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North Coast 500 with Phil Malpas
9th August 2023
Phil Malpas shares his journey to the North Coast 500 - 'Scotland's Route 66'.
Starting from our first base in Inverness, the gateway to the highlands, we will have two very different days the order of which will depend on conditions. One of the days will be spent exploring the Moray coast with fabulous sandy beaches, lush woodland and the odd sea stack thrown in for good measure. The second day will be spent inland in some of the most beautiful glens in Scotland culminating in the spectacular Glen Affric where remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest caress the foothills of a number of Munroes.
On day four we will begin our adventure on the North Coast 500 proper and will spend time on the Black Isle where amongst other things we will see some of the massive oil rigs moored in Cromarty harbour. Our ultimate destination for the day will be Wick but we will stop at varied locations on the east coast before arriving in time for dinner.
Our base at Wick allows us to travel to the extreme northeast where we will visit the Duncansby Sea Stacks at dawn. After breakfast we begin to head west along the north coast itself before arriving at one of the most remote hotels in the UK at Altnaharra. Here we will spend 3 nights and will use this time to visit some of the remote and spectacular beaches near Durness. Balnakiel Bay will be a highlight with its extensive dune systems and miles of glorious pristine sand, an opportunity to feel the true meaning of wilderness Britain.
Our final location is the port of Ullapool on Loch Broom which gives us access to the amazing mountains of the west coast. From Assynt to Loch Marie and the mighty Suilven, Slioch and of course the diminutive but spectacular Stac Pollaidh.
Our final day on route back to inverness is a full one which we will begin in Torridon and then follow the coast to Applecross and then cross the highest mountain pass in Scotland, the Bealach na Ba.
This will be my 6 th tour of the NC500 for Light and Land and I am really looking forward to getting back to my “happy photography place” again. Spectacular mountains and coastline, remote beaches, seemingly limitless dunes, waterfalls, autumn colour and to top it all hardly anyone there! A must for anyone who loves to make photographs in some of the best wilderness anywhere on the planet.