See the Remote Northwest Highlands in Assynt, Scotland

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Blythe Storm / Shutterstock

If you’ve already bagged spots like Isle of Skye, Ben Nevis, and Glen Coe, it’s worth revisiting Scotland’s lonely 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. If you’re seeking a rustic, quiet getaway, Assynt is a perfect spot: It’s got enough mountains (the tallest there are called Munros), shinty games, and deliverable pies to last a long weekend.

Suilven in Assynt
Suilven in Assynt Paul A Carpenter / Shutterstock

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. As for trails, 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.

Lochinver is also a mere 40 minutes’ drive from the Old Man of Stoer, a 200-foot-tall sandstone slab jutting up from the coast. It’s a wildly popular climbing route, too—and the abundance of seabirds, falcons, and seals nearby should be a bonus for nature lovers. Just be careful if you’re going in winter, and don’t forget your ice axe. If you’re interested in bagging a Munro, Ben More Assynt is the closest, standing 3,274 feet tall just east of Loch Assynt.

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 venison, blackcurrant, salmon and, of course,

haggis to fans all over Britain. There’s a seafood spot in town and some cafés, too, but for a proper foodie experience, the Inver Lodge offers a fine selection of local delicacies, from hogget pie to lamb rump, and fresh seafood, including pickled seaweed salad, oysters, and mussels.

Drink

Lochinver isn’t a party town, per se, but any whiskey aficionados would do well to visit the Wayfarers’ Bar at the Culag Hotel. It’s a noteworthy spot for informed whiskey-tasting advice, as the well-curated selection spans from Speyside single malts to more peated versions from Islay and Orkney, with more bottles appearing in the summertime. Normally, the bar crowd comprises off-duty fishermen from France and Spain as well as local pier workers, though with Brexit in the air, that crowd might soon be reduced to just the pier workers.

The Scottish Highlands near Lochinver
The Scottish Highlands near Lochinver Alena Veasey / Shutterstock

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.

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