When we first started the North Coast 500 we had only just picked up our Motorhome. I could find plenty of articles on the drive itself, places to visit, things to see, and accommodation as in hotels, lodges and caravan parks just not a hell of a lot on wild camping.
For us the beauty of coming to Scotland is in the freedom to wild camp in such wild, unspoilt areas with amazing vista’s every which way you turn. Basically we just followed our noses until we found somewhere that was truly special and we parked up so I thought I’d post up an article with a map to make things easier for others looking for wild camping spots.
Cromarty – Black Isles
Our trip started a little off the official route because we wanted to visit The Black Isles Organic Brewery and also see the dolphins at Rosemarkie. With those two things in mind and a vague post I had found online regarding a wild camping spot in Cromarty we set off. After the dolphins, (we arrived at low tide so let that be a lesson to you all, dolphin watching can only be experienced at high tide), we basically headed down this narrow road with nothing much to see for quite sometime until quite by chance we sort of fell into Cromarty and what a delight that was. Situated right on the Coast where sadly to the left oil rigs do spoil the vista, however look right and it’s a beautiful sight to behold from a spacious, grassy camp with a walkway to the town and the toilets at your back doorstep. The town itself is full of old worlde charm with all the essentials.
Directions: Head right to the end of town and hook around to the site on The Harbour.
We headed up anti clockwise and ended our day in Dunbeath which has a town side and a harbourside. On the town side, down a little lane beside the river was a park up site in a car park however there was someone else there and it was just a small area. Still ideal though but not for us. We crossed over the main highway through a small residential area and onward toward the Harbour where if you head right to the end, around the hook of the bend is a gorgeous parking spot right on the waters edge overlooking a grand castle and where the salmon jumped continuously before our eyes. There were 2 other motorhomes there that night; we each could have had our own picnic table as well and the toilet facilities were a mere minute walk around the corner.
Directions: Head to the Harbour side of Dunbeath along the lane past the residential houses. Continue past the toilets until the lane ends.
We didn’t actually stay here, rather just had a nap and moved on as we felt the need to get a bit further with our travels that day however it was such a stunning location that I felt the need to add to the list. Head down towards the Heritage Centre which takes you away from the beach. Anywhere between the beginning of the road and The Heritage Centre are several, private grassy areas to pull into overlooking the golden sands of Dunnet Bay. Really stunning location and nice town area close to The Dunnet Bay Distillery that makes really stunning Gin too.
Directions: Turn right into the Heritage Centre Rd and anywhere along there.
Not obvious from the highway we turned at Melvich because we felt the calling of the local hotel however the outside is more attractive than the inside and it wasn’t quite the experience we were looking for!
The harbour is down the single laned road that veers right and heads down and around. There is a small fenced parking area next to the memorial in honour of the local fisherman that have lost their lives off the coast of Portskerra. The parking is nice and level and is perched up high to take advantage of the stunning harbour views below.
Directions: Turn right at Melvich, veer right toward the harbour and follow the one laned track down to The Harbour.
This next stop, which was probably my favorite, is just past the turn off to Lochinver directly opposite the ruins of Ardwreck Castle rumoured to be haunted. From our spot on a grassy knoll the view over the Loch with the Castle and mountains in the background was truly breathtaking. However there was more magic to be had at this spot where at dusk a herd of wild deer crossed the road from the valley above and grazed right outside my bedroom window. With ghosts and wild deer to keep us company for the night this was without a doubt my favorite spot.
Directions: At the turning to Lochinver, head possibly 500 metres past until you are looking directly at the castle with the water before you and the mountains in the background. There is also a carpark 50m further up the road where other campers were.
Watch for mozzies here. It’s a gorgeous spot in a sealed carpark next to Loch Maree which in years gone by was home to one if the first Christian preachers known to heal the sick and insane with the Holy waters of the Loch so a spot with a spiritual connection. It’s also the beginning of the Ben Eighe trails and home to the rare black throated diver duck.
Directions: Heading toward the Applecross turnoff where you decide to either take the recommended motorhome route or be daring and do the Bealach na Ba Pass. Right next to the Highway at Ben Eighe just before the Information Centre.
Obviously there are probably many other wonderful wild camping spots for motorhomes along the route but these are the ones that we found to suit the amount of miles we wanted to do each day and I’m sure will fit in well with others itineries. Of course we went in an anti clockwise direction and these can be done in a clockwise direction as well.
A tip if you are still planning your route, if you plan to cross The Bealach na Ba, ( I only recommend for average sized motorhomes due to the narrowness of the track), travel in an anti clockwise direction as the steeper and more difficult section is on the downhill run going this way.