So you’re all set to head out on the North Coast 500, be in by camping, by hotels/pods or by van, and you’re looking for more than just awesome views – you’re looking for an adventure! Then there’s a number of ways you can do this – for example there’s the zipline at Durness, or why don’t you hire a paddleboard and capture the awesome views from the water.
I did the NC500 in two sections (although had previously made a trip to Poolewe – resulting in the find of another excellent Loch that I’ll list below!)
Moray Firth – Ardersier
This may seem obvious but worth pointing out this is the mouth of the Sea. I didn’t paddleboard in this particular section as the tide times weren’t working for me, however I did stay in a car park in a van there for one night and I did go for a “dook” in this water the next morning. It was quite shallow for a fair bit as the tide was heading out – but the hills as a backdrop and the views? JUST STUNNING!
I met some fabulous local wild swimmers who were out doing their kilometres, and very kinfdly grabbed a couple of pictures for me,
This is a picturesque little loch not too far from Contin. I stopped here on my way to Poolewe with my Mum – not too long after my first paddleboard lesson. I was quite nervous as it was the first time I was out on my own – and if I’m honest I probably wasn’t confident enough but I did it anyway. I’m pretty sure I forgot to put the extra fin on the board, and I’m not 100% sure I had blown the board up to the correct PSI – a lesson learned. The most impressive thing here was that I actually managed to stand on the board regardless of those failings!
Just off the parking area (Nearest Postcode is IV14 9EN) is a pebble beach, with a couple of picnic tables, giving you the most perfect views while you eat! This is also where I launched the board from. It was an autumnal day, but the weather was perfect, and the water was like glass! This quickly became one of my favourite lochs in Scotland.
There are some phenomenal beaches around the North West of Scotland – and there’s paddleboarding rental places around Durness – always good if you’re new to paddleboarding and just want to try it out, I’m sure they do tours as well which gives an added safety measure if you’re new to the sport.
The main thing just to be careful of is the conditions – always safety check before heading out – that applies not only to the sea, but also lochs, and any water.
Where else to paddleboard on the NC500?
Embo beach is another popular location – although I didn’t make a stop there on my tour. There’s free parking, and sits just off Embo – surrounded by grassy dunes.
Can you Paddleboard anywhere in Scotland?
In Scotland we have what’s called a “right to roam” which means you can paddle just about anywhere. Does this mean that everywhere is good to paddle? No! There are a number of smaller lochs or part ofbeaches that jsut aren’t suitable for paddling.
There’s also some places that fall under nature reserves, and always worth doing a little bit of research on the water you plan to paddle on – to check wildlife and any restrictions in the area.
How far can you paddle in an hour?
The average paddler can travel around 3 miles in an hour, however I like to explore (and stop for snacks) so I tend to be a little slower and would suggest 2 miles per hour.