Plan your trip to the northern coast of Scotland and enjoy a road trip around the most scenic landscape in the world with this relatable and reliable guidebook, detailing not only the best and most popular sights along the route but also the hidden gems that most overlook.
Orders for the most in-depth travel guide to the North Coast 500 are now open.
The North Coast 500 is the most popular road trip in the UK and is Scotland’s answer to route 66. This stunning coastal route follows many beautiful beaches, as well as plenty other hidden gems, including waterfalls.
In this post, we share the best waterfalls on the NC500 route that you must add to your North Coast 500 itinerary.
No time to read now? No problem, save a pin to your Pinterest board for later!
Waterfalls are a great highlight to your NC500. Scotland see’s on average up to 3,000mm of rain per year, meaning the power of the waterfalls on the NC500 is likely incredible. In this post we will go into more details on our favourite waterfalls on the North Coast 500.
- Fairy Glen Falls
- Rogie Falls
- Balck Water Falls
- Big Burn Falls
- Falls of Measach
- Preparing for your trip to the NC500
Fairy Glen Falls
The Fairy Glen Falls is a beautiful waterfall located not far from the small town of Rosemarkie. The walk is around 30 minutes through a woodland trail which is unpathed and can be rough underfoot. Continue to follow the path and it will be obvious when you reach the first waterfall. It sits around 5 meters high and is an impressive photography spot. Follow the stairs up the dirt path and you will arrive at the second waterfall which also sits around 5 meters high. The second waterfall flows into a larger pool of water however this is very shallow.
Wailing Widow Falls
The Wailing Widow Falls is one of Scotland’s most impressive waterfalls.The 50ft waterfalls drops from Loch na Gainmhich, which is surrounded by nearby mountains in the middle of Scotland’s remote west coast. The Wailing Widow Falls can be viewed from the top and the bottom of the waterfall, depending on the angle you prefer. If you have a drone, we believe that this is the best angle to capture the waterfall spilling out of the loch.
Rogie falls is one of the many Forestry Commission attractions in the Ross-shire region in the northern highlands. It is enjoyed by many for its simple walking routes and beautiful waterfalls. There are a number of areas to view the Rogie falls, the best one being on the suspension bridge sitting directly in front of the falls. The best time to go is first thing in the morning when it is a lot quieter and you won’t have anyone in front of your view. It will also be a lot more peaceful at this time. There is a small car park with space for around 20 cars which will get very busy during peak season. There are also toilets and bins on site.
Black Water Falls
The Black Water Falls are a much less visited however not less beautiful falls located near Rogie Falls. Black Water Falls can be viewed from the road, however we would advise parking in the small car park and going for a walk around the falls. There are also toilet facilities in the car park.
There are multiple layers to the waterfalls and as the name suggests, the water is extremely black.
Falls of Shin
Hidden just off the main route of the NC500, the peaceful Falls of Shin is a must-visit attraction on Scotland’s Route 500. This small collection of waterfalls has an easily accessible viewing platform, toilets, a visitor centre and cafe, and is also the perfect place to watch the annual migration of leaping salmon.
Linking Loch Shin and the Kyle of Sutherland, River Shin is a common commute for the Atlantic salmon as they make their annual migration to breed.
If you are wanting to stay at the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre for longer, there is a huge choice of nature walks to enjoy or you can simply relax with a coffee while the kids enjoy the outdoor adventure area.
Big Burn Falls
A hidden gem located in Golspie is the Big Burn Falls. This spectacular waterfall sits at the and the end of a short walk, named the Big Burn Walk.
The car park for Big Burn Falls sits just up the road from the Golspie Inn. It is a small car park, that can fill up during peak season, with a narrow one-way road leading to it.
Follow the path from the car park, through the gorge and across the zig-zag bridges. The scenery is gorgeous walking through the forest. Big Burn Falls sits at the end of a wooden viewing platform which you will need to walk to the end of to get a glimpse of the the falls pouring into the river below.
Falls of Measach
The Falls of Measach sits at the head of the Corrieshalloch Gorge and is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the NC500. There is a short walk to a suspension bridge that sits high up above the mile long canyon with brilliant views of the Falls of Measach.
This waterfall is free to visit daily and is part of the National Trust for Scotland. The falls are located just outside of Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland.
Before You Leave on the North Coast 500
Before you head off on your trip around the NC500, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.
How Do I Get Around the NC500?
Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time on the route, neither of these are very suitable.
As for public transport, the use around the NC500 is understandably difficult due to how remote each location is, however, with the increasing problem of congestion along the route, this is a good option to research if you have time. If it is something that interests you, you can read a public formed itinerary of how to get around the NC500 by public transport over here.
If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip along the NC500, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. We toured with these guys around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in Scotland’s central highlands and could not believe the comfort and customer service we experienced with their vans.
What Should I Pack for the NC500?
When it comes to packing for a trip along the NC500 there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 7-day NC500 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.
As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where Should I Stay on the NC500?
The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations.
Depending on how adventurous you are, there may be more accommodation choices than just the above, often with an even better view. Caravan and camping sites are abundant along the NC500, drawing camping enthusiasts from all over the world. For some of the most spectacular bedside scenery along the North Coast 500, we recommend packing a tent and getting in touch with nature for the week.
As we travelled along the North Coast 500, camped in our trusty Vango tent on a mixture of campsites and wild sites. Wild camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the highlands, however, it must be done respectfully. Read our full guide to Wild Camping if you wish to give it a go so you know everything you need to for a comfortable and sustainable trip.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, the best waterfalls along the North Coast 500. If you have visited the NC500 recently, let us know what you thought of the sights listed above, or if you have any suggestions for other waterfalls, let us know in the comments below.
As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this photo guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own North Coast 500 adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.
When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.
- North Coast 500 Highlights – Best Sights Along the NC500
- North Coast 500 Packing Guide – What You Will Need for the NC500
- 7-day North Coast 500 Itinerary – FREE, Detailed and Unforgettable!
This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small income. For more information read our Affiliate page.