Beautiful Scotland

The Ride Holidays version of the North Coast 500

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02 June – 12 June 2025 (11 days, 10 nights)

Planning for this trip started on the 28th of April 2019. That’s the day that GCN released their North Coast 500 video on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, then check it out. The WOW factor is off the charts.

A plan was hatched. “We’ll get there some day,” I thought!!

Well, that day has almost arrived. We’ve taken the GCN version and tinkered with it. There are some slight differences.

They took 3 days to ride 500 miles. (800km) We’ll knock it off in 11.

In true RH fashion, we want to also make it a holiday. Preferring 2 nights in each hotel rather than unpacking, packing each day.

We won’t make you stay in a tent.

Great hotels, fantastic riding, amazing restaurants and excellent whisky. The right balance between rest and exercise.

Non-riders (Team Macchiato) you are very welcome and will be well looked after. You will have a separate program and guide.

Ride Holidays cycle tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike, not just the serious cyclist. However, this particular trip is a good one to be fit for. It involves a lot of climbing. Yes e-bikes are an option if you wish.

Thank you for joining us. Can’t wait!!

Overview of the Tour

Tour Details

Tour Inclusions


  • 10 nights' accommodation using quality hotels.

Amazing Cycling

  • Ride at your pace. No pressure.
  • Multiple ride options daily.

General Cycling Tour Details

  • 6 to 7 staff depending on final numbers.
  • Tour leader – Karl Woolcott.
  • All meals as per the itinerary.
  • Cold drinks, Electrolytes and cycling snacks.
  • Return airport transfers. (On first and last day)
  • Souvenir booklet itinerary included.
  • Ride Holidays cycling jersey.
  • GPS assistance and physical maps.
  • 10-week training program - designed for the hills.
  • Specific non-riding program. You are very welcome and well catered for. The majority of your entry fees are included.

The Tour Price Excludes

  • Airfares and extra accommodation.
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory!
  • Meals, alcohol not indicated in itinerary.

The Tour Cost

  • $ NZD8950.00 per person.
  • $ NZD2300.00 - Single room supplement.

Bike Hire Options

  • NZD $950.00 Trek Domane AL4 Alloy frame or Similar
  • NZD $1400.00 e-bike Trek Powderly 4 Alloy frame or Similar

Payment details

The initial deposit is $2000.00. Full payment is required 90 days prior to departure.

We suggest that you have comprehensive travel insurance in place when paying deposits as they are non-refundable.

Beautiful Scotland Cycle Tour Itinerary

Day 1, Monday 02 June 2025

Welcome to Scotland

We encourage you to arrive a day early if you can. This helps the recovery after such a long flight. We’ll book the extra accommodation and transfers for you.

Today is all about getting you and your bikes ready for this amazing adventure. Your guides will help assemble your bikes. If you have hire bikes, then we'll make sure you're comfortable before we head out for a short 30km pedal. All we want to do is get the legs moving. Making sure that you and your bike are working as they should.

Our hotel was built in 1876 as a Mansion House by Charles Fraser-MacKintosh. Lochardil House is set in its own grounds and recalls days of Victorian splendour. Situated 1.5 miles from Inverness City Centre, it’s a leisurely 30-minute stroll along the River Ness.

Team MAC – Today we will set our sights on exploring Inverness. A picturesque city, renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, including the nearby Loch Ness. It's known for its rich history, with landmarks like Inverness Castle and St. Andrew's Cathedral. The city offers a charming blend of traditional Scottish culture, modern amenities, and outdoor activities, making it a popular destination and perfect for the start and finish of our holiday.  

Speaking of holiday..  Let’s talk about Whisky. I’m not a fan myself but our Scottish team certainly are. Apparently, the best distilleries are Glenmorangie and Belblair. We will arrange a visit as it would be rude not to. Our hotel in Brora is known for having one of the best selections in the whole country.

Tonight is our welcome dinner. We’ll introduce the team and go through the plan for the next couple of days.

Thank you for joining us. Here's to you. Welcome to Scotland.

/ Accommodation: Lochardil House, Inverness
/ Meals Included:  Welcome Dinner (and a whisky)


Day 2, Tuesday 03 June 2025

Nessie - Did you see it?

