The Northwest Highlands encompass the northern third of Scotland and may be our favorite part of the country. In part because it is so remote, but also because the landscape is stunningly diverse and beautiful. There is plenty to see and do here with its mountains, lochs, coastline and and beautiful beaches. Just driving around is a treat to the eyes. Read on to discover our must see places.
Our itinerary includes these 6 must see places to visit in the Northwest Highlands
1. Achmelvich Beach
Are you kidding with this view? Map yourself to the Achmelvich Beach car park and then walk one of several trails to different beaches. The beaches are also connected by trails through the hills. You can't see the beaches from the car park so prepared to be WOW'd when you arrive! The water is cold so you know you're not in the Caribbean, but you could be fooled by the clear blue and green water with white sandy beaches that you're in some warm tropical locale.
2. Drive around to explore and absorb the spectacular scenery
Explore the landscape and pull over at the numerous breathtaking vistas across the green landscape and lochs. The vistas at each turn are simply gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Note: you can't go anywhere in these parts without traveling down the one lane tracks. These roads are wide enough for one car but go both directions. No worries, there are clearly marked "passing places" where you can easily pass one another.
3. Descend from the north down to Altandhu
The views of the Summer Isles as you descend down to the town of Altandhu by car are spectacular. We pulled over at a passing place as we wound our way down the mountain just north of town and walked the very short trail marked with a "view" that was mind blowing. It was windy and still a bit cool in mid-June but well worth the view of the water and all the isles.
The road from Ullapool to Polglass passes numerous mountains and lochs where you can hike. You'll find convenient car parks like the one at Stac Pollaidh. The scenery on the drive is so picturesque that you'll find yourself saying "wow" more than you can count. We did an easy 45 minute walk at the bay in Polglass on the Achlochan Coastal Path (see photo above) to pass a 2000 year old ruined broch while taking in sea life like seals and otters and enjoying sunset views of the Summer Isles.
5. Highland Stoneware Pottery
Highland Stoneware Pottery. In case you like pottery, then this is a terrific storefront to visit that uses local minerals to enhance the colors in their pottery. It's not usually our thing, but surprisingly we ended up buying stoneware after noticing their plates being used at our hotel. You can find the store in Lochinver.
6. Applecross Pass
We were told by a local on Isle of Skye that Applecross Pass is a must-do while in Scotland, especially if you're on a motorcycle. So, as part of our Scotland itinerary, we left Isle of Skye and headed for the Northwest Highlands via the Applecross Pass. This is desolate country where nothing seems to grow and you can actually get above the clouds with an interesting view back across the water to Isle of Skye (see photo below). But then you descend back to the green pastoral land you've become accustomed to as you approach Applecross and once again you're WOW'd by its splendor. Applecross is a cute town at the water's edge that allows you to take a break.
Directions via Applecross Pass to the Northwest Highlands
Leaving Isle of Skye towards the quaint coastal town of Applecross, there are one lane tracks through a harrowing mountain climb that awaits you in the pass. Grab a bite to eat or take a break in Applecross. Then head north out of Applecross along the coast towards Kalnakill to continue the amazing pastoral views the lie ahead. It's about 2.5 hours from Applecross to Ullapool.
Where to stay in the Northwest Highlands
Summer Isles Hotel
There are plenty of places to stay in the city of Ullapool, so those wanting more of a city environment then this is a perfect place to setup base camp. Bubbly Tourist wanted a hotel along the coast with views of the Summer Isles. So, we drove another 45 minutes from Ullapool to Polglass to stay at the beautiful Summer Isles Hotel. This hotel has comfortable / cozy rooms with views of the water including the Summer Isles, it offers a delicious breakfast and dinner, and has two bars: one where you can grab a whisky from the front room of the hotel and a second bar which is connected via an inner hallway where you can mingle with the locals. Highly recommended!
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