We offer a range of luxury self catering holiday cottages in North West, which is famous for its spectacular views and a range of outdoor fun activities.
From the rugged charm of the sandstone mountain trails around An Teallach of Ullapool to the fishing trips of Lochinver and more, North West offers a fine selection of outdoor activities.
Here are some must dos that can be included in your itinerary when staying at Achiltibuie.
Get started with a trip to Achnahaird Beach, which is an essential stopover in any North West holiday. Rated as one of the best and unspoilt beaches in Scotland, this beach offers lovely views of Stac Pollaidh and most of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve and the mountains around. It is accessible by a single-track road two miles past Achiltibuie and is a great place for a relaxing holiday for families and adventure lovers alike. The Inverpolly Nature Reserve is home to a diverse wildlife including wild cats, pine martens and golden eagles among others.
The white sandy Achmelvich Beach is one of the most popular in North West tourist circuits. There is also another quieter beach just north of the main beach, which can be reached on foot easily.
The natural sandwood bay with its picturesque mile long beach dotted with dunes is another highlight of any west coast trip. Though remote with no road access, the bay can still be reached along a flat path that leads from Blairmore . The beach , which is part of the Sandwood Estate, run by the John Muir Trust, is easily one of the most unspoilt beaches in the whole of UK. Behind the bay is a fresh water loch that is quite popular among brown trout fishing enthusiasts. It is a great spot to spend a romantic day out too thanks to its isolated location.
Ardmair beach that is famous for its natural stone structures is another must visit spot. Further to the north west is the sandy expanse and dunes of Achnahaird on the Coigach peninsula and the best part is that the beaches in the North West are never crowded – even in summer. Some of the other beautiful sandy beaches in the area include Clachtol, Achmelvich, Oldshoremore, Mellon Udrigle, Balnakeil and Sango Ba
y among others.
The coastal drive to Kylesku and the remote crofting village of Drumbeg is worth trying. One of the most popular drives in this part of Scotland., it is definitely not for the faint hearted we bet! Do stop by your own private secluded beach of Scourie, which is famous for spotting a variety of sea birds. A wee village shop and the candle factory on the way back would neatly round off your day trip to this part of Scotland.
Stac Pollaidh is one of the best known mountains in Scotland and is famous for its sharp rocky ridges. The true summit at the west is considered as perhaps the most technically difficult to access on the British mainland due to its difficult and exposed scramble. The Laura Stewart circuit that winds around spectacular Stac Pollaidh offers great views over Assynt to the north and the Summer Isles and Achiltibuie to the south and west. The terrain is rough and rugged and you may require some scrambling expertise to reach the summit.
Suilven is a huge draw among walkers thanks to its remoteness and great views. There are a number of routes to reach suilven, all of which involves a walk of several hours. Suilven can be accessed from Glencanisp, Inverkirkaig or the longest route from Elphin. The steep climb however makes it unsuitable for beginners.
For many Qunag will always remain their favorite mountain in Assynt. The tops have all interesting ridge walks between them. Even if you are hard pressed for time to cover all the tops, make sure not to miss Sail Gharbh, the highest of the three Corbett summits of Quinag that offers spectacular views.
Hill walking in Ullapool is a good bet to enjoy the views over Loch Broom and Ullapool from the highest point in the outcrop of Meall Mor. Ullapool has many walking tracks that offer a range of walking options of varying difficulties that range from a gentle stroll to a steep hike up a challenging mountain track. Regular bus service is available to Ullapool from Inverness and other local villages. The rugged rock formations of Knockan Crag offer a challenging trail for climbers. The panoramic scenery around is the big plus.
If you are a game for a more challenging walk, ‘Postie’s Path’ would be a good choice. It involves a 6-mile scramble along the southern slopes of Ben More Coigach between Strath Kanaird (8 miles north of Ullapool) and Achininver. The signposted trail that winds its way through remote, sparsely populated, mountain villages is suitable for experienced climbers. Lael Forrest is a trekking path along a thickly wooded terrain with marked paths.
Ullapool also has many coastal walks which include the two-mile track from Blughasary, Glutton, the Rhue lighthouse or the ruined iron age fort of Dun Canna.
