On Thursday 10th August 2023 our Group Social Media Manager and a couple friends departed on a 5 day NC500 trip from Edinburgh. Eastern BMW, located within Edinburgh's Luxury Car Village provided a very suiting vehicle for the trip, in the form of a Sapphire Black M440i with contrasting Tacora Red leather interior.
Adding 5 doors and a tailgate to the 4 Series boosts cargo space and access. There’s a 470-litre boot back there, which is 30 litres up on the two-door model. Combine this with the wide-opening hatchback tailgate, and that makes the Gran Coupe quite a practical option. Perfect for an adventure just like this with plenty space for your camping gear and friends. Flick it into Sport mode and the car comes to life, there weee no compromises on the driving aspect whatsoever!
After fuelling, the exciting journey up the East Coast began. We covered roughly 260 miles here and were driving for the majority of the day. The seats were incredibly comfy in the M440i and the Average Speed camera areas heading to Inverness were even a breeze. The car was equipped with Cruise Control, and in 'Comfort' mode we genuinely just 'cruised' along.
We made a quick pit-stop at the absolutely mesmerising Dunrobin Castle and took this opportunity to grab a quick picture of the car in front of it. From here we travelled further up North to Dunnet Head. This is the is actually the most Northernly point of both mainland Scotland and the island of Great Britain.
The town of Thurso was nearby so this was our camping spot for the first night. It was a lovely spot on the beach, however the sheer amount of midges were definitely less enjoyable!
Due to our first day being rather driving-heavy we decided to only scale the rest of the North Coast on the second day and have more time to take in the surroundings.
Smoo Cave was our first visit which is a large combined sea cave and freshwater cave in Durness, Sutherland. This uniquely formed sea cave was seriously impressive and we were all glad we visited.
We spent a lot of time in the Village of Durness. There were enough local amenities such as restaurants and shops to keep us entertained and this also allowed us to re-stock on essentials.
The beach that we camped on was called Sango Bay. Its beautiful white sandy beaches, backed by grassy sand dunes, resulted in a truly jaw-dropping view for us all to wake up to the next morning.
Down the West Coast we headed, where the sandy beaches only got whiter and the seas bluer. If you ever get the chance, don't miss the opportunity to experience this coastal wonderland that truly feels like a dream brought to life. It had me realise that you do not need to travel to countries such as Croatia to witness mind-boggling coastal scenery like this. We have it right here on our doorstep!
The Wailing Widow Falls is a spectacular waterfall in the Scottish Highlands that can be viewed from both above and below. The 50ft falls spill out over the cliff from Loch na Gainmhich, crashing into a narrow canyon at the bottom. This was our first stop of the day and well worth it... we even had a cold dip and cleaned off in the basin of the tremendous waterfall.
We then stopped off for a quick bite to eat in the pretty fishing village of Lochinver which offers incredible mountain views, white sandy beaches, unique wildlife and legendary tasty pies... yum yum.
As it became dark we camped up and were greeted with a sky full of stars. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, and you could even see the galaxies thanks to the almost non-existent light pollution in these remote areas.
Our spirits were dampened a little to begin with as we woke up to a storm and rain battering off the tents. This was the day we were travelling along the famous Bealach na Bà route... which I was buzzing for.
This is a twisting mountain pass on the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross that's undeniably the most famous section of the North Coast 500 Highland touring route.
In fact, it was actually as the only road linking Applecross with the rest of the country until the late 20th century.
The rain continued to downpour, and at first I was a little hesitant to drive the route incase we were met with dangerous conditions. However, with xDrive, BMW's intelligent all-wheel drive system, the car responded quickly to allow maximum driving pleasure, even on the most difficult road surfaces. I felt 100% safe, and the car stuck to the tarmac - no slippage whatsoever.
Continuing further down South we stopped off at some other historic landmarks. Our first being Eilean Donan which is a castle tidal island situated at the confluence of three sea lochs, about 1 kilometre from the village of Dornie.
65 miles later and we found ourselves near Fort William. Not far from here you can find the monumental Glenfinnan Viaduct which was famously featured in the Harry Potter series and built between 1897 and 1901. Whilst here we heard a train travelling towards us in the distance, which we thought could have been the Jacobite Steam Train... however it was just a standard Scotrail number. Nonetheless, it was still awesome to witness!
The gorgeous village of Glencoe was our camping spot for the last night. It lies in steep-sided Glencoe valley, in the Scottish Highlands. We arrived past dusk and were fortunate enough to see a couple of red deers on route.
Primarily the last day consisted of getting us all home. From Glencoe we set off back through Glasgow and towards Edinburgh. A quick stop was needed to clean the car off, and it was back to looking brand new again. The Sapphire Black paintwork really does give this car a stealthy look and the burst of colour upon stepping inside the Tacora Red interior is a lovely surprise.
Overall, the Gran Coupe's build quality, comfortable ride and enjoyable driving dynamics cannot be faulted.
The 382-hp M440i, with it's 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six engine, propels itself from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds. With all that space and comfort too... what is not to love?!