Hey there, fellow wanderers! Are you ready to discover a hidden gem tucked away on Scotland’s epic NC500 route?
Let me introduce you to Puffin Cove, a ridiculously charming spot where you can kick back, enjoy the soothing sounds of the sea, and maybe even spot some adorable puffins doing their thing.
Puffin Cove really is a stand-out attraction on the North Coast 500 route through the Scottish Highlands.
Due to its relatively unknown status, it means you can get the whole place to yourself and see loads of puffins up at close range, giving a better view than the tourist boat trips would!
This cosy coastal nook is just waiting for you to explore its rugged cliffs and stunning scenery, so stick with us on this blog post as we dive into the magic of Puffin Cove.
Trust us, you’re going to want to add this stop to your Scottish adventure bucket list. Let’s get started, shall we?
Where is Puffin Cove?
Finding Puffin Cove on the NC500 is like uncovering a hidden treasure along Scotland’s breathtaking coastal route, as it isn’t listed on any maps and there are no signposts so it can be a little challenging to find.
As you cruise along the winding roads, keep your eyes peeled for a the signposts for the villages of Caithness and Sutherland, and Puffin Cove is located right on the border between these, in a place called Drumhollistan.
The main way to find it is as you’re coming out of either village look for the goodbye sign and directly after that you will see the small layby to park.
Take a detour down a narrow country lane, meandering through the lush greenery, until you reach a small parking area.
This is a very small layby that has small parking bays you can pull into which will only fit 3-4 cars or maybe 1-2 campervans depending on how people park.
From here, lace up your comfiest walking shoes, and follow the well-trodden path that hugs the coastline.
After a short, invigorating walk, you’ll be rewarded with the stunning beauty of Puffin Cove, a secret spot that feels like it was reserved just for you on this epic adventure along the NC500.
How to get to Puffin Cove?
To Find the cove you will then need to take a small but slightly challenging walk to the puffin cove.
This can take about 5-10 minutes and is a little steep and over some boggy ground and involves scrambling over some rocks, so we would recommend wearing walking boots, especially if the weather isn’t very good.
You just walk directly over the grass from the car park towards the coast and this is where the path starts. You will see a slightly steep dip down the hill and into a small valley, this is where it can get slightly challenging so be careful.
The route wouldn’t really be suitable for pushchairs or anybody with walking difficulties, so be prepared for this.
The what three words is – ///shipped.amplified.skirting – https://what3words.com/shipped.amplified.skirting
When can I see puffins at Puffin Cove?
Between the months of April and August is the best time to visit Puffin Cove if you want to be sure to see puffins, as this is when they come to breed.
We saw many puffins nestled in the cliff side along with many other birds when we visited in June, it was so amazing to see.
They are however small birds and quite far away, so it’s worth bringing some binoculars to be able to see them properly, or like us, use a good zoom on your camera to get some fantastic shots of them.
What is it like at Puffin Cove?
You may be wondering what Puffin Cove is actually like, and as well as seeing the puffins, the place itself is a rather beautiful little spot.
We have included some photos below so that you can see for yourself.
As mentioned before, it is a short walk to Puffin Cove from the parking spot, but a slightly difficult walk on uneven terrain, and if the wet weather here has been bad, it can be boggy, muddy and slippery, so good walking shoes or boots are recommended.
If you would like to find out more about things to see and do on the NC500 in Scotland, then check out some of our other blog posts – Scotland – Three As A Bird
Some facts about puffins before you go and see them
Puffins are small birds with black and white feathers, orange bills and feet and a large colourful orange-red beak with a black tip. They have bright white cheeks surrounding their eyes which give them an adorable look!
Their beaks change colour throughout the year, with the brightest hues seen during the breeding season.
They also have large red webbed feet used to swim underwater as well as to help them walk on land with ease.
There are two species of puffins found in the mainland UK: the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) and the lesser-known tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). Puffin Cove is home to the Atlantic puffin.
Are puffins friendly?
Puffins are generally not considered to be friendly in the sense that they are not domesticated animals and do not seek human interaction. However, they are not typically aggressive towards humans either. Puffins are seabirds that mostly keep to themselves and their colonies. They are known for their distinctive appearance, with colourful beaks and black and white plumage.
While puffins may tolerate the presence of humans, it is essential to maintain a respectful distance and not disturb them, as they are wild animals. If you encounter a puffin in its natural habitat, it is best to observe from a distance and avoid attempting to touch or interact with the bird directly.
What do puffins eat
Puffins primarily feed on small fish, such as sand eels, herring, and capelin, as well as some crustaceans like crabs and shrimp, and sea urchins. They can catch several fish in their beaks at once, thanks to their specialised tongue and upper palate.
Puffins are skilled divers, using their wings to propel themselves underwater to depths of up to 200 feet (60 meters) in search of food.
How long do puffins live?
Puffins can live up to 20 years or more, with some recorded cases of individuals living up to 30 years.
Their breeding behaviour is typically monogamous with one male breeding with one female for a period of time ranging from a year to many years but only around three months when laying eggs.
They build nests out of grass or feathers from their own wings usually near the top of cliffs or tall rocks. Puffin chicks take about 45 days to hatch after which time both parents feed them for at least six weeks before they are fully independent enough to fly away from the nest.
Both parents take turns incubating the egg and caring for the chick, known as a puffling.
What do you call a baby puffin?
A baby puffin is called a puffling. Pufflings are born with black and white feathers, but the white turns to brown after they leave the nest.
Can a puffin fly?
Puffins can fly, and we did puffins flying at Puffin Cove!
They can reach speeds of up to 55mph. Puffins can actually fly in the air and underwater! Puffins have short wings, so they have to flap their wings hundreds of times per minute to achieve flight.
When is the best time to visit Puffin Cove?
The ideal time to visit Puffin Cove is the summer, between April and August, when the puffins are nesting and the weather is relatively mild.
Are there any facilities at Puffin Cove?
Puffin Cove is a remote location and very unspoiled, so there aren’t any facilities on site. Be sure to pack any essentials like food, water, and a fully charged mobile phone
Are there any facilities at Puffin Cove?
Puffin Cove is a remote location and very unspoiled, so there aren’t any facilities on site. Be sure to pack any essentials like food, water, and a fully charged mobile phone.
Is there a fee to visit Puffin Cove NC500?
No, there is no entrance fee to visit Puffin Cove. However, please remember to respect the environment and leave no trace.
How long does it take to walk to Puffin Cove from the parking area?
The walk to Puffin Cove from the parking area is relatively short, taking around 15 – 25 minutes depending on your pace. The path is easy to follow, but sturdy footwear is recommended.
Can I bring my dog to Puffin Cove?
Yes, dogs are allowed at Puffin Cove, but please keep them on a leash to protect the wildlife and respect other human visitors.
Is Puffin Cove suitable for children?
Absolutely! Puffin Cove is a fantastic destination for a family outing. Just ensure that children are supervised at all times due to the rugged terrain and the steep slopes and cliffs.
What other attractions are nearby Puffin Cove?
While exploring the NC500 route, you’ll find several other attractions nearby, including the dramatic Stoer Lighthouse, the picturesque Achmelvich Beach, and the quaint village of Lochinver.
As our journey through the captivating Puffin Cove comes to an end, we hope you’re as excited about visiting this hidden gem as we were.
With its rugged beauty, breath-taking views, and the charming presence of puffins, Puffin Cove is a must-visit destination along the iconic NC500 route.
So, the next time you find yourself exploring the enchanting landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, be sure to carve out some time for this serene coastal haven.
It’s sure to be a magical experience that lingers in your heart long after you’ve returned home.
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I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!