the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
phil parker
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby phil parker » 12 Aug 2019, 9:25pm

Lookrider wrote:Do you know the altnaharra area enough to recommend somewhere for food. ..we are staying overnight at the altnaharra hotel but it appears they are exploiting the cyclists on the 500 and charging an awful lot of money for not a lot of food


I read your other thread and wondered why you would be going through Altnaharra on the NC500? None of my concern why, but it's not en route? I have been from/through Lairg and stopped off at the Crask Inn, rather than stay at the Altnaharra Hotel, for a final 90-mile push to JoG. I'm not too sure why you would want to stop at Altnaharra? There is a great YHA at Tongue (even if I camped in the grounds!). From Tongue you would continue around the coast - where does Altnaharra (Hotel) come in?

rareposter
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby rareposter » 12 Aug 2019, 10:12pm

I did some cycle touring up round there in 2016 - did some big days out around the west coast. The bits that were on NC500 were often quite busy (this was in September, I imagine it's worse in July / August) and it was often "convoys" - things like 3 or 4 MX5s, a couple of sports cars, a trio of camper vans. Get 3 camper vans coming one way and a minibus going the other and nothing is getting past anything for ages. I can see why some people would get annoyed at it.

The bits that I did away from the NC500 route were noticeably quieter although "quiet" is a relative term; all the roads were quiet just with a couple of busy moments.

Lookrider wrote:Do you know the altnaharra area enough to recommend somewhere for food. ..we are staying overnight at the altnaharra hotel but it appears they are exploiting the cyclists on the 500 and charging an awful lot of money for not a lot of food


Altnaharra is nowhere near the NC500. It is however on LEJOG / JOGLE routes - if you're avoiding the A9 up the east coast then the route through the middle is the obvious alternative. Crask Inn, Altnaharra, and then either Tongue or Bettyhill. That's your lot for food. Can stop at Bonar Bridge or Lairg on the way up. And they're not "exploiting" cyclists. They're charging what they have to do in order to survive a 12-month year on probably 4-5 months of passing trade.

One thing that the NC500 has done is move all the trade out to that area so a cafe or B&B on the route will do roaring trade but one literally a couple of miles away won't get anyone passing by because they've all been lured off to the NC500.

brynpoeth
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby brynpoeth » 13 Aug 2019, 1:59am

What can be learnt from the 'success' of the NC500? It is popular with cyclists AND with drivers!
A similar promotion is planned further south in Scotland, Minus One I think
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Lookrider
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Lookrider » 13 Aug 2019, 9:24am

phil parker wrote:
Lookrider wrote:Do you know the altnaharra area enough to recommend somewhere for food. ..we are staying overnight at the altnaharra hotel but it appears they are exploiting the cyclists on the 500 and charging an awful lot of money for not a lot of food


I read your other thread and wondered why you would be going through Altnaharra on the NC500? None of my concern why, but it's not en route? I have been from/through Lairg and stopped off at the Crask Inn, rather than stay at the Altnaharra Hotel, for a final 90-mile push to JoG. I'm not too sure why you would want to stop at Altnaharra? There is a great YHA at Tongue (even if I camped in the grounds!). From Tongue you would continue around the coast - where does Altnaharra (Hotel) come in?



It was collectively decided that we would want to avoid the A rds and a little deviation from the official route most probly have more scenic roads as well
We are heading south into altnaharra
From the north coast

Lookrider
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Lookrider » 13 Aug 2019, 9:31am

rareposter wrote:I did some cycle touring up round there in 2016 - did some big days out around the west coast. The bits that were on NC500 were often quite busy (this was in September, I imagine it's worse in July / August) and it was often "convoys" - things like 3 or 4 MX5s, a couple of sports cars, a trio of camper vans. Get 3 camper vans coming one way and a minibus going the other and nothing is getting past anything for ages. I can see why some people would get annoyed at it.

The bits that I did away from the NC500 route were noticeably quieter although "quiet" is a relative term; all the roads were quiet just with a couple of busy moments.

