/ best of NW scotland walking and tourism
I've been tasked with organising a 7 day trip to Scotland with the French in-laws. This will be in April. They are pretty fit and adventurous, so we're hoping to do some half and one day walks and scrambles, as well as some tourism and road tripping. I've got a preference for Skye and the NW and thinking along the lines of Edinburgh/Inverness > Mallaig > Skye > Torridon > Assynt.
What I'm looking for is recommendations for things that represent the best of Scotland, for example: hotels/b&bs/pubs/restaurants; walks/scrambles/mountains/activities; campsites; touristy things like castles, boat trips, cultural/heritage sites etc. I'd like to go to a nice pub with live music. MiL wants to stay in a castle.
Re. the walks, it would be nice to have some low level and shorter options as well, since undoubtably the weather will be mixed.
Likely we'll only have a couple of days in each area. And probably it will be a mixture of fairly modest accommodation with maybe a couple of more luxurious options.
I'm Scottish and have been to these areas (esp. Skye), but it's quite a few years back now and I'd like to see new things too. I'm really looking for outstanding personal recommendations if you really wanted to show the place off.
I went to a gig at the Ceilidh place in Ullapool, they're actually held over the road in a village hall type venue but it was fun.
Kinlochewe Hotel has a great bar.
Forest view bunkhouse also has a B and B on site, lovely tranquil place and the chap who owns it is very friendly.
Thanks! Ceilidh place looks great.
They also do cracking food.
From Ullapool, I would visit Sandwood Bay and the Foinaven area, go up to Durness and then along to the Kyle of Tongue. Ben Hope and Ben Loyal (one of my favourite hills) are relatively straightforward hills to do and very remote. I would visit the beaches at Farr, Strathy and Melvich, then head south down strath Halladale and then head west about half way along at Kinbrace towards Altnaharra and then south again towards Lairg and stop at the Crask Inn. You can then head back towards Inverness and visit the falls of shin on the way. You'll be on a lot of single track roads so plan for this.
Hotels, food, pubs etc. will all be a little bit hit and miss and B&B's might be a better bet but, in truth, its all part of the northern experience. There used to be good food out at Talamine on the north west side of the Kyle of Tongue in the Craggan and the pub at Melvich was always ok.
Thanks. This is great info. Have had a quick look at accommodation in the NW and unbelievably a lot is already booked. That’s the NC500 effect I suppose.
In terms of walks, there is so much choice. You will be lucky to get good conditions for scrambling in April (snow-free, dry, not too cold or windy), but it can happen.
On Skye, the "easy" Cuillins are Blaven, Banachdich and Bruach. Some of the Red Cuillin (e.g. the Broadford hills) are very good walking. The Storr is a good hill: see the Old Man and then leave the crowds behind to go to the summit. Beinn Tianavaig is a great wee hill off the main tourist trail. In less good weather, some of the coastal walks are good value: Rubha Huinish, Oronsay (check the tides!), Staffin (dinosaur footprints), Waterstein Head, Talisker Bay (escape the crowds by following the cliff tops to the south to Biod Ruadh).
For Torridon, Beinn Alligin would be my choice of the bigger hills. Coire Mhic Fhearchair is a fine spot to visit, even if you don't carry on to the tops of Beinn Eighe. Beinn Damh is a straightforward walk with good views. Sgurr a' Chaorachain is an easy walk from the Bealach nam Ba. The smaller hills all tend to be pretty rough and pathless, but An Groban via Flowerdale (near Gairloch) is very worthwhile. Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail is also worthwhile (can be extended to include Meall a' Ghuibhais). Nice beaches at Red Point, Gairloch, Firemore, Mellan Udrigle.
Around Ullapool, my choice of hills would include Ben Mor Coigach (do the full circuit from Culnacraig, Stac Polllaidh (final tricky scramble is optional), Cul Mor, Quinag. Point of Stoer is a good low-level walk. Beaches at Achnahaird, Achmelvich, Clachtoll, Oldshoremore, Sandwood Bay. The wee hill (Meall an Fheadain) above Polbain near Achiltibuie is one of the best view points in the country.
