Highlands & Islands

North Coast 500 'now possible by electric car'

Kylesku Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The North Coast 500 involves 500 miles of road in the Highlands

A road route dubbed Scotland's answer to the USA's historic Route 66 can now be travelled using an electric car, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

The North Coast 500 involves travelling 500 miles (804km) round the coast of the Highlands.

The trust has been driving the route in fully electric and also hybrid cars using charging points along the way.

Rebecca Fretwell, of the trust, said such a trip would not have been possible a year ago.

The trust has been visiting communities along the way, including Tongue, Wick, Lybster and Brora, to raise awareness about electric cars.

Image caption Outside of Inverness and Dingwall, there are 11 rapid charging points on the route

Cars made by Tesla, BMW, Nissan and Renault are involved.

There are 11 rapid charging points, which recharge batteries to 80% in about 30 minutes, on the NC 500, and others available in Inverness and Dingwall.

Ms Fretwell told BBC Alba: "We could not have undertaken this journey last year. There were just not enough charge points.

"Highland Council, the Energy Saving Trust and Transport Scotland have been investing in the rapid charge points network.

"There is now a rapid charge point within many communities within the Highlands."

The NC 500 is promoted as a tourist route to holidaymakers in the UK and abroad.

Image copyright Kirk Watson
Image caption Six of a team of seven women who set a new record time for cycling the NC 500 last month

It involves long stretches of single track road and also several challenging ascents and descents, including the Bealach-na-Ba at Applecross.

The unclassified road rises to about 626m (2,053ft) over about four miles (8km).

Last month, seven women cyclists set a time of 36 hours to complete the NC 500 in a non-stop team time trial.

Their time set a new record for cycling the route.

Scottish endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont previously completed the NC 500 solo in 37 hours 58 minutes.

Route 66 was one of America's original highways and was built in the 1920s. Today it continues to be promoted as a tourist route between Chicago and the west coast.

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