And now a Falkirk author has written a guide book to help visitors make the most of following the North Coast 500 or NC500 as it is more commonly known.
David Addison’s guidebook, Exploring the NC500: Travelling Scotland’s Route 66, not only follows the 519-mile route along the spectacular north coast of Scotland, it also takes a few interesting detours along the way.
The circular route was designed to introduce people to some of the country’s most amazing scenery but there’s more to it than just beautiful views, said David.
The retired English teacher was asked to write this latest guide by his publisher, who realised there was a demand to find out more about the relatively new route.
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From the world famous Loch Ness monster to the Brahm Seer, via many less well known but equally facinating stories and characters, David’s research reveals the history, myth and legends that feature along the trail – if you take a bit of time to look for them.
“The route was designed to introduce people to parts of Scotland that weren’t much visited,” he explained.
“When I was first asked to do it I thought ‘how am I going to fill this’?
“But, my goodness, it wasn’t a problem at all!
“The NC500 means a lot of things to a lot of people – there are just so many attractions.
“I’ve always had an interest in history so I’ve approached it through its history, legends and myths.”
The circular route starts and ends in Inverness and can tackled by either heading north to John o’ Groats or west towards the Applecross peninsula.
David’s research resulted in him completing the route twice, with his notebook and camera always handy to record interesting sights along the way.
“Some of the things I write about aren’t strictly on the NC500 but that’s ok, these detours are part of the experience,” he said.
His detours included trips to the Black Isle, Strathpeffer and Dingwall.
One of them allowed him to write about the Highland Clearances.
The Duke of Sutherland and his wife, the Countess of Sutherland, were notorious for the way in which they evicted their tenants from the land to make way for more profitable sheep.
“I felt I had to write about the Clearances – they were such an important part of our history,” he said.
But interestingly, David’s research led him to have some sympathy for the notorious Duke.
“I think it was the Countess who was much more responsible for what happened,” he said.
David finds it hard to pick out an individual highlight, although the breathtaking scenery of Applecross and the famous Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) stand out.
“I couldn’t choose a favourite place though,” he said, “there are just too many of them, as well as all the fascinating stories along the route.”
This is David’s tenth book, all of which have been written since he retired from teaching.
Explaining his second career, David said: “When we were on holiday in Italy, my wife suggested that I write about it.
“She’s regretted saying that because that’s all I’ve done ever since!”
With the guide featuring in Amazon’s top ten of travel writing books, it seems the publisher’s faith was well placed.
“It’s going very well, I’ve been amazed actually!” said David, of the books’ sales.
“It’s because of the subject matter – the NC500 has got a website and something like two million people have looked at it.”
The book has a five star rating on Amazon thanks to favourable reviews, like this one by Mhairi Munro.
She said: “David Addison has come up trumps and written a compelling book guiding us effortlessly through northern Scotland.
“I lived there as a child and am fascinated by the history and stories, so much so I now want to drive the route (both ways!!)”