Ullapool & NW

We love to walk/hike and during a trip last yr to S. Ireland & S England had our best times in the Burren & Dartmoor. We have a week in Scotland and we're thinking of skipping the Cairngorms & doing NW Highlands instead. We're working on our Scotland itinerary and are thinking about 3 nights in Ullapool. I found 2 good walks (to Loch Achill and Bone Caves) that don't require heavy-duty hiking gear.

We'll do 1 1/2 days in Edinburgh, evening train to Inverness and spend a night, p/u car and meander up to Ullapool; spend a few night there and then spend a day sightseeing along the way to Oban; a bus/ferry to Mull & Iona for a day and then off for a week in northern Ireland (N.I., Donegal & Connemara).

Any thoughts about this?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

It's as good a place as any.

Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool Hill, and Loch Achall, are all pretty easy. Shenavall circuit is a beauty, but it's going to take five hours or so - - maybe twelve miles without too much gradient. Bone Caves I've never heard of. None require the Danners - - lightweight waterproofs and a jacket and cap is all I've ever taken for any of them. Stick a water bottle in your pocket.

You have one drawback. If you take the short route from Inverness to Ullapool, you're going to have to come back the same way headed along the Caledonian toward Oban. Going up the long way through Bonar Bridge and dropping into Ullapool from the north only adds an hour and tosses in some spectacular desolate scenery on the small roads.

Posted by Amanda
Kirkland, WA, US
8 posts

Ed - the Bonar Bridge route sounds just up our alley! We'll head out of Inverness early-ish and so have time to wander & explore along the way. Thanks for the walk suggestions. I've been using walkhighlands.co to look for hikes.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Bumped so Pam will spot it. She's the Ullapool walker.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4222 posts

I slipped and fell on the treacherous streets of NYC over the weekend and have spent the last few days applying ice to the beautiful black eye that has shifting colors ever since. But I'm back now.

I have done a number of hikes on the west coast and I do love the Ullapool area. As my walking group would always say, "West is Best!" There are some very easy walks in the hills above Ullapool as has mentioned. You can walk up to the top of Ullapool Hill for some gorgeous views. This is an easy walk. The website makes some additional suggestions. We did a "bog walk" near Stac Polly, but I can't find a reference to it.

Just up the road are the Inverewe Gardens. No hiking per se, but a nice place to visit.

South of Ullapool there are some nice walks near Loch Maree. Have you found the Walk Highlands website? Here's the link to the Ullapool area.

Inland a bit is Glen Affric if you want to try something in a glen. The first time I went we walked around the Loch. The north side is quite rocky, but it was a gorgeous hike in a beautiful glen.

We did this walk in Torridon and it was very nice. There's another walk right near there that I can't find right now, that took us a bit up into the hills. I'll have to consult with a friend if you are interested.

I have never done and Applecross walks as we were based near Inverness and my friend had decided that we would have to get up too doggone early to enjoy the hike and there plenty closer. But you might want to investigate the area. I did a car trip and it is gorgeous.

BTW how are you defining heavy-duty hiking gear? I would really recommend decent water proof boots. The paths can get very boggy. Also, I finally gave in and got rain pants. They are light weight and I am much happier walking in Scotland with them. Finally, do usually have a midgie hat-- basically, mosquito netting with a very fine mesh that can govern my hat. It has made some walks quite nice when they might have been unbearable otherwise. I also do have a backpack cover for my day pack. I am sure that you have a good waterproof jacket.

Pam

Posted by Abe
Rick Steves' Europe
334 posts

Since Rick doesn't cover these areas in his guidebook, we don't have any personal experience in Ullapool or the Bone Caves. That's not to say you shouldn't go but you'll want to find information about it in another guidebook. The rest of it sounds fine.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4222 posts

I've liked the Footprint Guides for many of my Scottish trips. They are quite comprehensive.

Pam

Posted by Amanda
Kirkland, WA, US
8 posts

Thanks for your input. We're tweaking our itinerary, but 90% likely it will include the NW coast. Now we're thinking of skipping Mull/Iona and doing Skye instead... So many choices!!! :-))

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4222 posts

Amanda, Skye and Mull are both wonderful. Skye is particularly good if you technical climbing. Don't get me wrong, there are other walks that are not technical, but the Black Cuillins are probably the most rigorous mountains in Britain. Both Islands are big. So, bear that in mind as you think about your travels. Play with Via Michelin as you plot your travels.

It's so hard to pick when you're traveling to Scotland. You may just have to accept that you will make a second trip. :)

Pam