5 Must See Castles on The North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 is a fantastic route through some of the most stunning scenery around the north of Scotland. It starts and ends in Inverness, and goes through some amazing towns and locations: John O'Groats, Durness, Applecross, Thurso, Ullapool, Assynt, Torridon, Dornoch.. to name just a few.

Read more about this crazy 516 mile route here.

There are lots of guides and blogs about things to do on the route, but what about castles?

There are many amazing castles to visit on this route. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a hearty sample to whet your appetite!

Take a look:

  1. Dunrobin Castle in Golspie

Just 20 minutes down the road from Palmer Designs’ base in Dornoch, this is a true gem of the local area. The interior is filled to the brim with history, containing many fascinating artifacts.

The building itself is amazing too - the castle has a fairy-tale appearance, which conical spires and an impressive silhouette from all angles.

But my favourite section of all has to be the formal gardens. They are truly stunning in all types of weather and the view overlooking the north sea is just beautiful. The grounds are kept in tip-top condition and everytime I go I enjoy discovering a new area that I hadn’t thoroughly explored before.

Bonus tip: Don’t miss the falconry displays in the summer!

Read more here: http://www.dunrobincastle.co.uk/

  1. Castle of Mey near Thurso

The Castle of Mey was the property of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1952 to 1996, where she used to visit every year. It was her secret retreat and she last visited in October 2001 at the grand age of 101.

The castle was generously donated in 1996 as part of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust. It now makes for an essential stop on your NC500 route: the building and grounds are beautiful and are well looked after.  

If you’re interested, you can even have your wedding here, too!

Like Dunrobin, this castle also has some stunning gardens to explore. Take a moment to relax and unwind and enjoy the fresh Scottish air.

Read more here: https://www.castleofmey.org.uk/

  1. Ardvreck Castle in Assynt

Perhaps not as intact as the previous two buildings, this castle is still well deserving of a place on my list.

There is a ton of history wrapped up in this castle: take a read of my visit here earlier this year.

The surrounding scenery of Assynt is just fantastic. Driving down the single track roads will give you a true slice of some of the finest scenery in the highlands, a truly immersive Scottish Highlands experience.


  1. Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle is actually the official starting point of the North Coast 500, so what would this list be without it!

It sits right beside the River Ness and although unfortunately the inside is not currently open to the public, you can still enjoy fantastic views over Inverness from the grounds.

What a great way to start your journey!

Get your own little Inverness Castle memento here: Inverness Castle

  1. Castle Sinclair Girnigoe near Wick

A stunning castle set precariously on a cliff edge, located just outside of Wick on the Northeast coast.

There’s a beautiful walk to the castle and the surrounding scenery is beautiful. Although most of the castle is surrounded by the sea, you can still walk around to get quite a lot of different viewpoints.

Take some time to enjoy the local wildlife. On a good day you’ll likely see many lapwings, oystercatchers, fulmars and maybe even a puffin or two. Keep your eyes open for grey seals, too.

Historically, the castle was originally occupied in the 14th century by the Sinclair Family who later became the Earls of Caithness, the county that the castle sits in today. The family also owned Rosslyn castle, just outside of Edinburgh.

Read more here: http://www.castlesinclairgirnigoe.org/


Have you done the North Coast 500 yet? Or do you have a trip planned? Leave a comment below.

Psssst: Don't forget to swing by Palmer Designs in Dornoch and say hi!

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