The highlands of Scotland - defined generally as anything North of Inverness, all the way up to Durness & John 'o Groats - are wild, rugged, and stunning. It is home to a variety of wildlife - including Golden Eagles, Red Deer & Scottish Wildcats - and boasts some of the most dramatic Munros in the country (see "An Teallach" on my munros page).
In recent years, the Highlands have grown massively in popularity, thanks largely to the development of the North Coast 500 route. Due to over-crowding, tourists overnighting at roadside carparks, and the quantity of rubbish being left behind with complete disregard for Naure, it is now quite opposed by most locals in the Highlands.
Ullapool is a place very close to my heart. Over the five or so years I lived there, I made some really great friends, got to know some wonderful people, and met and married the Love of my life.
While the town may only have a population of less than 2000 over the course of the Winter, that almost doubles in the Summer with the influx of seasonal workers and holidaymakers. It's a major ferry departure point, with two sailings a day to the Isle of Lewis, and is also an active fishing port - not only for local fishermen, but also for Spanish & Portugeuse vessels.
I spent my five years here working at the Seaforth - at the time a large Family-run pub smack in the center of the town, just off the pier. We were constantly busy in the Summer (as were all the other 17 or so pubs in town), with regular music in the evenings - in it's heyday featuring bands such as Ash & Shed Seven.
In later years the focus turned to food, and the quantity / quality of artists dropeed off slightly, but we still pulled in the occasional class act, and Loopallu was always a hit!
The two Winters I stayed through could not have been more different though; Most days had just a couple of locals coming in for a beer after work. Good memories were sitting by the fireplace through the day, Friday evening disco's, and watching large trucks trying to make it up the Icy road into town - and often failing!
The Seaforth is no longer Family-run, with Harry having sold it several years ago now, and has (for me at least) lost quite a bit of it's charm. But that's just me, and I'm likely biased.
I've been up to Durness a few times now, and every time I'm blown away by the sheer beauty of the region. Whether driving up the West coast, with it's windy cliff-side routes, or cutting through the hills from the east, you're sure to be impressed by the rugged, sometimes martian landscape that you'll pass through.
The North-West highliands are host to some of the most spectacular sandy beaches in the UK, and the best part of it all is that they're almost always deserted! Achmelvich & Oldshoremore are just two that spring to mind - the last time we visited, there were less that 10 folk on the beach with us.
Durness itself is very small, and boasts a general store and a campsite. barely even a pub! That said, you don't travel all the way to the far North-West of the ocuntry to sit in a pub, now do you?
What you do want to do is visit Smoo Cave, spend time on one (or more) of the many beaches, and maybe climb Ben Hope, the UK's Northern-most Munro. You can read more about each of these in the Durness Attractions section below.
Ullapool & the Highlands Attractions
The Arch Pub
Smoo Cave, Durness
Ferry to Lewis
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