The Brigs, Clashnessie, Near Lochinver, Sutherland
Relax - When we first visited Clashnessie50 years ago our neighbours kept telling us 'there's no need to hurry in the North of Scotland'. Whether it be playing with the children on the sandy beach or walking and fishing the local lochs The Brigs is just the place to unwind from the pressures of modern day living. We particularly enjoy the long daylight hours of May and June, when we can walk and fish until midnight.
History and Culture - Soak up the history and culture of the area, from the geology and wildlife of the Ice Ages to crofting, ceilidh, the Clearances, Gaelic, Highland Games, sea fishing etc. The Assynt Visitors Centre in Lochinver should be your first port of call for further information. The monthly publication Am Bratach, and the Assynt News cover the local community. See http://bit.ly/ClachtollGallery for progress on the excavation and reconstruction of the ancient Clachtol Brooch.
The Home Survey of 1774 tells us that Clashnessie was then farmed by William McLeod and Angus Ker. We bought our plot in 1990 from crofters Norman McLeod and Donald Kerr. Might they have been direct descendants? The Assynt Crofters Trust purchased the North Lochinver Estate in 1993 – the first crofters buy-out in Scotland, and the model for several similar initiatives in more recent times.
The Assynt Festival takes place in early October,
a celebration of the natural and cultural heritage of the area - geology, archaeology, history, wildlife, art, crafts, music, Gaelic language and literature.
Things to do will include guided walks, and archaeological dig, rafts and cart races, musical entertainments, a ceilidh and lots more -see www.assyntfestival.org.u
See also www.discoverassynt.co.uk/events
Walking - we are surrounded by some of the wildest countryside in the Highlands, so explore on foot - in whatever direction you care. Climb the Munros - Ben More Assynt and Conival; the Corbetts - Quinag, Cul Mor, Canisp, Cul Beag, Arkle and Foinaven; or the slightly lower Suilven and Stac Pollaidh. Each is a major undertaking in its own right. Allow sufficient time, prepare properly and do take map, compass and suitable clothing and equipment. OS map Landranger 15 - Loch Assynt, Lochinver and Kylesku at 1:50,000 covers the local area. Explorer 442 - Assynt & Lochinver provides coverage at 1:25,000. For further details on walking in Assynt go to www.walkhighlands.co.uk
Fishing – beyond the Waterfall is an extensive complex of lochs, starting some 20 minutes walk from the house. Assynt boasts over 200 inland waterways. Wild trout abound, not necessarily large, but feisty beasties, and 3 to the pound is the norm. We leave it to you to discover the best spots from where we have landed several over 1 lb, and a number over 3lbs in recent years. The open season for trout fishing is 15 March to 6 October. Fishing on the North Assynt Estate is controlled by the Assynt Crofters Trust. That to the East and the South by the Assynt Angling Group. Permits are available from Drumbeg Stores, and in Lochinver from newsagents, the two general stores, Chandlery and the Assynt Centre where you can also find out about river, salmon and sea fishing, boats, gillies and instruction. Well stocked wild and rainbow trout fishing from 2 to 6 lbs and much more is available three miles away at Lagg Fishery on the road to Drumbeg, where boat hire and instruction can also be arranged. Salmon fishing on the Inver and Kirkaig rivers is controlled by Inver Lodge Hotel. www.assynt.anglingresearch.org.uk provides some good detail on the area.
Sea Angling is available by arrangement with one or two of the local boatmen - enquire at the Assynt Centre. The Tarbet-Handa ferrymen take evening fishing, diving and whale/dolphin watching trips from Tarbet Pier - phone Roger on 07780 967800. These cruises can be great fun for all the family, and they will take you to the best fishing spots too.
Suilven, from the lookout on the Lochinver road
3 1/2 lbs from a local loch
Happy Becs! A fair day's catch Ben, aged 7 with Pollock off Handa A local loch
Bird watching – several times a day buzzards fly over Clashnessie. Black and Red Throated Divers swim on the hill lochs, Red Grouse rise from the heather and Ptarmigan on the higher peaks. Eider, Curlew, Avocet and Sand Pipers frequent the shoreline around Oldany and Drumbeg. For further information on the fauna and flora of the area see www.assyntwildlife.org.uk. A visit to the privately owned Seabird Sanctuary on Handa Island managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trustis thoroughly recommended.
