the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
althebike
Posts: 242
Joined: 10 May 2018, 12:58pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby althebike » 14 Aug 2019, 2:43pm

I appreciate that the prefix letter of a road does not dictate whether it is paved or not. The reason I mentioned it on my post was to avoid suggestions that would divert me from an A road, and on to a dirt or loose gravel track.
Regarding the comments about the Altnarharra hotel. A landlady who lives almost opposite the hotel. told me they do cheap bunkhouse accommodation.

Lookrider
Posts: 22
Joined: 1 Aug 2019, 6:10pm

Re: Scotland north coast 500

Postby Lookrider » 4 Sep 2019, 4:17pm

althebike wrote:I notice that the route for this ride is almost entirely on A roads. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice on bits to avoid, or paved detours that would make for a more relaxing trip?
There does not seem many options on the west coast, maybe not too busy? The stretch up through tongue, bettyhill, thurso, dunnet and JOG I am familiar with, but the route then goes south through Wick following the main road to Inverness



I'm just back from the 500
Virtually the A rds were in excellent condition and the traffic at most occasions very light. ...my playground is Durham Northumberland Cumbria so in comparison to those area the 500 was on par with may be a little more traffic on the tarmac single roads there was many passing places and cyclist and vehicles alike soon seem to get the hang of them so as you avoid stopping ....only speeding vehicles we come across where the supermarket deliveries who have put there drivers under undue pressure to complete there deliveries ...we did a diversion off the 500 and headed south to Kinbrace syre cask lairgs Invergordon just to avoid a real A rd
It was said they are A rds in name only and I can verify that
Iddylic scenery great rds to cycle on and a brilliant journey worth doing
I would highly recommend this tour

staffs cyclist
Posts: 1
Joined: 11 Oct 2019, 2:22pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby staffs cyclist » 11 Oct 2019, 2:30pm

I did the NC500 mid July last year with a bike tour company, but with some variations from the official route I noticed two incidents of considerable aggression, interestingly both apparently from locals, so similar to that mentioned by others on this thread. One woman came charging down in her car from Bealach na Ba, and as she approached the 14 of us spaced out as we struggled up at varying speed the hill, she hooted at each one of us, making clear she expected us to give way to her whatever the position about passing bays. It was extremely dangerous as there is not much room for bikes and cars to pass except at the passing bays and very unnerving given the speed she was approaching us at. (Normally on my local lanes I hold my ground when this happens and wait to see who blinks first but definitely not with tis lady!).Having said that, there were also a significant number of cars who overtook us from behind without waiting to overtake at the passing bays, but at least the speed difference was not so great.
Otherwise generally its was n’t too bad but we avoided the A9, dropping down mid country southwards from Durness to Altnahara and on past the Cask Inn towards Lairg. Absolutely wonderful moorland road, no car passed in either direction in the 20 miles between turning off the official route and reading Altnahara. (The following 20 miles after the otel were almost as quiet and almost as attractive).
Overall it was a great trip, had better views than I've ever had before on a bike on the west coast, particularly north of Ullapool. Planning to do it again independently but in May or late September one year

skicat
Posts: 517
Joined: 21 Jun 2011, 1:09pm
Location: NCN52 / SL8

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby skicat » 14 Oct 2019, 1:23pm

staffs cyclist wrote:Otherwise generally its was n’t too bad but we avoided the A9, dropping down mid country southwards from Durness to Altnahara and on past the Cask Inn towards Lairg. Absolutely wonderful moorland road, no car passed in either direction in the 20 miles between turning off the official route and reading Altnahara


I cycled that road 5 years ago as part of a JOGLE trip, and I would say it was one of the nicest roads I've ever cycled on. Ever. I did meet one oncoming car - an old Rolls Royce Phantom V with a roof-rack on it and a contraption fitted to the front bumper. Using these two non-standard additions, the driver was successfully transporting a number of full-length fishing rods :shock:
The hurrier I go, the behinder I get

griggsy
Posts: 18
Joined: 20 Feb 2019, 9:07pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby griggsy » 15 Oct 2019, 9:36pm

we did a diversion off the 500 and headed south to Kinbrace syre cask lairgs Invergordon just to avoid a real A rd


I did this going the other way up to Orkney, started in Alness, up to Altnaharra and across to Forsinard, camped the night and then went through the estate roads to Altnabreac station and on to Thurso and Scrabster. Was on a Spec AWOL with 38mm tyres and a trailer.

