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A Plan -Scotland 1, Glasgow to Inverness via North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 is a classic drive starting and finishing in Inverness, most of it follows the wild North West coast of Scotland and is about 500 miles in length. The route marked in blue below.

I think the best way to do this is fly into Glasgow, travel north to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, then travel via the North Coast 500 route from Applecross and finishing in Inverness. Then finish off with a whisky tour of Speyside

Glenfinnan Viaduct / photo credit: Glenn Kilpatrick


Pubs and B&Bs


Fresh Seafood

Smaller Whisky Distilleries of Scotland

There are 128 malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, but I have trimmed the list to 42 smaller and independent ones I’d like to visit

Distillery Location Region Owner
Glen Scotia Campbeltown Campbeltown Loch Lomond Group
Glengyle Campbeltown Campbeltown Mitchell’s Glengyle Ltd
Springbank Campbeltown Campbeltown Independent
Arbikie Inverkeilor Highland Independent
Ardnamurchan Ardnamurchan Highland Adelphi Whisky
Dornoch Dornoch Highland Independent
Edradour Pitlochry Highland Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co
Glencadam Angus Highland Angus Dundee Distiller
Glengoyne Dumgoyne Highland Ian Macleod Distillers
Glenturret Crieff Highland Highland Distillers
GlenWyvis Dingwall Highland Independent (community ownership)
Loch Lomond Alexandria Highland Independent
LoneWolf Ellon Highland Independent
Ncn’ean Lochlaline Highland Drimnin Distillery Co
Strathearn Methven Highland Independent
Tullibardine Blackford Highland Picard Vins & Spiritueux
Twin River Banchory Highland Deeside Brewery & Distillery Ltd
Wolfburn Thurso Highland Independent
Abhainn Dearg Uig, Isle of Lewis Island Independent
Arran Lochranza Island Independent
Harris Tarbert Island Independent
Highland Park Kirkwall Island Edrington
Raasay Isle of Raasay Island R&B Distillers
Torabhaig Teangue, Isle of Skye Island Mossburn Distillers
Ardnahoe Port Askaig Islay Hunter Laing & Co Ltd
Kilchoman Kilchoman Islay Independent
Aberargie Aberargie Lowland Perth Distilling Co
Daftmill Fife Lowland Independent
Eden Mill Fife Lowland Independent
Glasgow Distillery Glasgow Lowland Independent
Inchdairnie Glenrothes Lowland Independent
Kingsbarns Kingsbarns Lowland Wemyss Malts
Lindores Abbey Newburgh Lowland Independent
Ballindalloch Ballindalloch Speyside Independent
Benromach Forres Speyside Gordon & MacPhail
Glenallachie Banffshire Speyside Independent
Glenfarclas Ballindalloch Speyside J. & G. Grant
Glenrothes Rothes Speyside Berry Bros. & Rudd
Macallan Craigellachie Speyside Edrington
Speyside Drumguish Speyside Independent
Tamdhu Knockando Speyside Ian Macleod Distillers
Tomintoul Ballindalloch Speyside Angus Dundee Distiller

Other references :

A bit more about Scottish Whisky

Whisky regions of Scotland

A Plan – Norway

Note : there is a very short tourist season – Hotels, restaurants, and tour companies have a short two-month season in which to make their hay. It’s deadly quiet even in early June or early September.

The Fiords



Boat Cruises

The Geiranger Fjord Cruise & Flam Railway

The only disadvantage of this is that only 2 days are spent on the boat, incliding one night at sea, so you miss some of the scenery,

Stemmo’s alternative

Bergen to Flam by rail

Then Flam to Bergen by regular ferry


Here is another great Cruise – Hurtigruten Classic Round Trip Voyage

12 days there and back, or 6-7 days one way



Akers River

Ride the subway to the top of its Akers River Valley and stroll downhill through a long riverside park — once the city’s churning industrial zone, with factories belching and waterwheels spinning.

The Akers River, though only about five miles long, powered Oslo’s early industry: flour mills in the 1300s, sawmills in the 1500s, and Norway’s Industrial Revolution in the 1800s.


Cafes & Restaurants



Porto has an elegant charm

It seems like it hasn’t changed for a century, fortunately it’s not overun by holiday villas and apartments like so much of the southern coasts or Portugal and Spain.


The Majestic Cafe

One of the worlds top 10 cafes


Lello Bookshop

Famous for its staircase, (it features in a Harry Potter movie), so is very popular with tourists, you have to line up for a ticket to get in, but it is a bookshop, where you can browse and buy.


Churches adorned in blue tiles


The Railway Station


Portuguese Dining

So many places along the river



The River

Porto is at the mouth of the Douro River, most of the cafes, bars and restaurants are along the north bank looking across to the port houses on the southern side


Best place to stay – a river view

A stunning view of the river and port houses on the otherside of the river, downtairs you can walk to about 50 bars cafes and restaurants

for more details, Oporto Home – River Front



The best place to stay and spend leisurley hours is the north bank, opposite on the southern bank are the port houses, close enough to walk to.

You can also reach the city center easily, there is a funicular railway from Ribeira to Batalha, thence walk or tram to the city center, Majestic Cafe (aim to get there at 10:00am), from there across town to the Lello Bookshop (Livraria Lello), then maybe the Railway Station (Porto Sao Bento). Click on the maps to enlarge.

Stretching along the northern bank are most of the cafes and restaurants, far more than are shown here

Port, named after the place it came from

It was very simple really, wine was grown in the Douro Valley and transported in casks by sail boats down to Porto at the river mouth which was a fine deep water port. it was loaded on to sailing ships for shipment to England.
The casks were off loaded and stored awaiting shipment, so the stone warehouses were built to store and protect it, it was then discovered that the older stuff was better, this started the whole technique of aging and blending.


The ships transporting, loading and off loading


The Port Houses

Plenty to explore, my favourites were Offley and Calem, best to go on line and book a tour, ideally in the morning, then follow with a lunch nearby.


My discovery, white port, a very good aperitif


The Douro Valley

I suggest 4 places to go, and a great place to stay

Pinhao, an interesting town on the Douro Valley

Casa de Mateus, this famous estate is near Vila Real

Quinta do Panascal, vineyard and port cellar , 12 minutes from Pinhao

Lamego, a beautiful church and spectacular gardens with its grand stairway

Stay at Casa Dos Barros Villa, Sabrosa not far from Pinhao

see the following posts for details.

Another way to explore is take a tour like this, Wine tours