Lochinver is a small fishing village in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, with a population of 651 in 2011. It's about 30 miles north of Ullapool. Lochinver starkly illustrates the plight of Scotland's fishing industry: many foreign trawlers land their catch here, but hardly any Scottish boats still operate. The Scots had looked to Brexit to improve their situation, but it didn't.
Lochinver is the largest settlement on a coastal loop of road, also described on this page.
Get in edit
From the south, travel via Ullapool along A837, which is a good highway ending at Lochinver. It's also possible to wind through the side lanes from Achiltibuie.
From the north follow A894 via Kylesku to join A837 near Ardvreck Castle, or follow the coast via B869 - this is mostly single track with passing places. Large vehicles can get along it (farmers' trucks have no choice) but in summer it becomes congested, as the passing places can just about fit one car towing a caravan but not two or three together.
George Rapson Bus 809 runs twice M-Sa between Ullapool and Lochinver, taking an hour.
Durness Bus 804 runs May-Oct Tu Th from Kinlochbervie via Laxford Bridge and Kylesku, connecting with the 809.
Bikes may be carried between Durness, Lochinver and Lairg, but must be booked at least 24 hours in advance on +44 1971 511223.
Get around edit
You need your own wheels to explore this scattered area.
- 1 Bone Caves (Allt nan Uamh) are reached by a 40 min hike from the car park on A837. They're four karstic caverns in the mountainside where many animal bones were found, mostly 47,000 year-old reindeer but there was also lynx and bear. The caves have been used for human burial but weren't regularly occupied, so that's not the explanation for the bones; they probably washed in. The area is free to access 24 hours. The trail is a loop suitable for older children and dogs but you'll get filthy after rainfall. You can delve into the caves for a few yards only. Deeper within the mountain is the Uamh an Claonaite cave system, 2.868 km (1.782 miles) long, for experienced cavers only.
- Inchnadamph is the little settlement at the head of Loch Assynt. The Old Kirk, built in 1741, is disused. The Macleod burial vault is all that remains of its predecessor church of 1440.
- Calda House is a ruined mansion next to A837 half a mile south of Ardvreck castle, just a teetering shell. It didn't last long: built in 1726, it burned down in 1737. Its owners the Mackenzies were never able to restore it, as they backed Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 rebellion, and the Government made sure they were ruined as thoroughly as the mansion.
- 2 Ardvreck Castle, Inchnadamph IV27 4HN (11 miles east of Lochinver on A837). 24 hours. A ruined castle from about 1490 on a small peninsula on Loch Assynt, just a scenic stump. It's best known as the place where the Marquess of Montrose was handed over to his enemies in 1650. He was an outstanding military leader for King Charles I during the Civil Wars, so the Covenanters delighted in chopping him into bits, which then had separate adventures. In 1661 the restored Charles II had the bits reunited and reinterred with honour, glossing the way his own weaselling had caused Montrose's doom. The castle was abandoned in 1726 and its stone was re-used to build Calda House. Free.
- A waterfall cascades down the hillside just north of the castle. There are good viewpoints further north approaching the junction of A837 and A894.
- 3 Loch Assynt is the long freshwater lake flanking A837. It's six miles long, dog-legging at its west end into the River Assynt down to Lochinver.
- 4 Lochinver village straggles along A837. North of Culag Bridge has most accommodation and amenities, while south of the bridge is the grubby industrial harbour. Baddidarroch is a dead-end side road branching off at the north edge of the village: this shore gets more sunlight and has a cluster of self-catering cottages.
- 5 Hermit's Castle is a peculiar structure on the headland west of Achmelvich Bay. It's a Brutalist concrete building, something between a World War II shore gunnery point and a 1960s civic centre. It was built in the 1950s by an English architect then left unused for vandals to trash. Perhaps, inspired by its innovative style, he was kept busy replicating it in all the New Towns then springing up across Britain.
