SUPERCAR drivers have been accused of wrecking roads in the far north of Scotland.
The North Coast 500 has been described as one of the top six driving routes in the world, despite only being created in 2014.
But communities along the stunning 500-mile route say they are suffering traffic jams and crumbling road surfaces.
Starting in Inverness, the coastal circuit winds its way north towards John O’Groats before passing the late Queen Mother’s Castle of Mey residence and looping down towards Ullapool.
Traffic has increased in some areas by 30% as a result of the route’s creation and Durness, Sutherland, recently installed a 24 hour petrol station to cope with the increase in traffic.
Alasdair Macleod, Applecross Community Council Chairman, said the NC500 is “out of sync with the lifestyle” of the area.
Mr Macleod said: “We are already seeing huge deterioration on the Beaclach na Ba [gaelic for ‘pass of the cattle’] with the side of the roads crumbling – six inches to a foot deep on the verge.”
“It’s beautiful here, you can understand why people are wanting to come, but there’s a lack of awareness sometimes with the drivers. There’s people here who have to get to work and not everyone works in the tourist industry.
“Hired cars – which don’t have a proper spare tyre – don’t know how to drive along these roads and go in to the verges, and get punctures. The local garage now has a stack of spare tyres outside and has never been so busy.”
Mr Macleod continued: “It’s out of sync with the lifestyle here. “I went to a meeting in Lochcarron, a journey that would take me 35 minutes, but I ended up 45 minutes late.”
According to Mr Macleod, the local inn can serve up to 500 meals in a day and that increases by 10 or 20% during summer. The same establishment is almost fully booked between May and August and stays of more than three days are almost impossible.
Director of Durness Development Group, Neil Fuller, said: “There has been an explosion in the camper-vans. Anyone with a tourist business is delighted but anyone who isn’t tourism-related just suffers.”
Highland Council have been approached by the community council to help and are investigating “strip-tarring”. The process involves putting tar at the edges of the road to help prevent damage but locals say complete road resurfacing is the only long-term answer.
Advice for travelers along the route has been added to the North Coast 500 website, warning them not to travel convoys and allow people to overtake.
Performance Portfolio, who charge £2,250 for two people to spend two days on the NC500 in cars such as Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Mclarens, said some other car clubs were giving the route a “bad name”.
She said: “Some other car clubs and rallies have been using the route like a race track. We police our tour strictly and brief our drivers before every tour to make sure they respect the road and road users and not treat it like a race track.
“You’ve got to patient on the road. We have a lead car on our tours who goes ahead and warns other road users who may be coming down the Bealach na Ba that there is a couple of cars coming up the hill to avoid being caught out and going into the verges.
“I think the route is fantastic for the Highlands but it has to be managed properly.”
Locals in the region have complained of the high-powered cars travelling through the area.
Donald James Mackay, a crofter near Durness, said: “They’re not used to driving on these single track roads and some of them are in these high-powered cars are pretty reckless.”
A spokeswoman for the Highland Council said: “Currently there is no budget to repair the road. It has been identified by the council and any repairs undertaken will be spread across a number of years.
“It would be a mixture of resurfacing and strip-tarring.
“In addition, part of the road along the Bealach na Ba runs across a private esate which would be responsible for the repairs.
“It’s still driveable and there is no urgency for the repairs.”