The North Coast 500 (NC500) is a legendary road trip that winds its way through the stunning landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.
As you embark on this unforgettable journey, one destination that should absolutely not be missed is Assynt. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Scotland, Assynt is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of rugged beauty, ancient history, and outdoor adventures. Let's dive into why you should make a pit stop in Assynt and discover the remarkable sights it has to offer along the way.
1. Quinag Mountain: As you approach Assynt, the distinctive silhouette of Quinag Mountain comes into view. Its three distinctive peaks offer hikers a variety of trails to explore, each leading to breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding lochs, moors, and hills. Whether you're a seasoned mountaineer or simply looking for a pleasant walk, Quinag has something for everyone. 2. Ardvreck Castle: Immerse yourself in history at Ardvreck Castle, a picturesque ruin situated on the shores of Loch Assynt. This 16th-century fortress once played a key role in the tumultuous history of the Highlands. As you explore its ancient stone walls, you can almost hear the echoes of the past and envision the stories that this castle could tell.
3. Inverkirkaig Bay: A true haven for nature lovers, Inverkirkaig Bay boasts pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll along the coastline or a peaceful picnic by the sea. The tranquility of the bay is truly something to be savored, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 4. Stoer Lighthouse: Perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic, Stoer Lighthouse is a must-see landmark in Assynt. The rugged beauty of the surrounding landscape provides a striking contrast to the lighthouse's white walls. Capture the perfect photo, take in the fresh sea breeze, and marvel at the stunning sunsets that grace this coastline. 5. Suilven Mountain: Often referred to as the "sugar loaf" mountain due to its distinctive shape, Suilven is an iconic peak that has captivated artists, hikers, and adventurers for generations. While the hike to its summit requires a bit of effort, the views are well worth it. From the top, you'll feel like you're standing on the edge of the world, surrounded by the untouched wilderness of Assynt. 6. Achmelvich Beach: With its azure waters and golden sands, Achmelvich Beach offers a tropical-like oasis in the midst of the Scottish Highlands. If you're lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, you might even be tempted to dip your toes into the refreshing waters of the North Atlantic. It's a great spot for unwinding and soaking in the beauty of your surroundings. 7. Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve: For those with an interest in geology and the Earth's ancient history, Knockan Crag is a captivating stop. The interpretive trails here provide insights into the complex geological processes that shaped the landscape, and you can even see evidence of the Moine Thrust, a significant geological fault that played a pivotal role in shaping the region.
As you traverse the NC500, be sure to set aside time to explore the enchanting wonders of Assynt. From its majestic mountains to its serene beaches, this hidden corner of Scotland offers a diverse range of experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. So, embrace the sense of adventure, breathe in the crisp Highland air, and allow the magic of Assynt to sweep you off your feet on your epic NC500 journey.