The Best Hikes Along Scotland's NC500
Island of Hoy
Leave the van behind and take a day trip to the island of Hoy, walk along some of Britain’s highest sea cliffs and take in the iconic red sandstone sea stack: then Old Man of Hoy.
Along the way keep your eyes peeled for skuas and peregrine falcons which hunt along the cliffs here. On a clear day, you can see as far as Cape Wrath on Scotland’s north coast. The path is well-defined and easy to follow.
The island of Hoy is in the Orkney archipelago and a great day trip when travelling the North Coast 500. You can park in the secure, long stay carpark in Scrabster, operated by Scrabster Harbour Trust and just 800m from the terminal. Tickets can be purchased from the Northlink Terminal.
Catch the 1h 30 ferry across to Stromness and then hop on the 30 minute ferry to Hoy Island. The hike should take around 4 hours round trip.
Stac Pollaidh (North Coast 500)
Stac Pollaidh is one of the most popular hills to climb in Scotland. Standing at just 613m and around a half a day’s hike with rewards of jaw dropping 360-degrees views, it’s well worth adding to your North Coast 500 to do list.
The whole walk has stunning views over Assynt to the north and the Summer Isles and Achitibuie to the south and west. The path is well laid out although the climb to the ridge is steep and its a scramble to reach the true summit.
Begin your hike at the Stac Pollaidh car park on the edge of Loch Lurgainn.
There is a circular route which will take you around the base of the pinnacles, or you can return the same way.
The hike only takes around three hours, climbing up the steep winding pathway, but the summit ridge views, reached with some scrambling in the final stages, is pure wilderness and provides panoramic views that are second to none.
You’ll want to spend some time up there at the top to soak up the 360-degree views, including mountains like Cul Mor and Suilven, which rise steeply from the watery Inverpolly Nature Reserve, as well as Scotland’s rugged and watery west coast.
2-4 hour hike.
Faraid Head (Durness) (Dunes and NC500 route)
Puffins, seals and even minke whales make their homes around the headland of the quiet haven of Faraid Head. Walk across the white sands of Balnakeil beach and onto the track through the dunes for a beautiful coastal hike with great views over Cape Wrath and lots of nesting birds on the cliffs.
3 miles north of Durness
Around a 2 hour walk
Baddidarrach to Achmelvich Beach and Alltan’abradhan
The coastline of Assynt is littered with picture-perfect sandy beaches interspersed with rugged cliffs and sea-stacks. Starting along the footpath from Baddidarrach in Lochinver, head towards the stunning Achmelvich Beach (no dogs allowed in high season) and follow the path to a a ruined old mill and hidden cove. You may also come across Europes smallest castle, Hermit’s Castle along the way.
Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife along Achmelvich beach as seals, basking sharks, otters, ospreys and white-tailed eagles can often be seen.
The Mighty Siloch in Wester Ross.
For those looking for a challenge, Siloch munro (mountain) is a tough, full days walk with some steep, rough terrain and at times pathless but it’s a rewarding climb and the summit views over Loch Maree and into the Fisherfield wilderness are sensational.
The beautiful Loch Maree is home to over 60 islands with numerous rare birds as well as sea-eagles which were reintroduced here in the 1990s. The islands have been designated a Natural Reserve to protect them and their habitat.
The summit is at 981m
The most northerly mountain in Scotland and an isolated peak rewarding its hikers with a magnificent viewpoint.
A simple Munro, 3 kilometres south of the head of Loch Hope. If you’re looking to tackle a simple Munro while following the NC500 then Ben Hope is a great start.
The route is steep, wet and rocky at first but the route to the summit is well pathed but the views of vast wilderness and the ocean beyond are sensational.
We would love to see and hear any of your hiking adventures.