We’re tougher than GCN. Today’s ride is a bonus. Shall we call our version the NC600?

It’s exactly 50km to Fort Augustus, at the south-west end of Loch Ness. The village has a population of around 646. Today, they’ll be joined by 30 cyclists in pink lycra. I wonder if we’ll fit in?

We’ll find a nice spot for a picnic lunch on the lake. June in Scotland should be roasting – how about a swim?

Navigation is pretty easy. Not even Sherie Masterson could get lost. Keep Loch Ness on your right until you get to the end of the lake. Ummm, has anyone seen Sherie?

So, 100km to start your holiday. Yes, there will be shorter options as we’ll have our support vehicles close by. 

Team Mac – this morning you visit the Botanic Gardens before catching up with the cyclists for our picnic lunch. We realise that everyone will have different fitness levels (like the cyclists); however, on every day we will also have a good walk planned. You’ll see some of the Loch Ness 360 today – via foot.

Also, for Team Mac.... without wanting to turn this into ‘Yet another Castle tour’ – we suggest that you check out Urquhart Castle near Drumnadrochit as it really is beautiful. Especially with the lake in the background.

This afternoon, we suggest everyone walks into town along the river. How about we meet at the Uile-bheist Brewery and Distillery. That is where the staff will be having dinner, and we would love you to join us. It’s right on the River Ness and is rumoured to have the finest craft beer in the whole of Scotland. Don’t feel guilty – we are on holiday.

/ Accommodation:  Lochardil House, Inverness
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast & Lunch (Dinner is own arrangements)

Day 3, Wednesday 04 June 2025

Inverness to Brora

We start our version of the NC500 by riding to Brora. (Going to have to do some work on my Scottish pronunciation.) We’ll be riding anti-clockwise.

Cycling hotel to hotel has a lot of advantages. There’s certainly less pressure. We’ll know by now who needs more time getting from A to B. You can simply start earlier.

Our route takes us out of Inverness via the Kessock Bridge and onto the Black Isles. We are greeted by quiet country roads winding through fertile farmland and charming villages. Our route meanders alongside rivers and through lush woodlands, offering occasional glimpses of historic landmarks such as the Tain Tolbooth and Bonar Bridge itself. 

Touch wood – one of the day’s highlights is the opportunity to witness the majestic bottle-nose dolphins at Chanonry Point. There’s a great chance we’ll see these intelligent creatures as they frolic in the waters of the Moray Firth catching salmon.

Door to door is 130km (1000VM) so quite a long bike ride. Some will be licking their lips…. Others – well, let’s drop you say 50km down the road. Again, I remind you – no pressure.   

Team Mac – we have a job for you. Please can you visit Black Isle Berries on the way to Brora? More than just PYO berries. They also have a farm kitchen that bakes delicious brownies, gingerbread, and various other yummies. Oh, they also roast their own coffee. We thought that maybe after gauging yourselves, you’d possibly remember the starving cyclists and bring them a few treats. Maybe? Maybe not!! We also see Team Mac visiting the small Sutherland town of Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands, more specifically – the 13th century Parish Church that is the Dornoch Cathedral. Like on all days – the Team Mac plan is flexible. We’ll have recommendations but will work with you.    

Brora is a stunning Highland village surrounded by lochs, hills and gorgeous beaches. We talked about having 2 nights here; however, the further north we go, the more stunning it gets. This is your only 1-night stay on the entire trip.

When selecting a hotel, I often look at the food. A quote from the hotel website….  

“We select fresh local produce to give you flavour-filled dishes, including delicious seafood and 28-day hung beef, supplied from the nearby town of Golspie. Highland Fine Cheeses of Tain and Clynelish Distillery malts add a Highland kick to some of our sweet and savoury dishes. All of our desserts are homemade, and we are proud to serve locally made Capaldi’s of Brora Ice Cream."

Hmm, maybe we should stay here 2 nights?   

/ Accommodation:  Royal Marine Hotel  
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4, Thursday 05 June 2025

Tongue – Stunning. This is why we’re here!!

Today’s journey has you travelling from the North Sea all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Tick tock. 

Our version of the NC500 is slightly different to most. We really want to avoid the busy campervan roads. The route from Brora to Tongue takes us inland rather than along the coast. In Silas terms is relatively flat.

