Other Areas – Travelling North
A small village hugging the shore of Loch Ewe and the River Ewe. Poolewe expanded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from a cluster of houses to the village you see now. Its main point of interest is Inverewe Garden, world famous for the variety of tender plants that are able to survive in such a northerly climate.
Overlooking Loch Ewe and Isle of Ewe, Aultbea is a former crofting community and site of a NATO refuelling station, the quay for refuelling vessels being visible from the viewpoint on the approach to Aultbea from Poolewe.
Now just a ruin, but set on a graveyard overlooking the sea at Laide.
Mellon Udrigle Beach
The subject of many a postcard this stunning white sand beach offers views to the far north and the Outer Isles. It can be reached from Laide and is well worth the detour.
As you reach the top of the hill from Laide you can look down on the wide sweep of Gruinard Bay. Ample parking opposite the beach means that you can take time to enjoy a walk across this beach and into the various small bays that are accessible at low tide.
As you reach the viewpoint above Badcaul the small community of Scoraig can be seen on the opposite shore of Little Loch Broom. This is a settlement that is only reachable by sea or on foot and supports a thriving community of resourceful individuals that pursue a wide variety of careers. An infrequent ferry can be summoned to take you across and once there you will, perhaps, appreciate why its inhabitants have chosen to relinquish most of the modern conveniences to spend their days in such an idyllic place.
Alongside Little Loch Broom, Ardessie Falls plunge through a canyon on the right hand side of the road. There is a parking place from which you can walk to view the falls, seen at their best in late Spring when the winter melt water has added to the deluge.
Home of the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue team who have been called out many times to rescue walkers and climbers from the challenging peaks which are the backdrop to Dundonnell. From here you can look back along Little Loch Broom to the Summer Isles beyond.
This is a spectacular gorge spanned by a metal bridge. In 2005 this was closed to visitors because of safety concerns but there are hopes that it will be reopened some time in 2006 once remedial works have been carried out.
At Braemore junction there are two possible routes. Turn right and the road takes you back to Inverness, go left and the road takes you on to Ullapool and the far north.
Continuing north from Gairloch Ullapool lies 55 miles away, overlooking Loch Broom with views out to the Summer Isles.
Ullapool was originally established in 1788 by the British Fisheries Society to service the thriving herring industry and to provide work for families moved from farmland during the Highland Clearances. The town is laid out on a grid system and it is the stepping off point for the Western Isles with daily ferries to Lewis.
Ullapool has a small museum focussing on local history, and in particular on the fishing industry.
Several walks begin in Ullapool and all are well signposted.
There are a variety of shops and services in Ullapool as well as a thriving High School as well as a very active music scene, with live music on offer most nights of the week in several locations.
Just north of Ullapool is Ardmair Beach. The beach boasts a strange collection of beautifully rounded stones, some of them semi-precious.
Taking a detour via Achiltibuie you can see bananas growing in the Hydrponicum and get, arguably, the best views of all of the Summer Isles. A small community, spread out along the shoreline, it is well worth a visit.
A vast area of wilderness that includes one of the most climbed mountains in the area, Stac Pollaidh. This area is a haven for wildlife including wildcat, golden eagle and pine marten.
The recently established Knockan Crag nature reserve has interpretive information and some challenging walks.
Situated at the mouth of the River Inver and with a backdrop of Suilven the setting of Lochinver is truly dramatic.
Tourist Information Centre, Lochinver
Downstairs in the Assynt Visitor Centre, this facility provides the tourist with all the information needed to make their stay a pleasant and enjoyable one.
Tel: 01571 844330
Open 30th May to September
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10am to 5.30pm
Sunday 10am to 4pm.
Highland Regional Council Ranger Service in Assynt
Upstairs in the Visitor Centre is the base for the Ranger Service in Assynt. The Rangers run and maintain the Ranger Hut at Clachtoll, organise walks and events throughout the year and provide an information service for the locals as well as visitors. Their programme of events is published annually, both on a local sheet and in “What`s On in Caithness and Sutherland”.
In the Centre, there are facilities for watching the local heronry on CCTV, in season, and a reference library of material on natural history, geology, and local history.
Situated on a rocky promontory that juts into Loch Assynt. The three-storey tower was built by the MacLeods of Assynt between 1500 and 1590.
In 1650, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose was imprisoned in the castle after his defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale. In 1672 the castle was sacked by the Mackenzies and subsequently replaced by nearby Calda House.
Coast road to Kylesku
This is a pleasant detour taking in some of the finest beaches of the far north at Achmelvich and Clashnessie. This road is a little difficult in places so care should be taken. The Old Man of Stoer, a 250 ft high spectacular sea stack can be seen a short walk from the road at Culkein.
Site of a once thriving ferry the crossing is now spanned by a stylish bridge. From here Eas A’Chual Aluinn waterfall, the highest in Britain with a fall of over 640 ft, can be reached by boat, or on foot.
Scourie and Handa
A good sandy beach and spectacular views across the Minch and to Handa Island which can be visited by boat and is one of the best islands in this area for viewing nesting seabirds.
Kinlochbervie and Oldshoremore
Large stocks of white fish used to be landed at Kinlochbervie, but in recent years the fishing has declined drastically and the large landing sheds often stand empty. Kinlochbervie is the stepping off point for Oldshoremore beach, featured in many postcards and calendars and also the remote Sandwood Bay. Accessible on foot only, with a round trip of 8 miles, this secluded beach has a special ethereal quality.
Cape Wrath boasts cliffs of 920 ft and is also the most northwesterly point on the British mainland. Access can be gained by foot from Sandwood Bay, although this is a long and difficult walk. Trips are also available by boat and 4-wheel drive vehicle. Most of this area is still used by the Ministry of Defence for military exercises during which access is denied. Check locally.
Well worth a visit, Durness has a craft village and 8th century church and some beautiful beaches. Smoo cave, a huge natural limestone cave can be walked into or visited by boat when tide conditions allow.
The road winds all the way along both shores of Loch Eriboll and then on to the Kyles of Tongue.
Dominated by Castle Varrich, a roofless tower house of unknown date, Tongue lies on the east shore of the Kyles of Tongue, a vast expanse of foreshore popular with wading birds and seals.
A small museum that tells the story of crofting life at the time of the Clearances. The churchyard contains the 8th century Farr Stone.
Not perhaps an obvious visitor destination but the nuclear power plant at Dounreay has an excellent visitor centre that tells the story of nuclear power.
A bustling town of the far north offering a variety of shops and ferries to take you onward to the Orkney islands.
The most northerly point of the British mainland, a haven for wildlife and with spectacular views across the Pentland Firth.
One of those places you might visit just to say you had been there, but don`t leave too hurriedly as just along the coast are Duncansby Stacks, well worth a visit for the vast numbers of seabirds that nest there each year and for the unusual rock formations that tower up from the sea.