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My North Coast 500 summary

Discussion in 'The UK and Ireland' started by JosiahLockhart, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
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    Location:
    Edinburgh
    We’re now back to Edinburgh after having driven the entirety of the NC500 (plus the miles from Edinburgh to Inverness) in our Model 3 SR+ and, as promised, here is my write up of the journey… (long read)

    Our plan was to do the trip over 5 days, stopping for the night once on the east coast, once on the north coast, and twice on the west coast. Having read other people’s posts (and zap map comments) about parts of this route, there we’re a few areas were worried about, and I started with an ambition of checking on some of the chargers Zap Map said weren’t working (this lasted 2 days). We only saw 1 other Tesla (another black M3 near Ullapool)

    Day 1 – Edinburgh to Brora

    The first half of this day was un-eventful. We left Edinburgh with a 91% charge and made it to the Aviemore for elevenzies with 28% remaining. Then drove up to explore the black isle for the afternoon, grabbing a quick 15min top up in Dornoch to 80% before stopping at our shepherd’s hut for the evening just outside Brora. Top tip… get a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain in Dornoch if you stop here! This section is a very easy drive, mostly dual carriage ways and motorway. In the afternoon we started to have the “blind spot detection unavailable” warning on the car presumably from the low sun shining into the cameras. This became a theme for every morning and afternoon.

    Day 2 – Up and to John O Groats and around to Melvich

    With only 2.5hrs of driving, this was a day with lots of little stops. We made a brief stop at Helmsdale, initially because the blind spot detection warning was back on, plugged into the charger for a min or so until we decided not to worry about the warning and headed up to the Whaligoe Steps. Without the car navigation, we would have never found this as its not sign posted at all. We then proceeded to get a quick 15 min top up in Wick where we realised nothing in the Highlands is open in a Sunday and proceeded to headed up a single track road to Castle Sinclair Girnigo. Again, not sign posted and down a long well paved single track road. Car navigation was great. John O Groats is a tourist trap really with much of the same tat we have in Edinburgh. Duncasby Head is great, but we decided just to head towards Melvich for an early stop to driving. Checked into our b&b and went and toped the car up in the village (20min to get to 80%).

    Day 3 – Around the corner to Drumbeg

    Headed to Tounge for breakfast, and this was our first (and only) issue with a charger. CCS wouldn’t initiate, but as it was more of a charge of convenience , the type 2 worked first time and we got a few miles. Up to Durness and the Smoo Cave and our second Cocoa Mountain stop of the journey. After Durness, the road becomes “for experienced drivers” being mostly single track for the next 2 days. Very well paved with lots of climbing and lots of descending. Watch out for big vehicles on this part of the trip. We toped up to 80% once again at Scourie and spent some time on the beach before heading to Kylesku for dinner. The drive from Kylesku to Drumbeg is sign post not for big vehicles and not for learner drivers. It is probably one of the most difficult parts of the route, and we did it in the dark. DO NOT recommend this if you aren’t a confident driver. Arrived at accommodation with 71% charge and tucked in for the night.

    Day 4 – Drumbeg to Torrindon

    The rest of this peninsula is breath-taking. Our first stop was Achmelvich beach with its white sands and then for breakfast at foodie Lochinver. Easy driving from this point to Ullapool where we got one more top up over lunch. The rest of the day was a mix of 2 land roads and well paved single track, and we arrived at Torrindon with 40%. By my calculations this is the only charge you HAVE to hit. We toped up to 95% overnight on the destination charger. Zap Map says the CPS one is broken, the Inn says it works sometimes. I forgot to try it. This was by far the best place we stayed on the trip.

    Day 5 – Up over the Bealach Na Ba

    Started the day with rain (our only rain the whole trip) as we headed up over the bealach na ba. This is very difficult driving, and I had to turn on Joe Mode. Eventually drove into the cloud (thankful I have one of the SR+’s with fog lights) and took some photos at the top. On the decent, we added 3% of charge through regen and grabbed a coffee at the bottom. From here the journey gets less interesting as its just a drive back to Inverness (and Edinburgh) on mostly wide singe track an eventually dual carriageway. We made it all the way from Torrindon to Aviemore Supercharge with 23% battery and no stops.

    My reflections;

    You don’t need to stop as often a we did.

    Put car in sport steering and max regen. Combination makes a very fun drive.

    The car has more range than you think, even with climbing big long hills

    The road quality is much better than you expect. Found myself going 60 on some of the single track roads

    Planning the trip around charge points did change our experience of the journey, but its mainly because we we’re more cautious than we needed to be.


    I’ll pop up some photos later today
     
    • Like x 13
    • Informative x 1
  2. ianto999

    ianto999 Member

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    Where did you stay in Torridon?
     
  3. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    We stayed at the Torrindon Inn... There isn't much else there. You are allowed to use the destination charger if you are eating at their restaurant/pub. But its only a 7kw Charger.
     
  4. Adopado

    Adopado Active Member

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    I notice you always type Torrindon, here and in your longer report, when it's actually Torridon ... has your auto correct picked up a bad habit (they do sometimes!)?
     
