Beautiful, scenic, spectacular and dramatic are all words that have been used to describe Assynt, a parish situated in the North West corner of the Highlands of Scotland set amidst some of the wildest and most remote mountain and coastal scenery. A legacy of glaciation, much of the hinterland consists of rugged, distinctive and isolated mountains set amidst immense tracts of bare moorland and blanket bog, all strewn with lochs and lochans – where deer are more likely to be encountered than human beings. The coastline is deeply indented by numerous lochs or arms of the sea, producing stunning glimpses of savage beauty at every turn. Sparkling salmon rivers run to the sea where the rocky shore is interspersed with marvellous sandy beaches. Viewed from different vantage points, groups of mysterious and weirdly-shaped mountains peer above the skyline, presenting a panorama of ever changing shapes which may confuse the traveller on the move. Always vast, this landscape can in turn, seem intimidating or by a weather change, assume a mantle of breathtaking beauty.
There are spectacular scenic drives along the narrow roads hugging the coastline between Lochinver and Drumbeg to the North and through Inverkirkaig to Achiltibuie in the South passing by some of the wildest and most dramatic scenery in the UK.
These few roads serve a parish which is roughly 24 miles wide and 21 miles from north to south and covering 110,000 acres; a ratio of around 100 acres per person! The population of Assynt has recovered from a low point of only 600 in the late 1950’s, a fraction of the number living in over forty farms throughout Assynt in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before forced Clearances and voluntary emigration (both abroad and to the Lowlands) emptied the interior. Increasing numbers of people were forced to move and live along the coastline, where they sought a living from crofting and the fruits of the sea. The large, initially profitable, sheep farms which replaced township and farmstead were short lived and are now mostly only ruins. All that remain are patches of bracken showing where people dwelt for hundreds of years. In modern times fishing has been a major element in the local economy, but like elsewhere, has recently been in decline and overtaken in importance by tourism, as access to and awareness of the area has improved. One recent aspect of modern life in Assynt has been the groundbreaking achievements in community land ownership, conservation and restoration (of both historical and natural assets) as efforts are made to safeguard and live in harmony with our landscape.
All styles of accommodation are available in the parish – and anywhere makes a great base from which to explore the coast, hills and everything else this remarkable region has to offer.