Our Top 5 Detours from the NC500

Thu, May 5, 2022

The North Coast 500 is one of the world’s greatest road-trips, often popularised as ‘Scotland’s answer to Route 66’. We’re delighted that Lochinver Larder is one of the foodie pie-lights along the way!


As the name suggests, the NC500 covers 500 miles of incredible coastline through several regions in the Highlands. Not only that, but there are countless hidden gems, inviting islands and charming villages within close reach of the designated NC500 route. Detour, anyone?

This post is for the rule breakers, or NC500 regulars in search of new territory to explore. We’re challenging you to rebel against the route, briefly venturing away from the NC500 - or off the mainland completely! Just don’t stay away too long and be sure to stop by for a pie. Let’s go!


handa island

Dunnet Head 376438699-1

Handa is a small island with an internationally important wildlife reserve, thanks to its population of over 200,000 seabirds: this includes the colourful, comical puffins who set up home there from mid-May to July. The last human residents left in 1848, during the potato famine, bound for a new life in Nova Scotia.

Nowadays, visitors arrive on the Handa Ferry to explore this paradise of plant life, dizzying cliffs and white sand beaches; the perfect place to escape the peak season crowds on the NC500. Turn off the road at Scourie, on the section between Durness and Ullapool, and drive 3 miles north to the ferry departure point. When you arrive on Handa, follow this route around the island.



We have a real soft spot for this detour – Coigach is our next door neighbour after all! Together, Coigach & Assynt are a geological masterpiece, which for your average non-geologist means that these landscapes have been millions of years in the making and the end result is off-the-scale stunning. Follow the Geotrail to discover ancient rock, fossils and evidence of meteor impact.

Coigach is the gateway to The Summer Isles, and there’s no better way to get close to these dreamy isles than on a paddle with Kayak Summer Isles. For an on-land adventure, hike the iconic Stac Pollaidh following this route: experienced climbers can tackle the tricky, jagged ridge.

WARNING: You might not want to return from Coigach. For a longer break away from it all, stay in the glorious glamping pods at the hidden Acheniver Hostel for jaw-dropping sunsets over The Summer Isles.



Plockton is a picturesque seaside village on the west coast, huddled around a sheltered bay on Loch Carron with cute cottages, mountain views and not-so Scottish palm trees. Affectionally known as the ‘Jewel of the Highlands’, Plockton is only a 22 mile detour from the NC500 route through Wester Ross, and it’s without doubt worth the journey

Wander around the scenic harbour area, join a 1-hour wildlife cruise with Calum’s Seal Trips and go in search of the secluded Coral Beach. Be sure to visit The Plockton Inn for fresh seafood, local produce and warm hospitality.

red point north beach

At the very end of a single track road, a hidden haven awaits. This bonnie beach may only be 10-miles from the NC500 destination of Gairloch, but it feels like a far-flung secret. The beach takes its name from the smooth sweep of unusual red/pinkish sand, backed by impressive dunes. Another bonus stop on the road to the beach is the small and independent Badachro Distillery.


Ring of Brodgar

From the very top of the UK mainland, the northern isles are within temptingly close reach, all but a quick hop across the Pentland Firth. Book a day trip to Orkney from John O’ Groats and in just 40-minutes on the ferry, you’ll be gracing the shores of this fascinating archipelago. Time for some island sightseeing!

Immerse yourself in ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’, taking in the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the unbelievably well preserved village of Skara Brae. Fast forward to more recent times, the Churchill Barriers, Scapa Flow and Italian Chapel serve as a reminder of Orkney’s significant role in World War II. The pretty town ports of Kirkwall and Stromness complete this jam-packed itinerary and whirlwind detour from the NC500.


Be sure to pop in for a pie on your NC500 adventure or order your Pies by Post now.

00000002 Sango Bay Viewpoint - NC500 - North Coast 500
Never have I ever felt the need to leave a review before but after just eating your Venison and Cranberry pie with my flatmates, my taste buds melted. I have never enjoyed every bite of something so much. I sat at my table reimagining the ratatouille scene where he combines cheese with a strawberry and his head is filled with colours as the combination blows him away. In short, wow. Blown away.
Pie Loving Customer