A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

The best hillwalks from the NC500

May 2016
The "North Coast 500", or simply the "NC500", is a coastal route starting and finishing in Inverness and there's been much talk and publicity it of late. Following more than 500 miles of fairly quiet roads in the North Highlands of Scotland, the route takes in some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer. Ocean views, dramatic Munro and Corbett mountains, white beaches, picturesque fishing villages and lonely lochs are all visited on route.

Some folk want to cycle it over several days or even walk it over a much longer period. It's now attracting drivers and motor-bikers wanting an escape to quiet roads and to enjoy spectacular scenery. It typically takes a week or so to take in the whole route so to savour its delights and enjoy it at a leisurely driving pace.

We've been getting asked what would be the finest hillwalking and hiking routes up mountains on the NC500 and here's our suggestions for a 'top 10' Munros and Corbetts below, in the order of a clockwise driving route...

Ben Wyvis

Inverness's 'Ben' and the first mountain encountered on the NC500. Ben Wyvis is a huge whale-back shaped mountain that dominates the landscape above the Moray Firth. There's a fine path leading through forestry and up onto the mountain's western shoulder, from where a pleasant walk on a wide, grassy plateau leads to the summit.

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Beinn Damh

On south-western tip of the NC500 and the southern side of Loch Torridon, Beinn Damh towers above coniferous and Scot's Pine forests. The finest route up this mountain begins from the Torridon Inn, where parking is available and is an excellent place to return to relax and mull the day over a pint.

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Liathach is situated in the heart of the Torridon in the south-western section of the NC500. It is a dramatic looking mountain made of sandstone topped with quartzite blocks. Forboding on first aquantiance and for more experienced hillwalkers only, there are however some chinks in Liathach's armour which has allowed a rough but loose route to develop over time.

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Majestic Slioch towers above Loch Maree and its beauty is often featured on scenic calendars. It's one of those mountains that looks truly impenetrable from most viewpoints, however there is one fairly easy route going in from the south-east along the calm shores of Loch Maree.

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An Teallach

Dramatic An Teallach with its spires and crags guards a beautiful remote area containing some wonderful peaks. The 'classic' traverse of the main An Teallach ridge requires a good head for heights, scrambling skills and care, particularly on Corrag Bhuidhe. There is a by-pass path on the south side of the ridge that avoids difficulties.

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Seana Bhraigh

South-east of Ullapool, the vast areas of Inverlael, Freevater and StrathVaich Forests lie waiting to be explored. There are several peaks here, some visible from the NC500, some hidden well from view. Seana Bhraigh is the most dramatic of these peaks with its glacially carved and beautiful northern corrie requiring with some scrambling to reach its eastern top Creag an Duine.

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Cul Mor and Cul Beag

Cul Mor and Cul Beag sit in Coigaich which holds some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland. These hills stand isolated above the peat land and lochans and although neither of them reach Munro height, they have very individual character. A quick jaunt up nearby Stac Pollaidh, around 4 miles west of the NC500, is a must !

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Set in the far north, Quinag is a stunning mountain from any angle. It has 5 summits, 3 of which are distinctive enough to be classed Corbetts. The mountain shields itself with many cliffs and buttresses, however it is relatively straighforward to access the peaks from a fine path leading from a car-park on the A894.

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At just under 3000ft above sea-level, this is a magnificent mountain regardless of list status and reminisant of Beinn Eighe in Torridon. Enjoy superb ridge-walking on quartzite crests above dramatic corries. Stunning vast views can be savoured on clear days on one of the best hill routes in Scotland.

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Ben Hope

Ben Hope, a distinctive peak, lying a few miles south of the NC500 near Tongue is the most northerly Munro ! There are two main approaches - a quick and easy route from the south, or a more complex, longer route in from the north with some exposed scrambling. Either way, reaching the summit is rewarded with some far-distant stunning views, including to Orkney.

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