500? 300? 250? For those who love a drive, we’re now spoiled for choice as two new driving routes have now joined the world-renowned North Coast 500 in providing great way to explore some of the country’s most stunning, remote and often unseen countryside …
The NC500 launched just 3 years ago – created by the North Highland Initiative, a non-profit organisation set up by HRH, The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. The route follows the main roads across the coastal fringe of the North Highlands taking in villages and towns including Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats & Dornoch. The official route begins and ends in Inverness at Inverness Castle, although many have made their own routes and loops to delve into the heartland of the Highlands to discover the wild beauty of the region.
The concept was developed in order to create a tourism product that the whole of the North Highlands could benefit from and with such natural beauty already on offer – and boy, has that worked. There’s a wealth of media coverage to support the route’s year-round success. So it should be no surprise that others have been inspired by the NC500 story and, as the old saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In the South West of Scotland – inspired by the NC500 – a new route has been planned and launched. The South West Coastal 300 is roughly circular and much of the route follows many miles of awesome coastline and gives you the opportunity to marvel at hills, glens, forests and lochs. Drive through the magnificent Crawick Pass in the Lowther Hills to reach the coast of the Solway Firth.
On the way, you can detour to visit Scotland’s Highest Village – Wanlockhead. There are towns and villages along the Solway Coast including Kippford and Kirkcudbright as you head for the remote Mull of Galloway – Scotland’s most southerly point. You can even spy the Isle of Man and (on a clear day) the Mountains of Mourne. Explore the Machars Peninsula and discover the area’s rich heritage and history. Heading north from the Mull of Galloway, pop into picturesque Portpatrick with its harbourside pubs and restaurants as you head towards Stranraer.
Billed as “the ultimate road trip to the heart of Scotland”, the North East 250 is Scotland’s newest tourist driving route. It takes you on a 250 mile circular route through Speyside, the Cairngorms, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, the East Coast and the Moray Coast. It promises an exploration of all that makes Scotland famous – whisky, golf, mountains, nature as well as history and heritage.
There are three main starting points: Ballindalloch, Aberdeen Airport, and through Glenshee. And those who have created the route have made sure that whichever starting point you choose, you won’t be disappointed as there’s an abundance of things to see and do at every turn … from castles and coastal villages, to wonderful wildlife and stunning beaches; from iconic golf courses to magnificent mountains, forests and Scotland’s biggest concentration of distilleries.
Need more? You can read more on the route’s launch here.
Thanks for reading.