Lookrider wrote:Do you know the altnaharra area enough to recommend somewhere for food. ..we are staying overnight at the altnaharra hotel but it appears they are exploiting the cyclists on the 500 and charging an awful lot of money for not a lot of food


Altnaharra is nowhere near the NC500. It is however on LEJOG / JOGLE routes - if you're avoiding the A9 up the east coast then the route through the middle is the obvious alternative. Crask Inn, Altnaharra, and then either Tongue or Bettyhill. That's your lot for food. Can stop at Bonar Bridge or Lairg on the way up. And they're not "exploiting" cyclists. They're charging what they have to do in order to survive a 12-month year on probably 4-5 months of passing trade.

One thing that the NC500 has done is move all the trade out to that area so a cafe or B&B on the route will do roaring trade but one literally a couple of miles away won't get anyone passing by because they've all been lured off to the NC500.


Thanks for the straight frd input
I'm new to this forum and I have had a few posts that deviated massively from the qwestion I asked ...involving in a lot of " political" responses that I unfortunately allowed myself to get involved in as well
I have noticed similar things in a lot of other topics
Considering the total outlay we are paying for the full trip. .I guess it's reasonable that an extra few ££ falls into insignificance
Thanks again and also to others whose input was less political

phil parker
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby phil parker » 13 Aug 2019, 10:53am

Lookrider wrote:It was collectively decided that we would want to avoid the A rds and a little deviation from the official route most probly have more scenic roads as well. We are heading south into Altnaharra rom the north coast


Ok, that makes sense - I also deviated, having cycled the east coast so many times I stopped at Thurso and got the ferry on to Orkney and Shetland then the ferry to Aberdeen! A good bike ride doesn't have to adhere to someone else's route plan - I always deviate from originals to suit my own pleasure.

The road from Bettyhill (or Tongue) past Altnaharra, the Crask Inn and onto Lairg is well worth the detour - one of my favourite roads! I think you've probably got the answer you were looking for and I think you are quite wise to put the cost down to circumstances and absorb it into the overall costs.

Good luck with your ride - I hope you all enjoy!

rareposter
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby rareposter » 13 Aug 2019, 6:48pm

brynpoeth wrote:What can be learnt from the 'success' of the NC500? It is popular with cyclists AND with drivers!
A similar promotion is planned further south in Scotland, Minus One I think


I always found southern Scotland (or more particulaly, the Central Belt area) one of the most boring and depressing bits of the country going. Miles of flat, dull roads (usually appallingly badly surfaced), wind farms, grey dreary villages seemingly with most of the life sucked out of them.

And then you get north of there and it's stunning. Kind of like finding The Secret Garden round the back of a council estate. But that band from about Gretna Green up to the M80. Urgh.

Oldjohnw
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Oldjohnw » 13 Aug 2019, 7:02pm

AFIK the 'new' route is in the SW: Dumfries and Galloway, which is lovely. Probably called the South West 100 or something.
John

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Paulatic
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Paulatic » 13 Aug 2019, 7:18pm

rareposter wrote:[]

I always found southern Scotland (or more particulaly, the Central Belt area) one of the most boring and depressing bits of the country going. Miles of flat, dull roads (usually appallingly badly surfaced), wind farms, grey dreary villages seemingly with most of the life sucked out of them.

And then you get north of there and it's stunning. Kind of like finding The Secret Garden round the back of a council estate. But that band from about Gretna Green up to the M80. Urgh.


Do you mean M74 corridor? I always assume a band is widthways.
To dismiss Dumfries&Galloway and the Borders which together is Southern Scotland with a view from that corridor is IMO very short sighted.
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brynpoeth
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby brynpoeth » 13 Aug 2019, 8:18pm

Plus One for the Southern Uplands, is that the right term? :wink:
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Oldjohnw
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Re: the North Coast 500: A Great Wilderness?