The longest ride is 130km and only 1000VM. That’s pretty much all downhill. We’ll pick the best 100 and 70km sections and offer that as our latte and cappuccino rides.

Departing Brora, we traverse undulating (less than 15%) roads amidst heather-clad moors and tranquil lochs, with the rugged coastline serving as a picturesque backdrop. You may be lucky enough to see salmon leaping up Shin Falls, a testament to the untamed beauty of Scotland's rivers and wildlife.

Lunch is at Crask Inn. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, the Crask is perhaps Scotland's most isolated Inn. A well-deserved break in a cozy atmosphere. Is it too early for a beer? Probably not.

Both Team Mac and the cyclists have the chance to visit Lairg. This charming Highland village nestled beside Loch Shin. We’ve arranged High Tea for Team Mac (because you’re posh) at the Dunrobin Castle which is also well known for its beautiful gardens (SB) and Falconry. 

Our home for the next 2 nights is the gorgeous seaside village of Tongue. You’ll arrive here and have one of those moments “Yup - this is why we came to Scotland”.

The majority of our dinners are included. That’s because towns like Tongue are small. Personally, I want to make sure you are fed. See you tonight. What a great day.

/ Accommodation:  Tongue Hotel
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5, Friday 06 June 2025

To rest or not to rest!!  

We hate one-night stays. They aren’t good for anyone. Our 2nd night in Tongue turns this trip from an endurance test into a holiday. There are plenty of options. You choose and we will do.

Option 1, Do nothing. Chill. 300 to 400km in the first 4 days may be enough for you.  Your exercise could simply be to go for a walk. Keep an eye open for Golden Eagles, Merlins (Hawky things) and Hen Harriers. Twitchers (bird folk) travel here from around the world to see these birds of prey. 

2, Coffee ride. Let’s call it the latte option. We leave our hotel and turn right. Keeping the blue stuff on then left. Turn around when you’ve had enough. We could make it 35km each way? Or shorter. Or longer. Up to you.

3, Epic, but full on. Our first loop ride. Up to 130km of pure Scottish charm. 1500VM which implies that it is slightly undulating. We’ve got the whole day. We will have support vehicles on this ride so you can pull the pin when you’ve had enough.

Let’s talk a bit about the full monty. We ride along the coast with the latte riders who are doing an out and back. When they turn around, we head inland on the A897. What can I say…. Your day will be full of remote moorlands, picturesque glens, highlands with steep climbs and winding descents. It’s very, very remote with little civilization in sight save for the occasional croft or farmhouse. Sounds perfect. Count me in.

Team Mac – you head off to the RSPB Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve. A rolling, rugged expanse of precious peatland and mountain scenery. We’ve arranged a guided walk for you. Cyclists are also welcome to join the Team Mac option if they wish.  

OK… a couple of things. Because we are now in remote Scotland you need to be prepared for all types of weather. Also, it’s that isolated that you’ll probably need to pay cash for your fluffy soy latte. Those used to paying by phone or watch – you will need to think again.

Whatever you choose today – it will be unforgettable. Awe-inspiring landscapes, wildlife and unforgettable experiences, showcasing the raw beauty and untamed spirit of this remote corner of the world. 

/ Accommodation:  Tongue Hotel  
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast & Dinner (Lunch is own arrangements)  

Day 6, Saturday 07 June 2025

Ullapool – Our Queen stage!!

OK, epic day planned. Hotel to hotel is ahhhh quite long. But, by now we’ll know what makes you tick and will plan accordingly. 

If you want 70km – that can be arranged. As can 100km. Hmmm, maybe even 150km. In fact, today we can even offer 190km for those who want to ride hotel to hotel. (We’ll make sure the wind is behind you.) 

Whatever you choose – tomorrow is a relaxing day. Maybe give the legs a good workout today.

Our journey is 100% on the Northwest Coast of Scotland, hugging the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You will start to see the terrain slightly change from rolling countryside to a more rugged coastline. Yes – that implies more hills and that is a fair comment. The ride takes us via the remote wilderness of Altnaharra – a small hamlet in the Sutherland region. (In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t – a hamlet in Scotland is a very, very small village. One that doesn’t have a church.)

