THINGS TO DO…
We are utterly spoilt for beaches with each one having its own character. Here are the main ones...
An expansive beach with its white sands makes this a unmissable visit (pictured above).
This quiet flat beach is our favourite for many reasons, but we'll let you decide. Situated just beyond Oldshoremore, you can either walk over the headland or drive directly there.
SANDWOOD BAY Toilets in car park
Beyond Oldshoremore and Polin, a footpath takes you the four miles to Sandwood Bay. When you arrive, you will discover the isolation and beauty of this unspoilt sandy beach. Head north to Kinlochbervie and then head towards Sheigra and park at Blairmore. Make sure you take a picnic! There's a handy toilet block in car park before you walk out.
A small but beautiful sheltered bay near Lochinver which is normally hooching (def: busy). Great for paddleboarding or if you have a wee boat. We would also highly recommned you climb over the headland at the end of the beach where there is another much quiter beacher that is also stunning.
CLACHTOLL AND CLASHNESSIE
If you are driving the Drumbeg loop road from Kylesku to Lochinver you will discover these two glorious beaches - unmissable whatever the weather. If you're hungry en route there's Flossies (café) and Catch Toll (fish & chips) both at Clachtoll.
The nearest beach if you need a quick fix with a nice walk out to the point.
As you enter Durness, take a left down to the expansive Balnakeil beach with its sand dunes and wandering cows. If you stay on the main road you will come to Sango Bay which has fantastic rock formations jutting out of the beach. If you head 3 miles further along you will come another beach where the Golden Eagle Zip Line operate the most northerly zip line in Western Europe.
There are many other beautiful beaches including Ardmair, White Shore Beach in Culag Woods, Rhue, Achiltbuie and Sheigra.
The Discover Assynt website is a fantastic resource when planning things to see and do during your stay. You will find all sorts of information about castles, caves and walks, as well as general services available in the parish of Assynt. If you're keen to do some hills, then Walk Highlands is a brilliant source of information which you can print out in advance of your stay.
Mckenzie Mountaineering offer guided walks and Hamlet Mountaineering provide a range of activities including climbing and guided days out. Ben, Rosie and Tim are passionate about the outdoors and no matter what the weather assure you a great day out, kayaking, climbing, or discovering hidden gems of the area.
Here are a few of our highlights ...
Across the Kylesku Bridge is the Reay Estate where there are a number of excellent walks. Some guests like to walk from the lodges, but we would recommend you drive over to the car park as on your return you'll thank us! There is a fairly flat walk along the edge of the loch which is great for wildlife watching. Glendhu Bothy is at the end and the walk is approximately 4.5 miles in each direction. Alternatively, walk as far as the Hydro and take a left turn uphill. This circular route will take about 3.5 hours and will bring you back to the car park at the start. Fantastic views of the area. There is also a shorter walk (1 mile in total) which takes you down to the old jetty opposite the Kylesku Hotel, and is smooth underfoot.
The mountains awaiting you are calling (Sàil Gharbh and Sàil Ghorm). They can be tackled individually or you could even make a day of it and conquer all three in the range. A not to be missed opportunity as the views are outstanding. Take your binoculars and spot your lodge! Heading south from the lodge, the car park is about 5 miles, cross the road and follow the path in.
THE BONE CAVES, just south of Inchnadamph
An area of great botanical, geological and historical interest. Animal bones found in one of the limestone caves - including brown bear, reindeer and lynx - suggest the cave may have been home to man at the end of the last Ice Age - some 11,000 years ago! There is also an added incentive of Sovi's Coffee who brew exceptional coffee!
ALL ABILITIES WALK near Lochinver
A lovely quiet flat walk ideal those with limited mobility or little kiddies that like to scoot or bike. Turn left to Lochinver at the bottom of Loch Assynt junction and its about 5 miles along this road. Look out for the tiny green sign and car park on your right. There's also a composting toilet along the walk.
Just outside Lochinver, on the road to Inverkirkcaig, is our new favourite place. If you’re looking an atmospheric woodland walk, this full of lovely little paths (some hilly) and has a quirky play park, ideal for picnics and wandering. Make sure you go all the way to White Shore Beach as the pebbly beach is a one-off! Great for a wet day as its pretty sheltered.
