Located between Wester Ross and the North Coast, the Coigach and Assynt reserves are beautiful wild areas worth exploring. Highlights include the Deep Freeze Mountains, Loch Assynt Scotland, the ruins of the Ardvreck Castle and the Drumbeg loop.
Below is my guide to plan your visit.
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Loch Assynt and the Coigach Assynt Reserve - Video
Let's start with a short video which will show you why you should take the time to drive around Loch Assynt.
PLANNING TIPS - Ardvreck Castle and Loch Assynt
Getting to Loch Assynt - Location
- Located near the North West Coast of Scotland between Ullapool and Durness
- Coigach- Assynt stretches South and North of Loch Assynt - North of Wester Ross
- The ruins of the Advreck Castle are located at the Eastern end of Loch Assynt
- A835 / A837 are the main roads going through the area
The GPS coordinates of all locations in this article as well as their identification on practical maps are available on the Travel Guide eBook: The Road Trip Guide Scotland
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Exploring the reserve
- There is not much on the shores of Loch Assynt. Most accommodations are in the small towns near the coast such as Lochinver
- The main road is A837 but the small road going to Drumbeg is considered one of the great road trips in Scotland
- A path can take you to Ardvreck Castle but be careful because those are ruins
- Some of the main stops of the North West Highlands Geopark are located in this area with the Deep Freeze Mountains, Knochan Crag, rocks and beaches. It is dedicated to protecting and showing off the geological turbulent past of the area
Need to rent a car in Scotland?
- Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (prefer a compact car for the single-lane roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Deep Freeze Mountains Scotland
As you leave Ullapool and turn inland on A835 you will cross a stretch of land with flat areas and bare mountains. Those are the Deep Freeze Mountains.
The ice sheet covered Scotland until 15000 years ago. When the climate warmed, it melted rapidly. The ice came back 2000 years later in the form of glaciers. This is what shaped those beautiful mountains.
One of the most famous summits is the one below: Stac Pollaidh. This peak is famous for its rocky crest with many pinnacles
Later as you arrive at Loch Asssynt, one of your first sights are the ruins of Ardvreck Castle which dates back to 1490. Today not much remains but the beauty of Loch Assynt is sufficient to justify a trip there. (learn more about its history here)
If you love castles, check out my list of the best Scottish Castles.
Loch Assynt Scotland
The real beauty is Loch Assynt. It is surrounded by the peaks of Canisp, Quinag and Beiin Uidhe.
It is just under 10km long and 1.5km at its widest. It is apparently a great place for fishing. There is a legend about a mermaid of Assynt. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
There are many walks to enjoy in the area. They are listed on the Walkhighlands website.
But just driving along the loch is beautiful:
The Drumbeg Loop
Most people drive straight to the Scottish North Coast via road A837 but if you want to go off the beaten road and like driving, take the loop that goes along the coast via the town of Drumbeg.
When I drove it, the weather was not great, but it was really something very different from the rest of Scotland.
The drive is mostly on a single lane road that turns a lot. But there are many passing places, so it was not a major issue.
The area is full of rocky hills and small lakes:
You sometimes drive closer to the beach and discover beautiful pristine beaches with intriguing colors:
And then back to rocky hills and lakes:
This is the view from the Drumbeg viewpoint:
Note that this whole area is wilder than most places you will visit in Scotland. Especially early morning, animals can cross the road. So, drive slowly and enjoy the show!
Want to see more of the best Scotland has to offer?
- Most beautiful landscapes in Scotland - read article
- Best things to do in Scotland - read article
- Best Scotland destinations - where to go? - read article
- Best Scottish Castles - read article
- Most beautiful lochs in Scotland - read article
- Most scenic drives in Scotland - read article
- The magnificent Isle of Skye - read my best-of guide
- The magnificent Wester Ross region - read article
- The Borders Abbeys including Melrose Abbey and the photogenic Jedburgh Abbey
And keep track of your own trip!
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Sherrie Allen says
Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures, wise advice and thoughts concerning traveling to this place. I think if I ever get to Scotland, I’ll never want to leave. I am 62 years old and my entire life I have not dreamed of Scotland. Perhaps one day.
Sherrie Allen says
sorry. I meant: my entire life I have never not dreamed of visiting Scotland.
Claire, the Travel Planning Geek says
Thanks Sherrie. I hope you get to see that wonderful place.
All the best,