If you’ve already bagged spots like Isle of Skye, Ben Nevis and Glen Coe, it’s worth revisiting Scotland’s lonelier highlands in Assynt — a remote coastal parish in the Northwest Highlands some 80 miles north of Inverness, where you can have the hiking trails, lochs and lasses (although the latter are not exactly abundant in these sparsely populated parts) mostly to yourself.
Stay: Lochinver, a tiny fishing hamlet with a population of around 600 hearty souls, is the main population center in Assynt. Book a room at the Inver Lodge to stay among the tweed-sporting anglers who come to fish for monster salmon in the Inver and Kirkaig Rivers. Or stay at the grittier Culag Hotel, a historic building along the fishing docks that dates to 1873 and was once the Duke of Sutherland’s hunting lodge.
Eat: Fill up pre or post-hike at Lochinver Larder, a small shop on Lochinver’s main drag that ships pies stuffed with classic Scottish ingredients such as salmon, venison and, of course, haggis to fans all over Britain. And for a worthy splurge, book a table down the road at the Michelin-starred restaurant at The Albannach Hotel, where prix-fixe menus often feature local langoustines and oysters as well as chanterelles foraged in the hills of Assynt.
Drink: There’s not a lot of partying to be had in these parts, but the Wayfarers’ Bar at the Culag Hotel is a good spot for informed whiskey-tasting advice (the well-edited selection spans from Speyside single malts to more peated versions from Islay and Orkney) alongside a crowd of off-duty fisherman from France and Spain and local dockworkers. And for a cozier scene with live music, hit The Caberfeidh, to listen to locals play Highlands music on Thursday nights.
Do: Buy a fishing license from the post office in Lochinver to toss out a line for trout in your pick of over 300 lochs in Assynt. The self-catering Glencanisp Lodge is a traditional Victorian hunting lodge ideal for a guys’ weekend where you can arrange deer stalking expeditions to hunt for red deer stags. And hikers will want to bag Assynt’s prized peak, Suilven, which is only 2,389 feet high but much revered for its unusual helmet shape.