Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

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Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby netwave » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:21 am

Hi everyone,

I'm a (board) member of the Flanders MX-5 Club in Belgium. I registered myself on this forum because I'm going to drive the NC500 next year with a friend. I know you've all been driving these roads way before they put a nametag on it. I'm looking for tips, do's & don'ts, and perhaps even meet some of the local MX-5 guys on the way.

First, I'm aware the NC500 (and the whole of Scotland for that matter) isn't a known for its excellent weather conditions. Yet I would like to maximize my chances. It look like the months of May and June have the most sun (and less rain) statistically. I know this doens't mean a thing, but I would like to have the odds on my side. I also think this time of year, the NC500 wouldn't be too crowed (yet). What do you guys think? Is this a good period to drive the NC500?

Secondly, for those of you who already drove (parts of) the NC500 in an MX-5: how was it? Are the roads in good condition? Should I expect a lot of potholes? If campers can do it, I assume Bealach na Ba isn't a problem for these tiny cars? Anything else I should be aware of?

With kind regards,

Steven Spits
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby IanH » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:43 pm

May is before any school holidays and generally has a chance of reasonable weather. Depending on how the winter is will depend on how bad the midges are..

Book any accommodation now, you may be too late already in some places.

Roads are generally good quality, quite a few have benefited from EU investment, who thought that ever would be a good idea! :lol:

Don't miss Cocoa Mountain, original in Durness and new one in Dornoch... coming from Flanders you might be familiar with good chocolate :mrgreen:

Many other parts of Scotland are also fantastic for driving, in the North you could also visit Cromarty and the Black Isle, don't miss out on the Lecht and also Deeside. Come to Aberdeenshire for the home of BrewDog and superb craft beer. Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, Oban, Glen Coe, the Kinlochring (Kinlochleven loop) and down to Portpatrick in the South West... etc etc..
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby Enjay » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:12 pm

IanH wrote:Depending on how the winter is will depend on how bad the midges are..

Through no better reference than "it feels about right in my head" I tend to think of 15th May as "Midge day". Before that, midges are unlikely after that they get more and more likely as the summer peak approaches. Of course, that's not a hard and fast rule but, like I said, it feels about right.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby liathach » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:30 am

Many of the small villages like Applecross and Durness have 24hr fuel pumps. Please buy some fuel to keep the pumps viable.

Book accommodation early!

Be aware some of the roads are narrow and use Passing Places wisely.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby netwave » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:30 am

This kind of stuff is exactly why I registered on this board, thanks all!

So May it is!

Are midges really that much of a problem during high season? I've read dozens of articles on the NC500, and they all mention those pesky midges. What's the difference between midges in Scotland and mosquitoes in Southern Europe? Too many of them? Or is their bite really that bad?

Consensus seems to be that May is not yet 'high season' for midges, both here and online. So I should be okay, I guess?

IanH wrote:Roads are generally good quality, quite a few have benefited from EU investment, who thought that ever would be a good idea! :lol:


Well, I don't want to turn this thread into something policital, but it's a shame the majority of the UK seemed to think otherwise. I realize Scotland voted differently.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby Scotty Dugg » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:00 pm

The road at Applecross is great and the Applecross Inn at the end of it has great food so well worth a stop, there is also a "glamping" site not far from there if you want to stay. if you're going that way already a loop of the northern point of Skye would be worth it, the road that goes up through the "old man of storr".

neither Applecross or old man of storr roads are fast, but good fun none the less.

if there are multiple cars walkie talkies/CV radios are very handy.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby Enjay » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:34 pm

netwave wrote:Are midges really that much of a problem during high season? I've read dozens of articles on the NC500, and they all mention those pesky midges. What's the difference between midges in Scotland and mosquitoes in Southern Europe? Too many of them? Or is their bite really that bad?

An individual bite isn't that bad (unless you have an allergic reaction or similar) but they appear in clouds and gnaw away at you. They are really irritating. The way they bite isn't like a mosquito. A mosquito's bite is kind of like an injection. Midges (which are much smaller than a mosquitoes) sort of "shear" away at your skin to create a tiny pool of blood (so small you probably won't see it). It is the shearing action that makes them feel irritating at the time. However, whereas a mosquito bite may remain like an itchy lump for days or even weeks, midge bites are usually far more short lived (mostly just annoying at the time), especially if you itched your skin or otherwise chased away the midge before it had done too much damage (and especially releasing its anti-coagulant) but nastier ones can last. And, again, if you are sensitive to them you might find a bite can swell up or weep a bit.

So, as a general rule, an individual bite tends not to be too bad but midges have an annoying habit of swarming around you in clouds with multiple insects biting you at one time. Itchy as hell at the time and, if you can't get into cover or away from them somehow, they can make being outside miserable. What's more, the ones on the north and west of the country do seem to be worse than elsewhere.

That being said, they don't stop me going hill walking, camping or spending time outdoors (even though I had an utterly miserable, almost nightmarish experience with them once via an ill advised camping spot). Insect repellent sprays and creams can help keep them at bay (though nothing works 100% in my experience) and, if you're a smoker (I'm not) - light up, that really works wonders.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby netwave » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:51 am

Scotty Dugg wrote:if you're going that way already a loop of the northern point of Skye would be worth it, the road that goes up through the "old man of storr".

You mean something like this?

Image

Would Skye be worth the detour? Even if this mean we would have less time to spend on the NC500 itself?

Google images of Skye are absolutely breathtaking!
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby netwave » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:53 am

Enjay wrote:An individual bite isn't that bad (unless you have an allergic reaction or similar) ...SNIP...

Thanks man, EXCELLENT explanation!
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby Scotty Dugg » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:02 am

netwave wrote:
Scotty Dugg wrote:if you're going that way already a loop of the northern point of Skye would be worth it, the road that goes up through the "old man of storr".

You mean something like this?

Image

Would Skye be worth the detour? Even if this mean we would have less time to spend on the NC500 itself?

Google images of Skye are absolutely breathtaking!


If you google Staffin to Uig, there is a road that cuts straight through the green stuff, 9.9 miles long, goes past the starting point and car park for the Quiraing Walk. That's the one I meant. Will also give a good tour of Skye. Some of the roads are stunning for scenery and tight and twisty, if not particularly fast.

A quick stop at Kilt Roco on the way to Staffin might be worth the 5 minutes it'd take as well.

Hope all that helps.
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Re: Going to drive the NC500 next year: tips?

Postby netwave » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:49 am

Scotty Dugg wrote:If you google Staffin to Uig, there is a road that cuts straight through the green stuff, 9.9 miles long, goes past the starting point and car park for the Quiraing Walk. That's the one I meant. Will also give a good tour of Skye. Some of the roads are stunning for scenery and tight and twisty, if not particularly fast. A quick stop at Kilt Roco on the way to Staffin might be worth the 5 minutes it'd take as well.

Yes, I found everything! The road, the car park, the walk, and Kilt Rock! And Old Man of Storr, Brothers Point, etc...

Looks like there's so much to see on Skye, making it worth the detour?

Scotty Dugg wrote:Hope all that helps.

It sure does, thank you!
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