Sightseeing: Glenelg brochs, Talisker distillery, Corrieshalloch gorge, Inverewe gardens, Knockan geology trail, Bone Caves near Inchnadamh, boat trip to Handa Island, Smoo Cave.
Eating: Applecross Inn has a good reputation. Gorse Bush at Kinlochewe is new but looks worth a try. Badachro Inn does decent food (book ahead, it's quite small), Ceilidh Place (already mentioned), both chippies in Ullapool, Lochinver Pie Shop. Cafes: Deli Gasta (Broadford), Bealach (bottom of Bealach nam Ba road), Nanny's (Shieldaig), Steading (Gairloch), Cafe Margot (above the gear shop in Ullapool).
Thanks! This is awesome. If we get 2-3 of those walks done I’ll be happy.
Going over to Skye from Glen Elg on the little ferry would be good if it's running at that time of year and Glen Elg itself is lovely and it's got some fine Brochs. The Inn is also pretty good.
The Badachro Inn is not to be missed, the food has always been very good when I've been there and it's in a beautiful location. You could go for a walk up Baosbheinn before that, or at least up to the loch it sits above. Badachro is also a great place to see otters and herons.
If you're visiting Applecross there's a lovely beach right at the top NW corner which is hidden from the road at a place called Cuaig. Good place for a picnic on a nice day.
The walk from Alligin Shuas to Diabeg is really nice but a fair day out.
I'd give Durness a miss but The Old School House Restaurant on the road to Kinlochbervie used to be really good. You could combine it with a visit to Sandwood Bay but you'd need to book.
If you're in Lochinver there's a really nice circular walk up to GlenCanisp lodge then across to the River Inver and back down to the village. We watched a couple of otters playing in one of the pools last March.
You're very welcome - hope you have a great trip!
Nice one. Thanks!
As others have already shown there is so much to do you'll have to ruthlessly cull your options. The weather will make decisions for you as well. Durness (despite what Eric says) isn't that bad - Smoo Cave nearby has one of the largest entrances in the UK and is worth the short walk down to even if the inner show cave section is closed. If it was in Yorkshire it would be plastered with sport routes. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3577738
> Durness (despite what Eric says) isn't that bad
Yes, I was thinking in terms of facilities. I don't think much of it as a place to eat or drink but the cave is worth a look I suppose and the walk round the beach is nice as you say. Balnakeil is a good option for when it's pissing down.
If you go along the coast a bit to Bettyhill the beach there is really nice too.
On top of the great options already mentioned, if you need a low level option on Skye, I really like Boreraig and Suishnish. Gives some historical perspective on the clearances.
If you do the Quiraing, go up from Flodigarry, much quieter and nicer.
Arisaig beaches are worth a visit
If you can arrange transport, walking the whole length of the Trotternish ridge on Skyr is lovely. Really quiet for the majority of it, sometimes you can see eagles, and stunning views over to Torridon.
> Yes, I was thinking in terms of facilities. I don't think much of it as a place to eat or drink but the cave is worth a look I suppose and the walk round the beach is nice as you say. Balnakeil is a good option for when it's pissing down.
> If you go along the coast a bit to Bettyhill the beach there is really nice too.
Worth mentioning the golf course at Durness. I don't play the game but I did follow a couple of mates around that course once an it is very unique. Payment is based on an honour system and you might want to take a few extra balls
Thanks everyone. Will probably do 2-3 days in Skye then make our way up to Assynt.
If you're interested in wildlife a trip to Mull might appeal. I saw 7 eagles in a day once. Not sure of this in April, but the boat trip out to Fingal's Cave and the Treshnish (?) Islands - puffins - sticks in the memory. You are of course aware that in April walks up the big peaks are likely to be in the winter mountaineering category and require crampons and ice axe.
Mat Wright has climbed Serendipity (Font 8B+) at Impossible Roof near Roche Abbey. The problem was first climbed by Dan Varian as a sit start to Mike Adam's Serenity (8B). Mat climbed the stand back in February, which was his first 8B.