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The Far Northwest

From the prehistoric-looking inselberg mountains of Assynt to the wild sea cliffs of the North Coast, Northwest Sutherland has some of the last remaining wilderness in Europe. It also has staggeringly beautiful beaches and surprisingly gentle, sylvan corners too. This is an area that's hugely rewarding to explore on day trips from Alcaig.


Stac Pollaidh


If you want to easily experience the thrill of a Scottish mountain “Stac Polly” is the hill for you. Don't bother trying to get to the summit (it's an exposed scramble) just getting up onto the ridge is all you need do for sensational views and a sense of achievement. There's a good pitched path up onto the ridge and around the hill. It's about 3 miles in all with 1900 feet of climbing so well within the abilities of a reasonably fit person.

Stac Pollaidh

    Achnahaird Bay


This wide sandy beach is just a few miles beyond Stac Pollaidh and has stunning view back across the Coigach and Assynt mountains.

Achnahaird

The geology of the Northwest Highlands is unique and it can be learned about here at this unmanned visitor centre. There are interpretative displays and trails to follow. Highly recommended is the hour-long Crag Top Trail which has fantastic views over Assynt. Along the trails you can see the Moine Thrust – where much older rocks lie on top of younger ones.

Knockan Crag

Achmelvich

Stunning white sand and turquoise water beach. Walk north from the main beach by the car park for an even more secluded and attractive bay. It's particularly beautiful in early summer when the machair has flowers in abundance.

Mellon Udrigle

Old Man Of Stoer

It's a 4 mile round trip walk from the Stephenson-built Stoer lighthouse across the cliff tops to this sea stack which is 200ft (61m) tall. The walk is a great vantage point to spot cetaceans such as porpoises, minke whales even killer whales especially from July to September.


Stoer

Handa Island

Beyond Assynt and Kylesku Bridge, from a hamlet called Tarbet, you can visit this uninhabited island which has huge cliffs plunging into the Atlantic and nesting sea-bird colonies including Puffins and Arctic Skuas. Up to 100,000 sea birds nest here. Puffins are present from mid May to the end of July. Take warm clothing and good footwear as it's a 4 mile walk around the island. The round trip on the ferry costs 10. There's no facilities on the island so take your own food and drink.


Handa Island

Sandwood Bay

Claimed to be the most beautiful stretch of sand in the UK, this secluded mile-long beach is quiet for one very good reason: it's a 4 mile walk from the nearest road to reach it. It's all the more wonderful on a wild day when huge waves are crashing in.

Cape Wrath

Visiting Cape Wrath is an infinitely more satisfying way to get the experience of being at the end of the land than the more popular John O' Groats. Getting to the lighthouse isn't that easy though: first there's a ferry to take across the Kyle of Durness (adults 6 return; children 4) and then a minibus (adults 10; children 6) but the experience is definitely worthwhile. The lighthouse is perched on 400 foot (120m) cliffs and there are spectacular views of the wild Atlantic. There's also a cafe, The Ozone Cafe, which is probably the remotest in the UK.


Durness & Smoo Cave

Durness is a scattered community not far from Cape Wrath surrounded by pristine beaches such as Balnakeil and Sango Bay. John Lennon holidayed here as a child and last visited with Yoko in 1969. There's a moving memorial to him outside the village hall.


Smoo Caves are the largest sea-created caves in the UK and are set into limestone cliffs just east of Durness.

Smoo Cave



Tel: 01349 862031 Alcaig Cottages, Easter Lodge, Alcaig, Conon Bridge, Highland IV7 8HS Site by David Marsh