Tourism chiefs have pleaded for people to follow Covid guidelines after a driver from the Central Belt boasted about making a 900-mile round trip to navigate the North Coast 500 route.
Adam Jarguz, from Tranent in East Lothian, posted on a social media site for owners of the Seat Leon MK3 car that he had made the three-day road trip this week.
Alongside pictures taken on the journey, a caption read “NC500 complete” and said his six-speed car had averaged 44.47 miles per gallon over 900 miles.
He said in online comments he camped on the route as hotels and B&Bs were closed and, despite seeing police, was not stopped.
Mr Jarguz insisted he did not encounter anyone during the trip, having visited shops before leaving and used pay-at-pump services for fuel.
The incident, which has been reported to the Crimestoppers charity, prompted an angry exchange of views on owners’ club site.
It has also been condemned by the North Coast 500 Ltd company, and people living on the route.
Tom Campbell, executive chairman of North Coast 500 Ltd, said: “We’re continuing to follow and promote the advice and guidance issued by the Scottish Government as we have done throughout the pandemic.
“We will only encourage people to travel when it is considered safe to do so by the government.
“We strongly condemn any irresponsible or anti-social behaviour conducted by a minority of visitors on the NC500 and would urge people always to report such behaviour to Police Scotland and other relevant authorities in the first instance.
“It is by collective action as a community in the north Highlands that we need to make it clear that we do not tolerate breaches of government advice, guidelines and the law and that when we can and have evidence of such breaches, we will report it to the relevant authorities.”
Margaret Meek, co-founder of NC500 The Land Weeps social media page, criticised the journey as well.
She said: “I think it’s horrible. It’s not a grey area, it’s illegal to go from near Edinburgh to the Highlands for a jaunt for non-essential travel.
“Morally it’s just wrong.
“Obviously he did not drive 900 miles on a round trip and not get out of his car. It’s not rocket science.
“The ones who want to come here in their vehicles want it to be OK and make excuses for themselves. They live in a parallel universe.”
The social media post was spotted by Ali Gillespie from Inverness, who said: “North Coast 500 is local to me. It’s a good thing for the Highlands, but now is not the time for a visit.
“You only need to look at what’s happening in Barra to see what happens when Covid arrives in wee places where locals aren’t expecting it.
“Selfish in the extreme. The guy’s ‘friends’ clearly don’t get it either.”
Mr Jarguz declined to comment when contacted by the P&J, and it is understood he did not make the trip alone.
Police and Crimestoppers could not confirm whether a complaint was received.
This week a North Coast 500 survey showed the majority of visitors forced to postpone trips during the pandemic plan to return – but only when restriction lift.