- 6 Clachtoll Broch is an Iron Age tower. It was built around 400 BC but burnt out in 50 AD - as were several other brochs in Scotland, so there was obviously some great strife then.
- 7 Stoer Lighthouse is a Stevenson lighthouse of 1870, automated in 1978. It's a stubby tower of only 45 ft (14 m), but its clifftop site means it can be seen for 24 miles. No tours; the lighthouse keepers' cottages have been converted to self-catering accommodation. You can drive here on a narrow but tarmacked lane, and use the car park for the hike to the Old Man.
- 8 Old Man of Stoer is a 60 m sea-stack, a popular climbing challenge. Reach it by a two-mile hike (about an hour each way) along the clifftops from the lighthouse. Walk Highlands has a route description.
- 9 Drumbeg is an attractive little settlement straggling along B869.
- North West Highlands Geopark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering Lochinver, Durness, Kinlochbervie and Kylesku. Some of the local rocks are over 3 billion years old, but the attraction is their contrast with the younger Torridonian sandstone.
- 1 Suilven is a distinctive 731-m (2398-ft) mountain, a sharp ridge that ranks as a "Marilyn". It's formed of Torridon sandstone: the highest peak Caisteal Liath ("Grey Castle") is at the northwest end. Meall Meadhonach 723 m is in the middle and Meall Beag is at the southeast end. It's six miles to the summit from Lochinver, the trail is described by Walk Highlands.
- Fishing: the area is best known for its fly-fishing (mid-Apr to mid-Oct) on the River Assynt. There's also innumerable freshwater lochans, and sea fishing from shore.
- Assynt Highland Games are held in August in Culag Park.
- Spar, 10 Main Street, Lochinver IV27 4JY (north end of village), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-6:30PM, Su 9AM-5:30PM. This is the main village store. It contains a Post Office and they also run the filling station opposite.
- Inverpark Stores, Inver Park, Lochinver IV27 4LN, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-7PM, Su 9AM-6PM. This is a small convenience store among the self-catering cottages along Baddidaroch Rd north side of the bay.
- Lochinver Larder, Main Street, Lochinver IV27 4JY (north end of village), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 9AM-4PM. Cafe serving nice pies and seafood. Order from the truck and eat in the beer garden, the restaurant is closed for rebuilding.
- Delilah's, Main Street, Lochinver IV27 4LX (mid-village), ☏ . Daily noon-3PM, 6-9PM. It just looks like a fast-food shack from the outside, but it's a slick restaurant with a good menu selection. Dog-friendly.
- Peet's, Culag Rd, Lochinver IV27 4LE (south by harbour), ☏ . M-F noon-2:30PM, 5:30-8:30PM; Su 5:30-8:30PM. Good seafood restaurant.
- Wayfarer's Bar is a drouthy trad pub by the harbour, open F Sa 5-10:30PM, Su 12:30-6PM.
- 1 Inver Lodge Hotel, Iolaire Rd, Lochinver IV27 4LU, ☏ . Fine views, but the building is ugly outside and dowdy within. Good food and service but way overpriced. B&B double from £270.
- 2 Tigh Na Sith, Lochinver IV27 4LD, ☏ . Great welcome and comfort at this small B&B, just 3 rooms, open May-Sep. Its name (pronounced Tie-na-She) means "House of Peace": no children or pets accepted. B&B double £140.
- 3 Cruachan Holiday Home, Cruachan, Badnaban, Lochinver IV27 4LR, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-catering accommodation in a comfortable 2-bedroom bungalow two miles southwest of the main village.
As of July 2022, Lochinver has a patchy mobile signal from EE and Three, but nothing from O2 or Vodafone. 5G has not reached this area.
Go next edit
- South the main road leads to Ullapool, for ferries to Stornoway on Lewis.
- Light vehicles can also go south on the lane to Achiltibuie and Polbain, for boat trips to the Summer Isles.
- North is Kylesku, Kinlochbervie and Durness on the far north coast.
- North Coast 500 is an itinerary that swings through Lochinver.