WAILING WIDOW WATERFALL
A lovely hidden waterfall just 5 minutes up the road, back towards Ullapool. The 10 minute walk to the foot of the waterfall is well worth it, albeit there is a bit of a scramble along the narrow pathway by the stream.
OLD MAN OF STOER
An hour's walk from the car park near Stoer lighthouse, the Old Man of Stoer is a spectacular sea stack. The coast's sandstone geology has also led to the formation of caves, arches and cliffs - the latter teaming with seabirds. Go carefully - these cliffs can be dangerous.
A busy fishing port, Lochinver provides a full range of visitor facilities and services including boat cruises and bike hire. The local pottery - Highland Stoneware - is world famous. The Assynt Visitor Centre is now located in the Leisure Centre.
DURNESS & SMOO CAVE
A scattered crofting community backed by a series of beautiful beaches. Smoo Cave is a spectacular limestone cavern. A wooden walkway enables visitors to view the waterfall in the inner chamber - which can also be explored by a boat trip. Exhilarating! Don’t forget to visit Cocoa Mountain for your hot chocolate fix in the Craft Village on the left as you come in to Durness.
ACHILTIBUIE & INVERKIRKAIG
The Achiltibuie area is renowned for its unforgettable seascapes and some great coastal walks - especially from Reiff. From here a wonderful twisty road leads to Lochinver via Inverkirkaig - a crofting township overlooking a beautiful bay. A path beside the River Kirkaig leads to the Falls of Kirkaig and on to the foot of Suilven - Assynt's famous 'sugar-loaf' mountain.
Visit in spring and summer to see some of the 30+ bird species which breed here including razorbills, puffins and great and arctic skuas. The boat sails from Tarbet beginning at 9am, with the last return sailing at 5pm. Sailing everyday except Sunday. They don't take bookings so if you can get there by 9 you'll be able to make a day of it. Take plenty water and food and if you want to take advantage of the crystal clear waters, don't forget your swimmers. The trip is unfortunately not suitable for dogs. More info here.
KYLESKU – The Waterfall Tour
Visit some of the most stunning scenery up Loch Glencoul to see Eas a’Chual Aluinn – the highest waterfall in Britain, with an abundance of possible wildlife sightings and local seal colonies. More info here. Daily tours from April to September from the jetty in Kylesku, dog friendly.
With so much water comes so many opportunities to fish. If you just fancy bringing a rod and giving it a go, then there are plenty of little spots around the lodges where you can give it a go. For fly fishing then Stewart Yates has over 30 years experience. His details can be found here.
KAYAKING AND CANOEING
Kayak Summerisles provide Sea Kayak and Canoe adventures in the Summer Isles and North West. We've had so many guests say this has been one of their highlghts. Book early to avoid disappointment.The closest place to hire kayaks is Inverness at Graham Tiso although many guests bring their own inflatable ones.
There are many incredible spots to take a paddleboard to and you can now hire from Assynt Paddleboard Hire. Feel free to bring your own if you prefer and we can let you know some of the great places to go once you get here!
Fancy surfing on the edge of the world? The team at North Coast Watersports are the ones who are going to get you there!
SEASCAPE EXPEDITIONS Ullapool Harbour
To book call: 0751129008 or 01854 633708 (email@example.com)
SHEARWATER CRUISES (www.summerqueen.co.uk)
Trips to the Summer Isles from Ullapool (2hrs 15 mins approx) Check website for up to date sailing times and costs.
SUMMER ISLES SEA TOURS (www.summerisles-seatours.co.uk)
Running tours from Badentarbet Pier near Achiltbuie Tour times: 10am-12 noon, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 3pm-5pm but check website for up to date timings and costs. Call 07927920592 to book
Kylesku Village (10 minute walk) 01971 502231
If you like a stunning backdrop for a pre-dinner drink or a well deserved post-walk pint you only have to meander 10 minutes down past the lochan to the hotel. They have a new decked area and an indoor restaurant (click for menu) - booking essential.
SURF & TURF
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 10.30am - 4.30pm. Fantastic stop for fish & chips, tasty burgers, seafood specials and a cracking halloumi avocado ciabatta. They also do a great coffee!
Main Street, Lochinver
The combination of locally sourced produce and the team's passion for creativity makes for a menu of deliciously fresh Scottish food with a twist. The menu changes from day to day so you may find that one visit isn't enough. If there are four or less in your group then you can book online here. Or call 01571 844333 for larger groups.
