In July, get 15% off our Short Walks range and selected International Day Walking guidebooks and eBooks with the code WALKING15.

Cycling the North Coast 500

A cyclist-friendly guide to Scotland's NC500

Guidebook to cycling the 528 mile NC500 circular cycle route around northern Scotland, starting and finishing in Inverness. Although the scenery is wild, the going is almost entirely on asphalt roads, many of which are quiet with little traffic and can comfortably be cycled within a fortnight.


Best cycled between May and September


A circular ride starting and ending in the highland capital Inverness. Small towns are passed at Ullapool, Thurso and Tain


A challenging cycle route due to frequent undulations, with ascent totalling nearly 8000m. Climbs vary from steady climbs over low mountain passes to short steep hills. The road surface is asphalt throughout, presenting no problem. Suitable for all types of bike with a wide range of gears and appropriate tyres. Lights and high-vis jackets essential due to the possibility of misty conditions on narrow roads.

Must See

The beautiful and varied landscapes of the far north of Scotland. Major mountains are passed at Torridon, An Teallach and in Assynt. The route reaches both Durness and John o' Groats, near to the northwestern and northeastern extremities of Scotland.
29 Jan 2024
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.25cm

A guidebook to the 850km (528 mile) NC500 cycle route around northern Scotland. This circular tour starting and finishing in Inverness and passing through Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Easter Ross and the Black Isle is suitable for all types of bikes, and cyclists with a good level of fitness. The NC500 can be cycled in 2 weeks.

  • Presented in 16 stages between 24 and 89km (15-55 miles)
  • Alternate routes are given to avoid the steep ascent of Bealach na Bà or the undulating Assynt peninsula
  • The busy A9 east coast road is avoided, but is described as an alternative route
  • Route passes Ullapool, Thurso and Tain
  • 1:150,000 mapping and profiles are included for each route
  • GPX files available to download
  • Detailed information on accommodation, refreshments and facilities along the route

Table of Contents
Mike Wells Cicerone author WELLS

By Mike Wells

Mike Wells has been a keen long-distance walker and cyclist for over 25 years. He has walked all the major British trails, the GR5 through the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean and has explored the Italian Dolomites’ Alta Via routes. He has also walked in Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway and Chilean Patagonia.

Mike has cycled the C2C route across northern England and Lon Las Cymru in Wales, as well as the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela. He has completed an end to end traverse of Cuba, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape.

View author profile