  5. ChrisA70

    ChrisA70 Member

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    Location:
    Westerham
    Great read, thank you! I'm keen to do this next year.
     
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  6. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Edinburgh
    Photos... Beautiful Car, Beautiful Country IMG_20191015_114845.jpg

    IMG_20191016_095511.jpg IMG_20191015_114909.jpg IMG_20191014_153019.jpg IMG_20191013_095108.jpg
     
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  7. Roy W.

    Roy W. Battery running low...

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
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    Location:
    Derby, UK
    Thanks for taking the effort to write this, it’s very interesting and really useful.

    We want to do this trip next year, in our Model 3, so your tips are invaluable.

    Would you mind sharing where you stopped for each night? I’d much rather have a recommendation. If you’re not happy to do that on here perhaps you could PM me the details?

    Last year we had our first trip to Scotland ever - a week touring the Isle of Skye in our KONA, and we really fell in love with the spectacular scenery and friendly people.
     
    • Informative x 1
  8. michaelgill

    michaelgill Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    East Dunbartonshire
    Thanks for the write-up! Very interesting and some great photos.

    Just FYI - Zap Map does not show live status for CPS chargers and so shows comments only. This may be misleading as, in general, users are more likely to post a comment when encountering a negative charge experience. Also, when there are genuine issues which are subsequently resolved, it can be some time before this is reflected in Zap Map.
     
  9. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I won't list the ones I wouldn't reccomend but the two I'd reccomend (due to quality and proximity to charger) are The Torridon Inn in Torridon and Croft View Chalets in Melvich

    You can see the Charge Place Scotland charger statuses in on the Charge Place Scotland website. Its a whorrible website, but a handy co-pilot can check charger status en route on the car's browser.
     
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  10. Chills

    Chills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2018
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    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Nice write up and pictures. We did the NC500 earlier in the year but took a leisurely 11 days adding Orkney, Skye and Handa Islands. Stunning part of the world and great memories. :)

    This pic of yours made me smile as we stopped and took a pic in the same layby by Kylesku bridge. Looks like you had better weather though.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_1771.JPG
     
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  11. Adopado

    Adopado Active Member

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    So did you get the browser feature on your SR+ with the V10 software? Still on V9 here ... mumble grumble...
     
  12. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
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    Location:
    Edinburgh
    Yes I did... Sorry to hear you dont have it... :( Spotify also added wth V10 and works over the car's data. Not that the car's data was always reliable in the highlands.
     
  13. m-i-l

    m-i-l Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    London NW3
    Thanks for the writeup - very interesting.

    One question - was there much traffic? Last time I did that route, it wasn't called the North Coast 500, and you could drive for hours without seeing any other traffic (not counting sheep on the road). But from what I can gather, some people are complaining that it is getting too popular now, especially during school holidays.

    We're currently planning on roughly that route, along with some other places like Loch Ness (have to make sure we go to the official museum rather than the original museum this time:) and a day trip to Orkney by ferry, a week in the May half term or first week of summer holidays next year.
     
  14. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    There wasn't as much traffic as we were expecting, and over the whole route we only passed 1 group of super cars traveling together. It could have been that it was the last week of the tourist season. A few places told us they were closing for winter after this week.

    One problem was hired caravans attempting parts that had clear signs saying no caravans (Applecross and Drumbeg). Everywhere we stopped also had leaflets explaining how to use passing places.

    I can see people are worried. But, roads were in good repair, a sign that cars aren't destroying them yet, and a recent report said the NC500 adds £22mil to the Highland economy each year.

    Choose your week wisely
     
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  15. Adopado

    Adopado Active Member

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    Having these designated routes such as the NC500 is always going to be a double edged thing. It makes it easier to promote in terms of tourism but ultimately it is bound to reduce the quality of the experience if it is "successful" i.e. if lots of people decide to drive a specific route that is attractive in the first place because it is quiet and unspoiled. There are miles and miles of fantastic roads in the north of Scotland and my recommendation is to spend a bit of time looking at maps and plan your own route. By all means include sections of the NC500 but lets spread the load, then everyone benefits.
     
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  16. navguy12

    navguy12 Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    Awesome write up, thanks.

    We have secured a two week rental cottage on Isle of Skye for next September.

    It is my hope that by next year, there will be rental car options in Scotland that include TM3's.
     
  17. rothstmd

    rothstmd Member

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  18. JosiahLockhart

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Edinburgh
    No didn't try to charge to full... that last 10-20% really slows down and we we're usually charging over a meal, or something shortish. 80% was our go-to charge for all the chargers other than when we left (91%) and the last morning (95%) which is the longest section without a charger. In neither case was it really necessary.
     
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  19. michaelgill

    michaelgill Member

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    Location:
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    You'll get an overview of CPS charger status in the WattsUp app too (as well as chargers from other UK CPOs).
     
  20. bjbrown

    bjbrown Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Aberdeen
    Really nice write up and photos. Seems like the car had plenty juice to get round and you never had range anxiety which is good.
     

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