Our Journal

Informational, Tips & Advice
22 June 2021
Kim Pierce

North Coast 500: Motorhome Hire Vs Premium 4×4’s

One of the first decisions you need to make when deciding to travel the North Coast 500 is which method of transport to use. The route can be traversed by motorhome, 4×4’s, cars, motorbikes or even bicycle if you have a little extra time to spare.. Here we discuss the motorhome hire vs a converted premium 4×4 truck ie: the Highland Overlands trucks!

Why we prefer to drive the North Coast 500 with our Highland Overland 4×4:

  • With many single lane tracks and steep gradients driving the route is much easier in a 4×4
  • You don’t have to find alternative routes – some of the roads highlighted below are not recommended for Campervans more then 16 – 18 ft in length.
  • You can park up easily in city’s and towns for supplies and explore the sights.
  • Get off the beaten track and explore the roads less travelled!

We admit… we may be a little biased so below we have answered some of the more frequently asked questions on driving a campervan or motorhome along the North Coast 500 so you can decide for yourself.

What is the North Coast 500?

For those who don’t already know, the North Coast 500 (also known as the NC500) is 500 miles of road taking you through stunning landscapes through the Scottish Highlands.

For everything you need to know about this route read our Guide To Scotlands North Coast 500.

What are the roads like along the NC500?

The roads making up the North Coast 500 are a mix of rural roads and single track lanes, at times there can be very steep gradients as well. A large proportion of the NC500 is unfenced, therefore cows, goats, sheep and deer can roam free and can be found wandering down the roads or crossing and catching a motorist by surprise so please drive with caution and stick to the speed limits to keep safe.

Keep an Eye Out For Wild Animals Crossing The Roads – Image by @SteveAllenPhoto via Twenty20

Whats a single track road?

This is a road which allows two-way travel but is not wide enough to allow vehicles to pass one another along the majority of it so provide passing places for this. The driver is often required to and needs to be comfortable reversing down several hundred yards of road to pull into a passing place and allow a car past.

This does also mean that driving can take longer than predicted if its a busy day so always leave plenty of time between stops and starts your journey earlier on in the day to accommodate for delays.

Single Track Roads Along the Scottish Highlands – Image by @Davidc_22 via Twenty20

Can I drive the North Coast 500 by Campervan or Motorhome?

The majority of the route is fine to travel in a motorhome or campervan and they are becoming an increasingly popular way to explore the Highlands. A level of experience and competency is needed due to the sharp bends, steep gradients and single track roads which require you to reverse several hundred yards. Do remember though that roads that are suitable in the summer months may not be so in winter and snow tyre’s etc may be needed. If travelling in Winter please do fully research the route and ensure your vehicle can manage it.

There are however a few sections of the route which are not suitable for longer campervans and motorhomes.

Advise from North Coast 500 website give the following warning:

“⚠ If your motorhome is more than a standard VW T5 conversion (ie about 16-18ft in length), please take the alternative motorhome routes available. If you cannot accurately reverse your vehicle several hundred yards on a narrow single track road – you cannot safely drive over this road. Please do not attempt to drive the Bealach Na Ba (take the A832) or B869 Drumbeg Road (take the A894).

Roads on the Isle of Skye – Image by @J.G.Marshall via Twenty20

Which roads along the North Coast 500 can I not drive in a campervan or motorhome?

As mentioned there are a few routes that shouldn’t be attempted in a campervan or motorhome:

  • The Bealach Na Ba (take the A832)
  • B869 Drumbeg Road (take the A894)
  • Also recommend avoiding the B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku (take the A837 back from Lochinver to Skiag Bridge)

Top Tips for Driving the NC500 in a campervan or motorhome

  • Find a safe spot to practice reversing your vehicle.
  • While driving the route, if you are driving below the speed limit keep an eye out for cars behind you and pull into a passing place to allow them to safely overtake you.
  • If you are travelling in a group do not travel in convoy and allow at least one passing place between you to avoid congestion.
  • Plan you route! Know which roads you need to avoid in long wheel based campveran and motorhome and make sure you know which alternative route to take.
  • Take lots of suppliers – the north coast of Scotland is pretty remote and if you breakdown it can take a while for help to arrive so make sure you have water and food to keep you in a good mood while you wait!
Looking Out At Eilean Donan Castle – Image via Twenty20

We’re always looking for tips and suggestions on driving the North Coast 500 so if you have any information which can help other drivers looking to travel the route please do get in touch on our Facebook page or Instagram.