During this uncertain time, many people are choosing to explore their own countries rather than taking the risk of flying or being in another country that could potentially go into quarantine while they are there. This has meant that many people in Scotland have chosen to do the North Coast 500 to explore the beautiful spots around the country.
As the name suggests, the route around the North of Scotland is 500miles long and the length of time it takes to do this route depends on how long you would like to spend at each location. We have drafted a itinerary as a rough guide and to give you an idea of what it would be like to do the NC500 in an EV.
First, we need to pick which car to drive the route. Most people would already have their car before the trip and would not have the luxury of picking the perfect one right before the journey so we understand this is theoretical. Some of the roads along the way are quite narrow and so a smaller car is better for this.
For these reasons we have decided to pick the electric Golf from Volkswagen. It has a range of 144miles at a full charge and 115miles at 80% charge.
Normally, drivers charge to 80% as this has been shown to keep the battery healthy and allow it to perform for longer.
So, we start our journey off at the public charge point in Inverness at the Scottish Natural Heritage building which has a 22kW charger. This charge will take 1-2hours and during this time it would be good to make sure you know the route you are taking and discuss any services to stop at. This charging point is part of the ChargePlace Scotland network Developed by the Scottish Government. To access these charging points you need to sign up to ChargePlace Scotland to get a member card that allows you to charge at 90% of its public charging points for free.
When you have your 80% charge, the first stop is the village of Applecross via the winding single-track road called Bealach ‘na Ba. The road has lots of passing places and so isn’t as difficult to drive as it may seem and there is a parking place at the top to admire the views over the hills. The Applecross Inn is also a great stop to make to relax and have some food.
A great option for a place to stay on your first night is the Torridon Inn. It is a beautiful hotel with stunning views and has exactly what we need – an electric charge point. So far the journey has been 111miles and you would need to charge up before setting off the next day. This is also perfect as you can simply charge overnight or during your evening meal. This 7kW charge point is free to use for customers.
The next morning you will set off for the first stop, Gairloch. This is a small picturesque village with lovely coffee shops and a few sandy beaches. The drive from Torridon to Gairloch is 36miles and while that is not a large portion of the e-Golf’s range, Gairloch has a fast charge point which would take less than 30mins to reach 80% capacity again.
There are a few beautiful beaches such as Mellon Udrigle beach which you could stop at on your way to your accommodation for the second night, the Argyll hotel in Ullapool. This is around 56miles from Gairloch but will be more depending on which beaches you stop at on the way. The Ullapool Harbour Trust has a rapid charging point for the next charge.
On day 3, we suggest you drive on the stunning B869 road which takes you to Scourie Bay. There are many places to stop and explore on this route. The next stop is Durness which has the Smoo Cave and Chocolate Mountain to explore. The Smoo Lodge is a lovely B&B to stay overnight and their is a rapid charging point at the War Memorial Car park in Durness which is part of the ChargePlace Scotland scheme.
After charging in Durness the next stop is John o’Groats which is 90miles away. On the way there you could stop at Thurso which is the northernmost town of the Scottish mainland and known for surfing. There is a charge point at John o’Groats which is an Ecotricity charge point and is at the visitor centre. Since there is not much in John o’Groats, we would suggest continuing your journey on to Helmsdale where you could stay at either The Bridge Guest house or the Bannockburn Inn. On Dunrobin street in Helmsdale there is a ChargePlace Scotland charge point rapid charger.
On day 5, you can make your way back to Inverness which at this point is only around 70miles away. On the way you could stop at Golspie which has Dunrobin Castle to visit and has a charging point just beyond it at the Asda in Tain if needed.
So, that was our guide to doing the NC500 in an e-Golf which has a lower mile range than some other bigger EV. It is definitely possible to do long road trips in EV due to the infrastructure we have in Scotland that we should absolutely use and take advantage of when thinking of this year’s staycation.
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