INVERNESS is the starting point for a new television series exploring the Highland’s own Route 66.
North Coast 500 is running every Tuesday for four weeks - hosted by television personality and BBC Scotland reporter Anne Lundon.
Viewers are taken on a journey around the circular route which offers visitors everything from mountain ranges, lochs, glens, castles, ruins, beaches and wildlife. The series will also highlight a range of memorable places to sample some of the best of Scotland’s food and drink.
The North Coast 500 has risen to fame in the last three years and recently become so popular that it regularly ranks among the world’s top ten road trips.
Anne Lundon begins her trip in Inverness before heading west and travelling through beautiful unspoilt countryside. She then tackles Bealach na Ba, the steepest road in Great Britain before leaving the Applecross Peninsula.
She then reaches the spectacular vistas of Glen Torridon and Loch Maree. The Assynt Geopark has some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back 3 billion years.
Ms Lundon meets up on the series with some of her fellow broadcasters. Keen cyclist Niall Iain Macdonald makes an appearance. He has cycled all over the world but comes back as often as he can to tackle his favourite stretches of the route, from Ullapool to Durness and the road from Sandwood Bay to Kinlochbervie.
Ms Lundon said: “Some of the destinations on the route are really well-known – like Ullapool and Corrieshalloch Gorge – but when you go and visit them yourself they are simply stunning.
“I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t been to many of these places before. There’s such a variety of things to see and do. I took the occasional detour off the route, which was also well worth it – to see the Cairns of Camster, Bonar Bridge and to look for dolphins by the Black Isle. I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s here - I’ll be back for sure.”
On her journey Ms Lundon meets up with people on the North Coast 500. These include campervanners, car clubs, bikers, cyclists and even the odd walker making it clear that doing the NC500 is on everyone’s bucket-list.
The route is 516 miles and starts and finishes at Inverness castle. The route has been named as one of the world’s best five coastal routes by Travel Now magazine, and also as one of the top 101 reasons to travel by National Geographic, the NC500 has made headlines nationally and internationally.
It has also been hailed by businesses all over the Highlands as a vital boost to the economy. There is even an option online to become a member of the North Coast 500 with a standard membership coming in at around £15 a year and a gold membership setting you back £250.
The popularity of the route has also caused problems. With the number of tourists using the route escalating quickly it is now difficult to find hotels during the summer months and parts of the roads are deemed unsuitable for the heavy flow of traffic. Advice from the official tour website suggests that campervans and vehicles more than 16 feet in length should not attempt the Bealach na Ba section of the route.
The series started on BBC Alba on Tuesday 16 May from 8.30pm until 9pm and will run every week for four weeks.
It can also be viewed again on BBC Iplayer under the BBC Alba section.