NatureScot has teamed up with the North Highland Initiative and North Coast 500 Ltd to launch a new campaign aimed at helping people explore and rediscover the north Highlands responsibly after almost of year in lockdown.
The Explore North Coast 500 campaign showcases over 50 sites of historical interest and natural heritage, including Smoo Cave, Duncansby Head, Wick Heritage Centre, Castle of Mey, Sandwood Bay, Attadale Gardens, Gairloch Museum and Torridon Countryside Centre and Deer Museum.
The campaign has been designed to encourage responsible and sustainable tourism in the north Highland countryside and along the region’s coastline, whilst respecting the fragile landscape and local communities.
The campaign also urges visitors to slow down, explore away from the beaten track and focus on wellbeing experiences, such as walking, hiking and wildlife spotting.
As well as enjoying breath-taking beauty and endless opportunities for getting close to nature, the Explore North Coast 500 campaign is encouraging people to relax with warm Highland hospitality and delicious Highland food and drink.
The campaign also champions the north Highland region as a prime destination for eco-travel, encouraging travellers to be mindful of their environmental impact.
Top campaign tips include planning and booking ahead, leaving no trace of litter, spending extra time in the region, travelling conscientiously, stepping away from the car to look for alternative ways to travel, moving on if places look busy and using local expert guides where available.
Ian Sargent, NatureScot’s nature reserve manager said: ‘The NC500 route showcases Scotland’s outstanding nature and cultural heritage, taking in world-famous UNESCO sites, National Scenic Areas and five National Nature Reserves.
‘The Explore NC500 e-brochure features more than 50 destinations for people to discover, including many hidden gems.
‘As lockdown restrictions lift, we want everyone to explore our world-renowned outdoors, have an amazing adventure and help conserve and protect our unique nature by following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – remember to care for the environment; respect the interests of other people, and be responsible for your actions.’
David Hughes, board member of North Highland Initiative, added: ‘We’re delighted to be supporting the Explore North Coast 500 campaign and actively encourage visitors to respect, protect and enjoy the North Highlands this summer and beyond.
‘The north Highlands has over 10,000 square miles of wild, wide open countryside, rugged coastlines, breathtaking lochs and majestic mountain ranges as a place of tranquillity to slow down, take stock and refresh after lockdown.’
Craig Mills, head of operations at North Coast 500 Ltd, commented: ‘NC500 Ltd is pleased to be working in partnership with our friends at NatureScot and North Highland Initiative to promote the safe and responsible re-opening the North Highlands to visitors this summer and beyond.
‘It’s really important that we all work together to help each other through the challenges ahead after almost a year in lockdown.
‘With its breath-taking beauty and endless opportunities for getting close to nature, North Coast 500 is the perfect way to explore and rediscover the north Highlands.’
The new Explore North Coast 500 campaign leaflet can be downloaded from the NatureScot website.