Lookrider
Posts: 22
Joined: 1 Aug 2019, 6:10pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Lookrider » 16 Oct 2019, 9:21am

griggsy wrote:
we did a diversion off the 500 and headed south to Kinbrace syre cask lairgs Invergordon just to avoid a real A rd


I did this going the other way up to Orkney, started in Alness, up to Altnaharra and across to Forsinard, camped the night and then went through the estate roads to Altnabreac station and on to Thurso and Scrabster. Was on a Spec AWOL with 38mm tyres and a trailer.


Griggsy ...on Google images that Rd from Forsinard through the estates looks glorious and similar to the altnaharra syre Kinbrace Rd
I don't really camp but will do hostels bunkhouses etc....so if we were to do a weekend riding that area around the estate. ...do you recall seeing a lot of civilisation where a lodge.bunkhouse etc could be found
This would be mtb weekend but was that Estate Rd surface doable on road bikes with 28mm max tyres

User avatar
andrew_s
Posts: 5275
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby andrew_s » 16 Oct 2019, 3:25pm

Lookrider wrote:I don't really camp but will do hostels bunkhouses etc....so if we were to do a weekend riding that area around the estate. ...do you recall seeing a lot of civilisation where a lodge.bunkhouse etc could be found

There's the Corn Mill bunkhouse in Strath Halladale, about 6 km south from the north coast road, or 16 km north of Forsinard station
https://goo.gl/maps/w8oeHkKcytWivi3BA

The Halladale Inn at Melvich has glamping pods

I expect there will be some rent by the week self-catering cottages around, which can give a reasonable cost pppn if there's a group of you to split the cost (eg £500 cottage for 7 nights between 7 of you is £10 a night each). Double beds are often the problem for groups.

A few widely spread hotels.

Bear in mind that the NC500 means a lot of places are booked up a long time in advance.

As for the tracks, bear in mind that track conditions change, and something that looks really good in the cycle.travel geograph photos (10 years old) or Google/Bing aerial photos (4 years old) may have had a thick layer of coarse gravel laid on it shortly before your visit, or have worn down to the rough base layer.

Lookrider
Posts: 22
Joined: 1 Aug 2019, 6:10pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Lookrider » 16 Oct 2019, 4:06pm

Thanks griggsy
We stayed at haladale camp pods fir 2 nights on our NC500
We also went passed the Cornhill on our diversion passed thete to Kinbrace and altnaharra ....most definitely recommend the halladale site and pods. ..great pub tete and excellent meals and host Charlene is great at hospitality ...the shower blocks were in process of being rebuilt and should be finished end of winter

griggsy
Posts: 18
Joined: 20 Feb 2019, 9:07pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby griggsy » 16 Oct 2019, 9:03pm

First holiday in North of Scotland 25 years ago was on the Halladale Inn campsite at Melvich, loved it, probably one of our main inspirations for moving to Orkney for 9 years. Love it up there. The estate road is wel signposted from Forsinain, if I remember right it’s sandy well drained soil most of the way to Altnabreac station, then hard packed but a bit stony as you head on towards Strathmore Lodge. Midges were the worst bit, trying to eat cereal through a headset isn’t easy! Would love to spend more time up there linking up the estate tracks and access roads, so many of them stop on the map but I’m sure a few would be passable.

griggsy
Posts: 18
Joined: 20 Feb 2019, 9:07pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby griggsy » 16 Oct 2019, 9:08pm

Lookrider, about the 28mm tyres, I reckon you would get through most of it but might not be very relaxing or allow you to take in the scenery. The post van and a few ordinary cars use those roads so it’s not 4wd stuff in the summer.

jonk
Posts: 17
Joined: 16 Feb 2016, 8:19pm

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby jonk » 21 Oct 2019, 9:56pm

We cycled on the "A road" through Forsinard and I had no idea that there were other roads available or that they are open to cyclists. One for next time I think.

rualexander
Posts: 2440
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Contact:

Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby rualexander » 22 Oct 2019, 11:09am

jonk wrote:We cycled on the "A road" through Forsinard and I had no idea that there were other roads available or that they are open to cyclists. One for next time I think.

All roads, tracks, paths, in Scotland's countryside are open to cyclists.