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Exploring the North Coast 500 with Your Furry Friend: A Guide to Dog-Friendly Adventures in the Scottish Highlands

One man and his pack....

Embarking on the North Coast 500 (NC500) with your dog can be an unforgettable experience, combining the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands with the joy of sharing the adventure with your four-legged companion. This iconic route spans roughly 500 miles, winding through stunning landscapes, quaint villages, and past breathtaking coastlines and castles. Here's how you and your canine can make the most of this epic journey.

Best Times to Visit the NC500 with Your Dog

1. Late Spring, Early Summer or Autumn: Opt for May, June, or September to avoid the midges that are prevalent during the summer months and to escape the high season crowds. The weather is usually mild during these months, making it comfortable for both you and your dog to spend long hours outdoors.

2. Avoid the Winter: While the Highlands are beautiful in winter, many amenities along the NC500 might close for the season, and the roads can be challenging to navigate due to snow and ice.

3. Summer not the Best for Dogs: Whilst the July and August summer months may be appealing, parts of the route can become very Busy because of the Annual School Holidays. Therefore it maybe best to keep nervous Dogs and Children Apart. It can also get hot as well (yes amazingly), so Dogs in hot Vehicles is not an ideal scenario.

Dog-Friendly Spots Along the NC500

1. Beaches: The NC500 boasts numerous stunning beaches where dogs can run freely. Achmelvich and Dornoch Beach are just two highlights where dogs can enjoy the sand and surf, although it's wise to check local signage for any seasonal restrictions.

2. Trails: The route offers plenty of walking opportunities that are perfect for dogs. The Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and the paths around Loch Maree provide not only gentle walks but also spectacular scenery. Always keep your dog on a leash where livestock are present, to prevent disturbances.

3. Attractions: Many of the castles and gardens along the NC500, such as Dunrobin Castle, have grounds where dogs on leashes are welcome. It’s a great way for both you and your pet to soak in some history and culture.

4. Rivers, and Lochs: Many dogs absolutely love water and you can sometimes struggle to keep them out of it. So Scotland is the perfect place for Water loving breeds to visit and have a wail of a time. Just remember to keep them Safe in fast flowing rapids or muddy River Estuaries

Tips for a Smooth Trip with Your Dog on the NC500

1. Prepare for the Weather: The Scottish weather can be unpredictable. Pack a waterproof dog coat for rainy days and always have plenty of fresh water and a bowl available to keep your dog hydrated, especially after salty sea swims or long hikes. Plenty of Dogs Towels and dry bedding

2. Health Checks: Before setting off, ensure your dog’s vaccinations, flea and tick treatments are up to date. Consider a quick check-up with your vet to ensure they’re fit for the trip.

3. Pack Essentials: Bring your dog's usual food, treats, their lead, waste bags, a first-aid kit, and any medications. Familiar items like their bed or a favourite toy can help them feel at home while on the road.

4. Be Mindful of Wildlife and Livestock: The Highlands are home to abundant wildlife and livestock. Keep your dog under control, particularly near cliffs, and on farmland where sheep and cattle graze.

5. Plan for Emergencies: Know where the nearest veterinarians are along the route, and keep their contact information handy. A mobile phone with good coverage is essential for emergencies.

6. Choosing the Right Campervan: If you are planning to tour in a Campervan then choosing one that allows dogs and offers the right amount of Space is Key. Most Vans aren't designed to accommodate Canines, so you will have to think about how it will suit them and their needs and still be okay for the Homosapian travellers. Soggy, Wet and Muddy Dogs are not appreciated by everyone!

Exploring Responsibly

As you travel the NC500, it's crucial to practice good pet etiquette. Keep your dog leashed where required, always clean up after them, and respect the local environment and wildlife.

Traveling the NC500 with your dog not only adds joy to your journey but also encourages you to explore the great outdoors more extensively. With a little preparation, the North Coast 500 can be a wonderful adventure for both you and your pet, filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

Canine Bliss awaits....... on Dornoch Beach!


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