North Coast 500 Explorer Small Group Tour
4 day/3 night tour
Our adventure starts with a drive through Highland Perthshire and into the beauty of the Cairngorm National Park. After lunch we join NC500 and experience amazing seascapes as we journey to the Far North. Take time out to see the dramatic sea stacks at Duncansby then discover pristine beaches and towering cliffs as we tour along the very north of Scotland to reach Ullapool. Climb the epic “Cattle Pass” to reach Applecross then spend a night in Inverness before visiting Loch Ness and toasting your journey with a wee taste of whisky at a local distillery.
Price range: £365 - £525
Small group Tour - travel in an intimate group of just 16 passengers
North Highlands - discover breathtaking seascapes and scattered fishing ports that hug the coastline
Sutherland - explore Europe’s last wilderness to encounter unspoilt scenery, towering mountains and ancient history
Applecross - navigate the notorious “Bealach na Ba mountain pass for breath-taking scenery at every turn
Ullapool - enjoy an overnight stay in this attractive fishing port on Loch Broom
Movie locations – The Eagle, Being Human and What We Did On Our Holiday
Guest house accommodation included - hotel upgrade option available
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Inverness - Wick
It’s time to experience the Ultimate Scottish Road Trip - The North Coast 500! Our journey gets off to a spectacular start as we cross the estuary of the Firth of Forth enjoying close-up views of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. It’s onward through the Kingdom of Fife and into Highland Perthshire. We’ll enjoy a stop in Pitlochry so you can enjoy exploring this the delightful Victorian resort.
Using the Drumochter Pass we cross the Grampian Mountains and enter the beauty of the Cairngorm National Park. In Inverness, the bustling city in the Highlands, we make a stop for lunch.
Bidding farewell to Inverness, for the time being, we join the NC500 route. First we cross the Moray Firth to reach the Black Isle. As we make our way over the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths there are panoramic views to enjoy. Hear heart-breaking stories of the infamous Highland Clearances as we travel northwards seeing sleepy fishing villages hugging the coast. Our journey for today ends in Wick, a former herring port.
Day 2 - Wick - Tongue - Ullapool
We start the day with a visit to John O’ Groats, the last village on mainland Britain, for a souvenir selfie. At nearby Duncansby Head there’s a chance to go for a cliff-top walk top see the spectacular stone seas stacks and abundant bird-life that call this wild part of Scotland home.
Our tour continues along the very top of Scotland providing an ever-changing panorama of sandy beaches, lochs and headlands. We’ll pass through remote crofting communities that are strung along the coast including the little village of Tongue were we’ll get great views of the Kyle of Tongue and, a short distance on, Loch Eriboll.
As we cross the sweeping Kylesku Bridge look out for the towering mountain known as Quinag. It has seven peaks and is a wonderful introduction to the Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve, where the landscape will take us back over 500 million years!
The last part of our journey will take us past Loch Assynt where we will see the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we make our way to Ullapool, our home for tonight
Day 3 - Ullapool - Applecross - Inverness
It’s a short drive to the dramatic Falls of Measach for our first visit of the day! From the suspension bridge watch as the waters of the River Droma cascade 46m into the gorge below. The scene will take your breath away!
Enjoy a relaxed drive along the banks of Little Loch Broom, Gruinard Bay and Loch Ewe as we travel to the pleasant village of Gairloch. Loch Maree is considered by many to be one of Scotland’s most picturesque lochs and as it stretches out ahead of us look out for the peaks of Beinn Eighe and Torridon in the distance.
The little village of Applecross is one of the most remote communities in Scotland. With stunning views over to the Isle of Raasay and Skye beyond it also has a stunningly beautiful location. During our time here why not learn more about the history of the village at the Heritage Centre or enjoy a refreshment and some fresh seafood at the famous Applecross Hotel.
The last part of our journey today is perhaps the highlight of the whole trip our ascent of the famous “Bealach na Ba”. The name means the Pass of the Cattle and this winding road is the highest in Scotland affording spectacular views over the Applecross Hills.