THE DIPPING LUGGER
West Shore Street, Ullapool
Situated on the shore of Loch Broom, just along from the ferry terminal, this new restaurant offers something very special - a superb tasting menu that showcases the fantastic produce that surrounds Ullapool. Check out the images on their website and book early to avoid disappointment.
Inshegra, Kinlochbervie 01971 521383
Another delicious place for lunch or dinner is Old School at Inshegra, on the road to Oldshoremore, before Kinlochbervie. The food is so tasty and fresh that you’ll probably want to make another trip just to try something else on the menu. Make sure you leave room for their homemade ice-cream. Even if it’s just one scoop we think it’s the best in the area.
Main Street, Lochinver 01571 844356
Get your pie fix at the infamous pie shop which now has a Pie Shack, so you can enjoy your pies on the grassy banks of the river or take away to the beach or back to your lodge. Our favourites are Steak & Ale or Pork, Chorizo & Manchego but the choice is all yours! Pies are also available by post.
Harbourside, Lochinver 01571 844085
Harbourside Eatery in Lochinver - book before you come to avoid missing out!
THE SEAFOOD SHACK
West Argyle Street, Ullapool
This multi-awarding winning street food opens everyday in the high season. You may have to queue but it will be worth it just to get your hands on some of their super tasty modern interpretations of locally sourced seafood. Find out more here
OAK & GRAIN WOOD FIRED PIZZA
A wood fired pizza van specialising in authentic Neapolitan Pizza based in Ullapool. For opening hours click here
THE CEILIDH PLACE
West Argyle Street, Ullapool 01854 612103
Loved by locals and visitors, The Ceilidh Place offers atmosphere, music events, a wonderful bookstore and a wide and varied menu for all tastes (vegan & vegetarians will not be disappointed).
Argyle Street, Ullapool 01854 612995
Cult.Cafe.Ullapool is a new eatery offering the most scrumptious brunches, lunches and mouthwatering home baking. Excellent coffee.
OTHER PLACES TO EAT
Flossie's Beach Store, Clachtoll 01571 855222
The Jammery 251 Culkein, Stoer 07785228182
Secret Garden Tea Room (Assynt Aromas), Drumbeg - Closed on Friday and Saturday
Sovi's Coffee Bone Caves, Inchnadamph - best coffee!
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village, Durness 01971 511233
Shorehouse Seafood restaurant, Tarbet (overlooking Handa Island) Closed Sunday 01971 502251
Elphin Tearooms, Elphin - smashing homebaking
If you're looking to 'eat in' there are some really wonderful local businesss who would love it if you popped by -
West Coast Deli have a spectacular variety of cheeses, for the essential 'cheese and wine night in' as well as a fantastic range of ingredients to spice up your cooking (opp Cult Cafe in Ullapool). Well worth a browse.01854 613450
The Ullapool Smokehouse is located in the Industrial Estate, on the left as just as you drive into Ullapool from the North. Absolutely delicious hot smoked salmon and trout.
DM Seafoods have a shop in Ullapool and a van that stops in Scourie on a Wednesday around 12/1230. Fantastic range of seafood. 01854 612141
Don't miss out on a visit to the Highland Liquor shop on West Argyle Street either - they have a brilliant range of wines, beers, spirits as well as local gins and liquers.
Lochinver Spar Stores, 10 The Main St, Lochinver 01571 844207 (including Post Office all day) stock just about everything you could need - a mini supermarket.
Inver Park Stores, Inver Park, Lochinver 01571 844360
S Greenlees Butcher Main Street, Lochinver 01571 844392 closed Sundays
Drumbeg Stores, Drumbeg 01571 833235
Very good general store including deli, local crafts, books and fishing permits. They will also deliver orders in advance of your arrival to your lodge.
Parker’s Scourie Stores 01854 612448 open everyday from 0630 Post Office til 12 noon
Tesco, Latheron Lane, Ullapool Mon - Sat: 8am - 10pm, Sunday: 9am - 8pm
Unfortunately the supermarkets don't deliver up to the lodges, but guests often arrange a Click and Collect at either of the two large Tescos in Inverness, or stop off at the Tesco in Ullapool. We can also recommend Drumbeg stores who can deliver essentials and local produce to your lodge pre-arrival.