Postby Oldjohnw » 13 Aug 2019, 8:44pm

My son has a smallholding in South Lanarkshire. I love to go walking there and in the Southern Uplands.
Delightful area. Great John Buchan country.
John

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Ron
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Re: Scotland north coast 500

Postby Ron » 13 Aug 2019, 10:28pm

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

The A prefix is not an indicator of the nature of construction of the road, A roads can be single track with or without passing places, particularly A roads with 3 digits following, for example A838.
Rather than avoid certain parts of the road, It might be better to avoid the whole thing in July and August.
From Wick south there are few diversions possible from the A9 and these would require a lot of extra miles until getting to Loch Fleet where you can divert via Dornoch, and avoid some climbing. At Tain you could go east of the A9 and use the Nigg Cromarty Ferry. the roads from Cromarty into Inverness tend not to be too busy.

Lookrider
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Re: Scotland north coast 500

Postby Lookrider » 14 Aug 2019, 12:00am

Ron wrote:
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[/quote


Doing this ride on Monday 29th so I will let you know afterwards on how it was
Without too much detail. .this is our route
INVERNESS beauly Achnasheen.. loch Carron ..Applecross.. fearnmore Torridon..
KinLochewe...talladale ..gairloch Poolewe..Laide . . Dindonell auchindrean... Ullapool. Ledmore....Scourie ..durness ..tongue bettyhill ...melvich ..achimore Forsinard Kinbrace ..badenloch... syre. Altnaharra .Lairg ..bonar bridge ...Invergordon. .Alness Evanton Dingwall beauly Inverness nearly all on A roads


The A prefix is not an indicator of the nature of construction of the road, A roads can be single track with or without passing places, particularly A roads with 3 digits following, for example A838.
Rather than avoid certain parts of the road, It might be better to avoid the whole thing in July and August.
From Wick south there are few diversions possible from the A9 and these would require a lot of extra miles until getting to Loch Fleet where you can divert via Dornoch, and avoid some climbing. At Tain you could go east of the A9 and use the Nigg Cromarty Ferry. the roads from Cromarty into Inverness tend not to be too busy.

mattheus
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Re: Scotland north coast 500

Postby mattheus » 14 Aug 2019, 8:50am

For oldjohnw - the Dum&GAll route is to be called the ".... 300" ! See post below:

mattheus wrote:
Perhaps I am being protectionist but we have created a monster in the NC500 and other areas are now playing copy cat:

https://www.visitsouthwestscotland.com/ ... tal-route/
and
https://www.northeast250.com/

Having lived in Inverness for 12 years (moved 12 years ago tho'), toured the Highlands extensively by motorbike and, still, regularly holidaying in the highlands (twice a year typically) I am genuinely concerned that the NC500 has been oversold and the damage cannot be undone.


... there is also a route round Pitlochry-ish planned - see link in the Guardian article upthread. Despite the main man behind it being well aware of the problems on the NC500 route :roll:

Soon we'll need Gravel Bikes to find peace-n-quiet ;)

Oldjohnw
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Re: Scotland north coast 500

Postby Oldjohnw » 14 Aug 2019, 9:39am

mattheus wrote:For oldjohnw - the Dum&GAll route is to be called the ".... 300" ! See post below:

mattheus wrote:
Perhaps I am being protectionist but we have created a monster in the NC500 and other areas are now playing copy cat:

https://www.visitsouthwestscotland.com/ ... tal-route/
and
https://www.northeast250.com/

Having lived in Inverness for 12 years (moved 12 years ago tho'), toured the Highlands extensively by motorbike and, still, regularly holidaying in the highlands (twice a year typically) I am genuinely concerned that the NC500 has been oversold and the damage cannot be undone.


... there is also a route round Pitlochry-ish planned - see link in the Guardian article upthread. Despite the main man behind it being well aware of the problems on the NC500 route :roll:

Soon we'll need Gravel Bikes to find peace-n-quiet ;)


Thanks!
John

Cycling and recycling