We also touch down in the villages of Durness and Scourie. Each town has 1 shop. Struth – hope they’re open. We’ll make sure that lunch is planned for each day.

Team Mac visit the Smoo Cave. A large, combined sea and freshwater cave in Durness. Recommended to anybody visiting this beautiful and wild corner of Scotland. The approach to the cave is very impressive, with an entrance 50 feet (15 meters) high, 130 feet (40 meters) wide and 200 feet (61 meters) long. You are virtually walking towards a giant mouth. Inside the cave, there is a covered wooden pathway and bridge taking  you to a magnificent cascade that falls 25 meters into an 8 meter deep pool.

Team Mac – Dornoch is home to the worlds best hot chocolate and that’s a fact. You simply have to visit Cocoa Mountain Café. Oh, I’ve just noticed on their website that you can also buy takeaway chocolates. Hmmm, I wonder who you could do that for….    

This part of Scotland is magical. You have stunning lochs like Glendhu and Glencoul while at the same time - breathtaking views of sea stacks, rocky cliffs, and expansive moorlands, with the ever-present sound of crashing waves. There’s plenty of time for you to stop and take photos. Why would you!!

Make sure you google Ullapool. Wow, wow, wow. It’s our home for the next couple of nights. You deserve it. Tomorrow – you can relax and unwind amidst the lively atmosphere of this bustling harbour town.

/ Accommodation:  The Royal Hotel, Ullapool  
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7, Sunday 08 June 2025

Pie anyone?

Best pies on the planet, I am told. A day which promises sooo much.

At time of write the options are…

  • Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
  • Pork, Apple and Cider
  • Venison and Cranberry
  • Chicken, Leek and Mushroom
  • Steak and Ale

Hmmmm. OK, the famous pie shop is located Lochinver Larder which is exactly 48km away from Ullapool. You can choose to ride one-way or return. We ride around the Assynt Peninsula which offers breathtaking views of the Summer Isles archipelago with the iconic silhouette of Stac Pollaidh rising majestically in the distance. Bring your togs..

When planning this itinerary, we were budgeting on today being easier, than harder. 50 or 100km sounds great. However, there is also the whippet option of carrying on an extra 15km to the Secret Tea Room at Drumbeg. Shoosh, it’s a secret. Here you can enjoy homemade cakes to go with your pies. It’s not all about the food…. Ahhh, yes, it’s all about the food!!

Team Mac and those who feel like a day off the bike - we’ve booked you on the Summer Isle cruise which departs at 10.30am and lasts just over 2 hours. This remote coastline is dotted with remnants of Scottish ancestors and the quite unique communities still there today, and the islands whilst uninhabited, are home to abundant marine life and birds, and made of fascinating geological features. There’s a great chance you’ll see eagles, dolphins and whales as you cruise this unique archipelago of islands at the mouth of Loch Broom.

Could I suggest we catch up for happy hour late this afternoon? It would be great to talk through the plan for tomorrow. Tonight is a free night. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. In saying that, a strong recommendation is the Seafood Shack. You need to go early though as it closes at 6pm and doesn’t take reservations. Enjoy.  

/ Accommodation:  The Royal Hotel, Ullapool  
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast (Lunch & Dinner are your own arrangements) 

Day 8, Monday 09 June 2025

How many Lochs today?

3 days to go. Let’s make the most of it. Today’s hotel to hotel is relatively short. Only 59miles. That sounds quite a bit better than 100km. (99km to be precise.)

To answer the question… Ahhh… Loch Broom, Little Loch Broom, Loch na Sealga, Fionn Loch, Loch Maree, Loch Ewe and we finish at Gairloch. That is a lot of Lochs.

I almost forgot Corrieshalloch. This is where Team Mac will spend time. This mile-long canyon, through which the River Droma rushes, takes its name from the Gaelic for ‘ugly hollow’. But that’s as far from the truth as can be.

Corrieshalloch is one of the most spectacular gorges in Britain and provides striking evidence of how glacial meltwater can create deep gorges. Team Mac set out on a short steep walk to a Victorian suspension bridge, where you can gaze down over a series of crashing waterfalls. It’s a National Nature Reserve and cyclists are also welcome to stop here – even if it’s only for a coffee. It’s your last caffeine chance for the whole day.