Black Throated Diver Buzzard Red Throated Diver Black Grouse
Coastal walks – we enjoy those around Stoer Head – see the Old Man of Stoer sea stacks, whales, dolphins and a host of sea birds. You will need be very quiet and vigilant to spot the otters at Stoer Culkein. At Culkein Drumbeg – seals bask on the rocks and you may collect your own mussels at low tide – but look for those without barnacles and avoid the gritty bits! Tide tables for Lochinver are displayed at the Visitors Centre. Low Water at Clashnessie is half an hour later, and at the mussel beds it is one hour later than Lochinver. If the sea is below the rock on Clashnessie Beach, it will be low tide at at Culkein. The Highland Regional Council Countryside Rangers lead a variety of walks around some of the more interesting natural history locations. See www.outdoorhighlands.co.uk/calendar
Swimming, Snorkelling and Diving – Clashnessie is located within the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream – however we much prefer to swim and snorkel the inland lochs where the upper reaches can be significantly warmer! Good beaches at Clashnessie, Clachtol and Achmelvich. SCUBA is available locally – enquire at the Visitors Centre at The Mission in Lochinver. There is an indoor Swimming Pool at Ullapool, and Gymnasium/sports hall/Internet Cafe in Lochinver Leisure Centre.
Cycle hire from Marion Macleod (also craft shop and plant nursery), Polchaple, Culkein Drumbeg (01571 833245) or The Rose B&B in Lochinver (01571 844257)
Deer stalking – Stags in season late July/August to October, hinds until January – contact Assynt Crofters Trust (01571 833269)
Kayaking and sea trips – enquire at the Visitors Centre in Lochinver. You can launch your own boat at the slipways in Clachtoll and Culkein Drumbeg, or over the sand in Clashnessie Bay. Sea cruises out of Tarbet with Scourie Wildlife Cruises, Kylesku on the Berry Boat, Ullapool on the Summer Queen or Centaur, and Achiltibuie on the Isabella. For sea kayaking and other coastal adventure activities try NorWest Sea Kayaking or Ridgeway Adventure or http://www.highlandascent.co.uk for climbing, hill walking and kayaking.
Garden visits – the world famous Rhodedendron Gardens at Inverewe. The Victorian walled garden arboretum at Lech Melm near Ullapool. Achiltibuie (hydroponic) Garden
Sightseeing – the Assynt Centre in Lochinver will help – Fish smokery at Achiltibuie, Bone Caves near Ledmore Junction, geology centre at Knockan Crag, Highland Stoneware Factory outlets in Lochinver and Ullapool. Candle shop and tea rooms in Drumbeg. For a flavour of travelling around the North West Highlands, see https://vimeo.com/92762851?ref=fb-share. Clashnessie lies on the North Coast 500 - Scotlands's answer to Route 66. See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3185226/Scotland-s-answer-America-s-Route-66-named-six-coastal-road-trips-world.html
Dining Out – (We recommend telephone confirmation of table bookings and opening hours in most cases.)
Restaurants at Lochinver Larder (844356) and Pub food at Caberfeidh (01571 844321) and Culag Hotel (844270) in Lochinver, Inchnadamph Hotel at Assynt (822202). Non- residents may book a table at the Drumbeg Hotel (833236),
Fine Dining at the Michelin starred Albannach Hotel (844407), and the Albert Roux kitchen at the Inver Lodge Hotel (844496) both in Lochinver. Also Peet's Restaurant, Harbourside, Lochinver (844085) - a new venture, tell us what you think of it. Their Seafood Platter comes highly recommended!
Good sea food lunches at Achiltibuie, Kylesku Hotel (01971 502231) and Tarbet. (01971 502251)
For further inspiration see http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/mar/12/lochinver-food-reputation
Nearest shop is Drumbeg Stores 5 miles to the North East of Clashnessie – see their website at http://www.drumbegstores.co.uk An excellent delicatessen, rightly proud of their Best Village Store in Scotland Award for 2006. Contact them direct if you would like them to deliver a welcome pack.
In Lochinver, two small supermarkets, newsagents, post office, petrol, butcher, bank, ironmonger, adventure clothing and equipment supplies, Medical Centre and Visitors Centre at The Mission.
Nearest Tesco is at Ullapool. The main supermarkets and department stores serving the North West Highlands are in Inverness.
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