The walking enthusiasts would find the Cullag Woods at Lochinver a delightful option to explore the wilderness of the Scottish landscape in a fairly detailed manner. Do not miss out the viewpoint in the woods and the lovely Kylesku Bridge. After an engaging day out, for those who have worked up their appetite can stop by the ever popular Pie Shop at Lochinver, which serves pies with home-made fillings and pastry, for both vegetarian and non vegetarian palates.
No trip to North West can be complete without enjoying a Bone Caves Circuit walk to explore the dramatic bone caves in the limestone valley. You can stop on the way up to view the spectacular natural spectacles around. On a fine weather day, you can even spot herds of animals such as Red Deer in their natural habitat. Apart from the intriguing beauty of the caves, the thrill of the walk and the views would make it an extra ordinary experience.
Along the north side of the River Traligill lies the Traligill Caves, a maze of caverns in the valley floor where the river appears and disappears. Allow 2.5 hours. The thunderous roar of the underground streams at the arched opening of the cave of Uamh an Tartair is the highlight of this trekking trail.
The Reiff cliffs ,well known for its challenging circles offers is one of the best rock climbing options in Scotland. Only 20 minutes drive from Ullapool village, it offers a range of steep sandstone sea cliffs and walk ins that range from 5 minutes to one hour to cater to both the novices and the experienced climbers.
The 60 mtr high Torridonian sandstone, named Old Man of Stoer, in Sutherland offers another challenging climbing experience. This popular climbing route may not be suitable for inexperienced climbers as climbing it in windy conditions can be tricky .
Foinaven might not be as crowded or touristy as the Ben Hope but it is still a challenging mountain with a prominent summit ridge, barren frocks, dramatic northern corries and the exceptional white screes of Cambrian quartzite. There is a short route to the summit that begins at a parking area near a waterfall on the A838, 2.25 miles north of Rhiconich.
The path is rugged and challenging interspersed with grassy slopes that would take you to Ganu Mor, the highest point of Foinaven. Allow 5-6 hours for a round trip.
Nature Parks/ Gardens
The ancient pine wood forests and the rugged mountain peaks that form the home of the elusive horn bills and golden eagles make Beinn Eighe, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Beinn Eighe, the first National Nature Reserve in the UK enjoys a diverse landscape and wild life. There are walking trails for all seasons.
Inverewe Garden is one of the most important attractions in the North West of Scotland . Located in the north of Poolewe in Wester Ross, the garden was originally set up in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie. The Garden, which was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland by Osgood’s daughter Mairi Sawyer in 1952. has over 2,500 exotic plants.
Lael Forest Garden , 7 miles South of Ullapool beside the A835 road spreads across 17 acres of wooded land with a range of walking trails for the whole family to enjoy. The garden offers the best mountain scenery which include the peaks of Beinn Dearg and An Teallach. Open all year round. Free entry and parking
Another attraction in North West would be a boat trip to The Summer Isles and Eas a Chual Aluinn . It is the highest waterfall in GB with a sheer drop of 658 ft, which makes it over three times higher than Niagara Falls when in full flow! You can hike to the top of the falls from a parking area in the main road 3 miles south of Kylesku. Allow five hours.
The convoluted Loch Sionascaig, Loch Veyatie and Fionn Loch offer canoeing options in some the most remote terrains in Scotland. The paddling sessions along this challenging terrain would offer great views of mountain scenery . You can also try camping on deserted islands. Loch Sionascaig is also one of the best trout lochs in the northwest Scotland. Permits and tourist information can be obtained from the Inverpolly Estate Office .
Calum’s seal-watching cruises in Plockton are quite popular among tourists. Trips leave daily at 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm. Dolphin watching trips also available.
A ferry ride to Handa island is another must do activity in the North West. The staggering cliffs of Handa Island are home to huge colonies of breeding seabirds. Allow over 5 hours for the trip that will also include a walk around the island.
Enjoy a guided cruise of Seaprobe Atlantis in a glass-hulled boat that will take you around the kyle where you can spot seabirds and seals and even a WWII shipwreck. Informative commentary.
The Smoo Cave, east of the Durness village is a great spot to enjoy a boat trip. The river cascades through its roof into a flooded cavern, then flows out to sea. A boat trip will let you explore the interior of these caves which were thought to be inhabited about 6000 years ago.
