Top legal firm sponsoring economic development initiative of Highlands North Coast 500 scenic drive route

Top legal firm, Burness Paull, has underlined its commitment to the Highlands region by signing up as a corporate sponsor of the North Coast 500 [NC500], a scenic route through the Scottish Highlands that will feature in BBC Two’s Top Gear this Sunday, 3rd July 2016.

Seen as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the NC500 is a 500-mile circular route on the north coast of Scotland that starts and ends at Inverness Castle and crosses through the old Highland counties of Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness.

The NC500, beginning in Inverness, heads west towards Kyle of Lochalsh, up the west coast to Durness and across the most northerly stretch to John O’Groats then back down to Inverness again, covering a total of 500 miles.

En route, it takes in the timeless Applecross peninsula; the Torridon mountains; Loch Maree, with the Bein Eighe Nature reserve on its west side and the unforgettable Slioch on is east side; Loch Ewe, with its memories of the Arctic Convoys that gathered and sailed from there to Murmansk in Wold War 2 – and the famous Inverewe Gardens; Loch Broom and Ullapool; going on north, with views first to the Summer Isles, through Lochinver and the Stoer headland with its ‘Old Man’ and the magnificent five peaks of Suilven, Stac Polaidh, Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Canisp – each distinctive; and on past the Quinag through wilds to Durness, east of Cape Wrath on the north coast.

The NC500 then runs east along the north coast, running inland to round Loch Erribol before easting again to the Kyle of Tongue and Bettyhill, passing the northern  coastal peaks of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal, with their scarp slopes making them look like waves breaking toward the ocean, rather than from it. Further east, it leaves on the seaward side the still present dome of the decommissioning fast breeder nuclear reactor at Doonreay power station before arriving in Thurso and on along the east Caithness coast to John O’Groats. After that comes the leg south back to Inverness, down the striking coast through Wick and past the Greay Cairns of Camster to the west of the A9; plummeting down into Helmsdale and on though Brora to Golspie, with the provocatively in-your-face statue of the First Duke of Sutherland, infamous in the annals of th Highand Clearances, plonked right on the top of the Ben Bhraggie ridge above the town.

This takes you on to the long bridge across the Dornoch Firth and on through Tain, swinging south westwards down the Cromarty Firth. through the pretty town of Beauly and back to Inverness. Once you’re south of the Dornoch Firth, this is the boring stretch of the entire circuit – but worth it for a route that wheels around some of the greatest scenic spectacles of the Highlands.

Villages along the route have concerns about any potential development of a phenomenon already happening to a degree – high performance cars racing the route  – with much of it on narrow rural roads – to set and challenge a speed record. The worry is that this out of place activity puts local residents at risk, brings noise pollution to a markedly tranquil place and accelerates  erosion of road surfaces with local authority road repair budgets not up to that challenge. This is a scenario that will be under constant scrutiny and if or how it develops is for the future. Such use is certainly way outside the concept of this route and oblivious to its essential nature.

Though centred on the route itself, the NC500 project is an economic initiative that has been put together to raise awareness of the North Highlands as a top visitor destination. The route not only showcases the region’s natural beauty, but the diversity and quality of its food, drink, accommodation and culture too.

As a corporate partner Burness Paull will support this exciting initiative and develop the strong relationships that it has in the North.

Burness Paull chairman Philip Rodney says: ‘As a self admittedly obsessed petrolhead, I am really excited about the firm’s involvement with Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Featuring NC500 on Top Gear will ensure that it becomes a magnetic destination for global tourism. Tourism accounts for 3% of Scottish economic output and supports 170,000 jobs. A substantial part of the industry is centred in the Highlands.

In addition, it’s a hub for the food and drink sector. The food and drink businesses of the north of Scotland are veteran exporters and our sponsorship of NC500 will allow us to exploit the overseas interest that NC500 brings to the area for the benefit of these clients and their premium products, in terms of both exporting and investment opportunities. As a region, it’s very important for the firm.“

Burness Paull has long-standing relationships with businesses and organisations across the Highlands and Islands and counts the likes of Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Baxters Food Group and Glen Grant Distillery among its clients.

Last month the firm teamed up with North Highlands Initiative, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and the Inverness Chamber of Commerce to host an event for businesses in Inverness and the Highlands to discuss the opportunities presented by the recently announced £315m Inverness City Region Deal.

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