The small fishing port and resort of Lochinver on the west coast of Scotland offers the very best views back across to Suilven. Sitting on a sheltered bay north of Ullapool in the wilds of the far north west, the town splits into three parts: the harbour, the village, and Baddidarrach, along the shore of Loch Inver. The huge fish market is probably the town’s main focus. Other tourist attractions include Highland stoneware, one of the Highland’s most successful and distinctive potteries. Inland, near Elphin, visitors can pet animals at the Highland and Rare Breeds Farm. Experienced climbers can even attempt to scale the distinctive sandstone peak of Suilven.
Lochinver is the latest British site to be granted a prestigious “Dark Sky Award”. The skies in the Highlands are perfect for stargazing, as the degree of light pollution is minimal, and there are few obstructions to viewing the sky. Lochinver has been granted the highest class of award, being a place where the Milky Way can easily be seen with the naked eye. ‘The whole area is spectacular. Wild, rugged, west coast of the Scotland is known for its beauty. I lived there for years and used to go out at night and star gaze. Virtually no light pollution (1000 people in 50 square miles!), milky way is directly above you, and perfectly clear, the Northern Lights are breathtaking.’ The particular area nominated for stargazing is the Leitir Easaidh All Abilities Path, a site which is free to visit, as well as being level and firm to allow wheelchair users full access.
Well laid out, surfaced and graded, it gives easy access to two lochs and a viewpoint in wild country. Off the paths, deer-grass predominates over heather on the peaty ground and a copse of birch clothes the drier viewpoint hillock. Buzzards are common and when at the viewpoint turn your binoculars to the west wall of the Quinag, where you could see an eagle enjoying a thermal. At the two lochsides there are toilets and shelters; and for anglers a jetty and a boat adapted to allow disabled anglers to enjoy their sport (see Additional Information). There are beautiful views to Quinag and Suilven. Footwear is not a problem for walkers. Dogs are welcome. Refreshments, shops etc are in nearby Lochinver.
Chelynne Campion is a Production/ Sales Assistant for EarthSky. Her family just purchased a telescope, and she's now learning to be a stargazer!