Our home for the last 2 nights is Gairloch. Situated on the shore of Loch Gairloch, amongst the awe-inspiring scenery of Wester Ross, Gairloch offers a wealth of spectacular scenery and activities. There are several good sandy beaches in the area, such as the brilliantly named Big Sand, and at Redpoint, which offers lovely views to Raasay, Skye and the Western Isles, an unforgettable sunset across the Minch.

The whole Scottish itinerary worked backwards from when we could get availability at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. We had to book almost 2 years in advance. The Myrtle offers quality accommodation in a stunning location right on the shores of Gairloch.

By the way – this area is one of the top five recommended destinations to visit in the whole of the UK. We would quite like to arrive early to mid-afternoon, so you have plenty of time to go for a walk.

/ Accommodation:  Myrtle Bank Hotel, Gairloch    
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 9, Tuesday 10 June 2025

GCN “The NC500 needs to be on every cyclist’s Wishlist”.

As mentioned earlier in the itinerary – this trip was born back in 2019. GCN is solely responsible. For me, it was love at first sight. In particular - Bealach na Bà.  

The first laugh I got was from Wikipedia. Bealach na Bà (pronounced [bjaLəx na baː])

Great, thanks for clearing that up.

Year after year – it’s voted the best climb in the UK. Just imagine how fit you’ll be by this stage of the trip. You’ll fly up this hill. 9.2km at an average of almost 7% doesn’t sound that scary.

Today’s loop is only 76km however that includes 42 strava climbs. WTF. We ride over the Applecross pass - a winding single track road. It just looks spectacular.

The whippets can ride to and from our hotel if they wish. Normal people can hang out with me. We’ll drive to a country pub and start from there… guess where we’ll finish?

Those not wanting to tackle the climbs today can do a short ride from our hotel. 20km away is Cnoc nan Stac and is literally the end of the road. We should go there just because it’s a super cool name.

In fact – let’s add it to our t-shirts for this trip. In 2025 I rode to Cnoc nan Stac! That’s a conversation starter if ever I saw one.

Team Mac – it’s a bit of a drive but we thought it would be a good opportunity for you to visit Aramdale Castle (and its beautiful gardens) on the Isle of Skye. Classified as a 5-star attraction. It will be worth the drive. A full day by the time you add in a nice lunch and a walk. We’ll catch up with you later. (some cyclists may like to join you today)     

Tonight, we dine at the hotel – it’s a good chance to chat about the day. Tomorrow is our last full day together. This trip has gone quickly. That’s a good sign.  

/ Accommodation:  Myrtle Bank Hotel, Gairloch    
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast & Dinner (Lunch is own arrangements)

Day 10, Wednesday 11 June 2025

Back to Inverness

It’s another hotel to hotel ride… There will be some people on this trip who don’t set foot in a vehicle. (That’s weather dependent obviously.)

We really want to encourage everyone to ride the whole distance today. It’s just over 110km with 1200VM. It’s a great sense of achievement riding into your hotel on the last day. 

Our ride takes us via the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. With its cluster of mountains, ancient pinewoods, secretive crossbills and soaring golden eagles, it’s no wonder that Beinn Eighe was the UK’s first National Nature Reserve. Team Mac will certainly spend time here.

The last 60km into Inverness is a constant of rivers and lochs. That pretty much describes the last 9 days. This country really is spectacular.

Late this afternoon, we’ll help you pack up your bikes. Tonight, we eat fancy. We say goodbye and thank our Scottish team who are now part of the RH whanau.  

When we are in France we celebrate with champagne. As we’re in Scotland – it’s whiskey all around. A few stories will be told. Cheers to you. New friends, old friends, new roads….. Thank you GCN.

/ Accommodation:  Lochardil House, Inverness
/ Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11, Thursday 12 June 2025

Home Time

After breakfast, we all head in different directions. We’ll operate various airport shuttles depending upon your departure time.

The other option is simply to stay put. Spend some extra time in this beautiful country. You could keep the bikes assembled. You'll know your way around by now.

Thank you for travelling with Ride Holidays.

We look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

Safe travels home

Karl and the RH team          

/ Meals Included:  Breakfast



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