There are different sides to Ullapool. On the one hand, this town in the northwest of Scotland is the region’s principal center of population. On the other hand, Ullapool only counts some 1,400 inhabitants. The contrast is a reflection of the nature of this corner of the world, where the same number of people that can be found on board a mid-sized cruise ship can constitute an entire society on land.
Despite the small size, Ullapool continues to be a living destination year-round – also during winter. Visitors might be fewer than they are during summer, but, to some at least, the remoteness of the area is a magnet that attracts visitors throughout the year. That, and the spectacular scenery, the mountains and hills, and the deep-blue sea.
Located on Loch Broom, Ullapool was founded as a fishing village in 1788. Fishing is still a main business here: visitors have ample opportunity to sample the produce of the sea.
It’s not only fishing boats that call here, though. The town is also a port of call for ferries to the Outer Hebrides, and for a number of boats that offer trips to islands in the waters just off Ullapool. Isle Martin (known for its pebble beach) and The Summer Isles are both popular destinations on such trips. The Summer Isles is also a popular area for various watersports, such as sea kayaking and diving.
The Ullapool region, with its mighty range of mountains, is also ideal for climbing and other outdoor activities such as walking and fishing.
But Ullapool is not all about the great outdoors. There is, of course, also another side to the town, which has built up a reputation as a centre for music and arts. Ullapool features not only its own book festival, but also a yearly music festival: Loopallu.
Ullapool has three cruise berths, suitable for smaller ships. Ships longer than 328 feet/100 meters drop anchor, passengers tendering to a purpose built landing pontoon. The town centre, with a selection of retail outlets and restaurants, is within easy walking distance. Tourist information is available pierside.
- Ullapool Museum tells the story about this town in Scotland’s northwest. It is housed in an old Parliamentary Church, constructed by Thomas Telford in 1829. A civil engineer and architect, Telford is also behind the construction of the town’s port.
- When in Ullapool, there are several opportunities to go for a walk. One alternative is to take a promenade along the Ullapool River. If you’re up for a more challenging ramble, walk up the Ullapool Hill. Several different routes are available. Once you reach the top, on a clear day, you will be able to see the waters of the North Minch and beyond.
- At Ullapool Golf Club, combine walking with a round of golf. Blending into the surrounding landscape, the course was opened by Prince Andrew in 1998.
- Tired from all the walking, you might want to check out the local seafood restaurants. There are several alternatives to choose from, including The Morefield Motel & Mariners Restaurant, The Seaforth Bar & Restaurant, and The Ferry Boat Inn.
- Ullapool is located within The Northwest Highlands Geopark, an area defined by its outstanding geological features and the unique natural and cultural heritage. It is a combination of 3,000 million years old Lewisian gneiss, a complicated geological legacy, and world-class scenery that has resulted in the area being proclaimed a Geopark. Learn more at the Knockan Crag visitor center. For a different perspective, visit The Summer Isles. A part of the Geopark, these islands are popular destinations for visitors. Tanera Mor is the only inhabited island in the archipelago.
- Leckmelm gardens and arboretum is located some 2.5 miles/4 kilometers east of Ullapool. This woodland garden was originally planted in 1870. Due to the Gulf Stream the climate is comparably mild here, making it possible for a number of exotic plants to grow.
- Another alternative for garden enthusiasts is Achiltibuie Garden, located some 23.7 miles/38 kilometres northwest of Ullapool. A specialty here is hydroponic growing (plants growing in sand, gravel or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil).
- Corrieshalloch Gorge, some 12.5 miles/20 kilometers south of Ullapool, was formed at the end of the last ice age. About 1 mile/1.5 kilometers long, it features a 150 feet/46 meter waterfall: the Falls of Measach.
A variety of shore excursions can be available in and around Ullapool. Examples include:
- On a walking tour of Ullapool, learn more about this Scottish destination, founded as a fishing village in 1788. A visit to the Ullapool Museum (see above, under Do Not Miss) can be included in the tour.
- Inverewe Gardens can be featured on some excursions. Located some 50 miles/80 kilometers southwest of Ullapool, the gardens benefit from the warm currents of the North Atlantic drift (part of the Gulf Stream).
- Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach (see above under Do Not Miss) are featured on some excursions.
- Other excursions with focus on nature and the great outdoors can include visits to The Northwest Highlands Geopark (see above under Do Not Miss).
- The Victorian Spa town of Strathpeffer is also a possibility on some excursions. Relatively close to the town is the Glen Ord Distillery as well as Castle Leod, which is believed to have evolved from a Pictish fort from before the 12th century and remodeled in the early 17th century. There are a couple of famous trees in the grounds, including the largest tree in the UK, a Wellingtonia, and a Spanish Chestnut that was planted in 1550 by Mary Queen of Scots’ mother (Mary of Guise), the earliest known planting date of any tree in Britain.
The distance to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, is about 210 miles/340 kilometers. London is 615 miles/990 kilometers away.
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