Day 4 - Inverness - Pitlochry - Edinburgh
A leisurely start this morning as we drive the short distance to Loch Ness where we can enjoy a cruise on the dark waters of Scotland’s most mysterious loch. You can also visit the ruins of impressive Urquhart Castle which has over 1,000 years of history to discover.
We’ll continue touring the length of Loch Ness, making a stop for lunch in the village of Fort Augustus. A pleasant distraction is to watch the many pleasure craft descend through the locks of the Caledonian Canal which are situated in the heart of the village.
Our journey continues through the Great Glen to Fort William. On our approach to the town look out for Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.
At Glen Coe we’ll stop to admire the dramatic scenery and gather together to hear the sad tale of the infamous massacre that took place here in 1692. Leaving the glen behind we’ll cross the wilderness of Rannoch Moor then descend the Black Mount, enjoying panoramic views of Loch Tulla below.
The final part of our tour will take us towards Stirling where we join the motorway back to Edinburgh. What a memorable journey this has been!
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Small Group Tour?
With an average of just 16 passengers (and never more than 20) a Small Group Tour will provide a more intimate and flexible travelling experience. These tours are carefully planned to travel off the highways so you’ll discover quaint villages and picturesque vistas that other tours just can’t access. All the small group tours that we feature are operated by purpose built luxury minicoaches that feature air-conditioning, panoramic windows, wifi, usb charging points and comfortable seating. Each group is led by an experienced driver/guide who will entertain and inform you with stories of our history, nature and folklore. Comfortable guest house accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, tv and other amenities is included in the price of all tours. You can choose to upgrade to hotel accommodation, at extra cost, if you wish. A delicious Scottish breakfast is included each morning of your stay. If you’ve got more time to spare a series of extraordinary itineraries has been created by combining one or more shorter tours. Seamless in operation these unique holidays allow you to discover even more of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. A feature of these tours is that you will travel with a different driver/guide and fellow travellers for each portion of the itinerary.
What are the optional extras on this tour and how much do they cost?
To give you maximum flexibility the cost of admission fees and other optional extras are not included in the tour price. This gives you complete freedom to choose as the mood takes you. On this tour the optional extras are: ( ) Please note these prices are given for guidance only and may be subject to change without notice. The age limit for child discounts can vary. Credit/debit cards are not always accepted so you should plan to have sufficient cash with you should you wish to purchase any of these optional extras.
What type of room should I choose?
There are different bedrooms types to choose from, here is what you can expect: Single room - one person sleeping in a single bed. Twin room - two people sleeping in two separate beds. Double room - two people sharing one large bed. Family room - three people sharing a room sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person). Please note that a family room can be a standard double room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed.
Tell me more about the optional Loch Ness Cruise?
Mount your very own Nessie adventure by taking a one hour cruise to explore the deep, dark and mysterious waters of Loch Ness. The cruise boat is equipped with on-board sonar, comfortable seating inside and out as well as toilets. Refreshments are available for purchase or you can bring packed food. You can purchase a ticket from your driver/guide on the day of the tour and payment is in cash only.
How much luggage can I bring?
Luggage space on the tour is restricted so the amount of luggage that you can bring is limited to 1 bag per person that weights no more than 15kg and has maximum dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm. Luggage larger than this will only be carried if space is available.
- 3 nights guest house or hotel accommodation
- Location: Wick (1); Ullapool (1) and Inverness (1)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (3)
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned minicoach with wifi and usb charging points
- Live commentary in English
- Services of an experienced driver/guide
- Service charges and taxes
- Admission charges
- Meals, snacks or items of a personal nature
- Gratuity to your driver/guide
From 1 Parliament Square
Royal Mile/High Street
Edinburgh EH1 1RE
Check-in: 08:15 hrs
Tour Departs: 08:30 hrs
Tour Returns: 19:00 hrs
Concession discount applies to adults aged 60 years and above; students and children aged 3 to 15 years inclusive.
We’re really sorry but children aged under 3 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
The price of this tour includes guest house accommodation with en-suite bathroom. You can up-grade to hotel accommodation at extra cost during the booking process.
One medium sized suitcase/bag per person (maximum weight: 15 kilos)
In order to give you maximum flexibility admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.