Cocoa Mountain, the tiny gourmet chocolate shop that is the proud recipient of `Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Award` for food tourism in 2009 is quite popular among travelers and foodies alike. Do not miss out its truffle flavours and its specialty of hot chocolate served in the Cocoa Mountain Chocolate Bar. Cocoa Mountain enjoys a loyal clientèle and celebrity fanbase including well heeled Middle Eastern business tycoons and US Senators. The recipes of Cocoa mountain are mostly preservative free and made from locally sourced ingredients.
Sample the signature seafood dishes and true flavours of the Highlands including wild salmon and trout, Highland game, beef and lamb, with the accompaniments of seasonal vegetables. as you travel around Fort William & Lochaber. The Ullapool’s award winning bar, restaurant and takeaway Seaforth in Ullapool serves the best fish ‘n’ chips. You can also enjoy some superb local sea food cuisine at the award winning hotel Summer Isles Hotel in Achiltibuie.
Michelin-star restaurant, The Albannach. Mey Selections serve premium quality farm products, which are also available at most local hotels.
Arch Inn , famous for its appetizing pub food makes another worthy stop over. This shorefront establishment serves generous portions of stews, seafood, steaks and fish and chips. The outdoor tables facing the waterfront make the right spot to enjoy a drink.
Be one with the local populace of Ullapool in the ‘Tea store’, which is equally popular among the locals and the tourists alike. It serves fried breakfasts, filled rolls and homebakes among others. Do not miss its specialty of venison burgers. The hikers can avail of OS maps and walking information too over a cup of tea!
The woollen mill will be a good option to pick up some fashionable clothing (if you are into your knitwear :-)) at great value prices and ceramic pottery factory in Ullapool is worth a visit. I first came across Haglofs in the North West Outdoors shop in Ullapool, well worth a look in then nip upstairs to the cafe for scone, cream and jam!
Check out the Farmer’s markets to pick up farm fresh local produce and some local culinary tips. Inverness Farmers’ Market held on the first Saturday of each month is a must visit place for foodies to buy fresh dairy products, breads and cakes among others.
For those who wish to take home some farm fresh produce from North West, we suggest Lochinver Larder for pies and Greenlees butcher in Lochinver for supplies and Achiltibuie Stores for a wide range of local produce and fresh croft products.
Tucked away from the main thoroughfares, the Ullapool Woodturning Centre is easy to miss. However it is a great place to be in to know more on the traditional art of wood turning from Alec who set up the business in 1991. Both demonstration and sales are available.
Ullapool, the picturesque fishing village makes an ideal base to explore the Highlands. It has a range of restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. Some of the many outdoor leisure activities on offer include sea fishing, loch fishing and deer stalking among others. There are convenient car hire & cycle hire options to explore the village at your own pace. The ferry service to Stornoway and boat cruises are good options to spot dolphins and sea birds up close The crossing duration is about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Activities Within Ullapool:
- Leisure Centre: Loch Broom Leisure Centre / Swimming Pool
- 9 hole golf course: Ullapool Golf
- Boat Trips to The Summer Isles (The Summer Queen)
- The award winning Ullapool Museum
- Eating out
- The Ceilidh Place, West Argyle Street; the Seaforth, Quay Street, The Frigate Cafe, Shore Street and many more
- Highland Stoneware (Pottery)
- The Captain’s Cabin Craft and gift shop, Quay Street
- Crafts shops including West Coast Deli and Made in Ullapool (candle shop)).
Day Trip Suggestions:
- Hill-walking: within Lael Forest, with Corrieshalloch Gorge (Falls of Messach) approx 12 miles from Braes.
- Beaches: There are many beaches nearby including Ardmair Bay / Clachtoll Beach (5 miles from Lochinver) / Stoer Beach and Achmelvich Beach
- Fishing is another must do activity. Details are available at the Ullapool Tourist Information Centre.
- Inverewe Gardens
- Highland Stoneware : Where you can watch the potters at work on weekdays or scout for some traditional North West stone ware.
- Culag Heronry and Culag Community Woods (Lochinver)
- Summer Isles Cruises from Badentarbet, near Achiltibuie
- Camusnagaul (near Dundonnell)