The Beeb has a photographic piece on cycling the NC500. Unfortunately, these serene images, featuring four cyclists riding quiet scenic roads, are completely misleading as to the reality of cycling on the NC500.
I have just spent two weeks cycling on a section of the route in the North West, and the simple truth is the creation of the NC500 has turned what once might have been one of the best cycle touring destinations in the UK into a busy, unpleasant, thoroughfare.
The two lane sections of the route are particularly awful to cycle on. The two lane roads in the NW frequently lend themselves to driving at speeds well above the speed limit even though the winding and undulating nature of the road often means very limited visibility. Performance car racing along the NC500 is rampant and Police Scotland seem unperturbed (I did not see a single police car on the open road). As a cyclist you will be repeatedly passed by cars travelling at idiotic speeds, and often passing very close.
On the single track roads the traffic usually moves a bit slower and you at least have the option to prevent close passing by systematically riding in the primary position. But traffic jams are common, as the traffic bunches up and passing places are far apart, and this makes all of the drivers just that bit more inconsiderate. Again and again you will run into drivers who will not wait at passing places for you, expecting you to dismount and step off the road. The worst offenders in this regard are the large camper vans, even though these vehicles barely fit the narrow tarmac lanes alone, and it is literally impossible for a cyclist to pass them.
I have always wanted to do a proper bike tour of the NW, but after those couple of weeks this July I largely lost the appetite for it; perhaps during the off season months it still might be a nice trip.
I have made a formal complaint to the BBC over the above piece, the selection of images presented without any commentary misrepresents what the NC500 is like, and I'd like to see a bit more balanced coverage of it.