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The North 500

The North Coast 500 is Scotland's biggest road trip measuring over 500 miles. I am reliabily informed it is 516 to be exact.  The route begins in Inverness and flows along the stunning coastal edges of the North Highlands in one round trip. Bringing together the best of the Highlands from glistening beaches, haunting castles, monumental munros and hundreds more scenic stop-offs, you will be spoilt for choice on this road trip. I have included on this add on several links that will help you to plan your route. I have also included several photographs, with explanation showing what you can see along the route.  It is basic. You should consult the links for more in depth detail. Below are several of the sights that can be visited. They are in no paricular order.  As stated this page is a added bonus.

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland. The Castle, which resembles a French chateau with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed Londonâs Houses of Parliament, and Scotlandâs own Sir Robert Lorimer. The Castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War and as a boys boarding school from 1965 to 1972.In 1915, the building was in use as a naval hospital when fire damaged the roof and much of the interior, but was confined to the newer additions by Barry. Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer was engaged to renovate the house following the First World War. When the 5th Duke died in 1963, the Earldom and the house went to his niece, the current Countess of Sutherland, while the Dukedom had to pass to a male heir and went to John Egerton, Earl of Ellesmere. Between 1965 and 1972, the house became a boarding school for boys, taking on forty boys and five teachers in its first year. Since 1973, the house and grounds have been open to the public, with private accommodation retained for the use of the Sutherland family.

Dunnet head lighthouse

Dunnet Head Lighthouse marks the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland - being some 2.35 miles North of John O'Groats. Only 6.75 miles across the Pentland Firth lies the nearest point of the Orkney Islands. The Orkney's can be seen in the backgound. Erosion of the rock on which the original fog signal (built in 1899) stood, made it necessary to abandon it and to establish another fog signal nearer the lighthouse. A third fog signal was established in 1952, but this was discontinued in 1987. James Smith of Inverness was the contractor responsible for the building of Dunnet Head. All the new lighthouses, beginning with Little Ross in 1843, were lighted on the dioptric system the latter being a combination of lenses with reflectors. Dunnet Head was changed to a dioptric lens in 1852. The Queen Mother had visited the lighthouse on several occasions, the last being on 8 October 1979 when Mr Malcolm, Principal Lightkeeper, gave a conducted tour of the station. The Queen Mother later had tea with Mr Malcolm and his wife and met the other lightkeepers and their families residing at the station. The lighthouse was automated on 31 March 1989 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s headquarters in Edinburgh. It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building.

Highland Clearance Statue

The SNP came into power in 2007. Within months A memorial statue to those affected by the Highland clearances was officially unveiled by the then First Minister Alex Salmond to remember the clearances in Helmsdale, on the Sutherland coast. The 10ft-high bronze "Exiles" statue commemorates the people who were cleared from the area by landowners and left to begin new lives overseas. Canadian mining millionaire Dennis Macleod, who was behind the scheme, also attended the ceremony. The statue, which depicts a family leaving their home, stands at the mouth of the Strath of Kildonan and was created by Black Isle sculptor Gerald Laing. Mr Salmond said: "This statue is not only a reminder of the Highland clearances, but a great example of the skill and vision of those who remain.This statue is a reminder of the men, women and children who left Scotland and took their skills, their strength and their stories across the seas and shared them around the world. "While we deplore the clearances we can be proud of the contributions that those cleared have made to humanity."The original plan for a commemoration by a group of campaigners was to obtain permission to knock down a controversial statue of the laird involved in the clearances, the Duke of Sutherland, which towers over the town of Golspie.Although this never happened, they got together with Mr Macleod, who was born in the much-cleared Strath of Kildonan. He set up a Clearances Centre which commissioned the statue now in place. An identical one has also been set up on the banks of the Red River near Winnipeg - the modern city founded by those who left Scotland for Canada.Mr Macleod told BBC Scotland: "It's my personal ambition to have the same statue erected in all of the areas where the Highlanders settled. "We now have two and I can see five or six eventually, in places like Canada, the States and Australia."

Smoo Caves

Smoo Cave is a large combined sea cave and freshwater cave in Durness in Sutherland, Highland, Scotland. Smoo Cave was formed within Early Ordovician dolostones of the Durness Group (also known as the Durness Limestone). The cave has formed along the boundary between the light grey Sangomore Formation and the dark grey, mottled Sailmhor Formation (sometimes called Leopard Rock), both of which form part the Durness Group succession. These horizons close to the formation boundary are characterised by large and abundant chert nodules which can be found all along the inner stream chamber where they have been left behind after dissolution of the surrounding dolostone. The cave was formed along two geological lines of weakness by a combination of erosion from the sea and an inland underground stream which has formed the innermost chambers. Upstream of the Allt Smoo which runs into the cave, impermeable quartzites have been faulted against the Durness Limestone, causing the stream to sink down into the carbonate rock soon after it has crossed the contact between the two different rock types.The cave is unique within the UK in that the first chamber has been formed by the action of the sea, whereas the inner chambers are freshwater passages, formed from rainwater dissolving the carbonate dolostones.

That is but just a few things to see The North Coast 500 is not a route to be driven quickly. Not only would it be unsafe to race along it, but you’ll want to drive it at a relaxed pace to take in the wonderful scenery! Our advice is to allow at least 5 days to drive the full route round-trip, although more days will obviously allow you to see more. If you have less than 5 days, we’d recommend focusing on a section of the route or a region or two in the area. You can also choose to more thoroughly explore a section of the route by choosing a base along the route and taking day trips. Here are a few links.