Assynt in Sutherland, Scottish Highlands, Scotland.
Assynt is one of the most spectacular scenic areas in the north west of Scotland and tourism is now a very important aspect of the local economy. The local village and fishing port of Lochinver provides a central point to stay in this area and for exploring this fascinating area of Sutherland. One memory from a long time ago was that certain areas around Assynt and Lochinver looks so bare and barren that it could be on another planet. Yet this area is full of wildlife and you just may see a wildcat in its natural environment, or more likely pine marten, fox, stoat, otter, mountain hare, badgers, red deer, roe deer and seals.
Loch Assynt and Quinag from Inchnadamph Lodge
The area is dotted with hundreds of fresh water lochs and lochens with fishing in this area is available from a number of vendors and is managed by the Assynt Angling Group. At time of writing fishing permits for this area are £5 a day with other rates available for weekly or seasonal fishing permits. Boats on several lochs can also be booked on a daily basis.
If you plan to go hill walking in this area then you will need to be properly equipped with maps, compass and suitable clothing and outdoor gear. The weather can be changeable and even in summer months you need to be able to handle cold, wet weather. This is one of the most beautiful, truly wilderness areas in the Scottish Highlands and will make for a memorable holiday or short break, the longer you stay of course will allow you to take time to explore the surrounding areas including the coastal hamlets and that are found around the coastal areas.
Loch Assynt is the largest loch in this area of Sutherland and well worth spending time exploring and seeing the iconic Ardvreck Castle and the supposedly haunted ruins of the nearby Calda house.
Castle Ardvreck overlooking Loch Assynt in Sutherland. The ruins of Calda House is seen in the background.
Ardvreck castle is thought to have been constructed around 1590 by the Clan MacLeod family who owned Assynt and the surrounding area from the 13th century onwards. Clan MacKenzie attacked and captured Ardvreck Castle in 1672, and then took control of the Assynt lands. In 1726 they constructed a more modern manor house nearby, Calda House, which takes its name from the Calda burn beside which it stands. A fire destroyed the house under mysterious circumstances one night in 1737, both Calda House and Ardvreck Castle now stand as ruins.
Loch Assynt and Ardvreck Castle
The castle is said to be haunted by two ghosts, one a tall man dressed in grey who is supposed to be related to the betrayal of Montrose and may even be Montrose himself. The second ghost is that of a young girl. The story tells that the MacLeods procured the help of the Devil to build the castle and in return the daughter of one of the MacLeod chieftains was betrothed to him as payment. In despair of her situation, the girl threw herself from one of the towers and was killed.
Loch Assynt and Quinag
Maps on Assynt, Sutherland and Scotland
Old croft overlooking Ardvreck Castle and Loch Assynt.
Ardvreck Castle and Calda House
Calda house is supposed to be haunted. The legend says that the Mackenzie family organised a family gathering there one Saturday and that the celebrations continued past midnight into the Sabbath day. At some point a fire broke out, possibly caused by a lightning strike, and all the inhabitants perished as the house burned to the ground.
The causes of the fire are uncertain, but inhabitants of the Assynt area state that it was a manifestation of divine wrath as the family had been merry-making on the Lord's Sabbath day. Indeed, stories are told that there was a survivor of the fire, a piper who was spared the flames because he refused to play the pipes past the midnight hour.
Calda House (ruins of) overlooks Loch Assynt and is reputed to be haunted.
A number of ghost sightings have been recorded around the area of the Calda ruins, including that of a ghostly woman who haunts the site itself. Strange lights have also been seen there at night, and several people have claimed that they have seen car headlights approach them on the road there at night, but after waiting for the vehicle to pass, no car has appeared. History and ghost legends are from wikipedia.
Holidays in Scotland
Cottages at Lochinver looking over Loch Inver.
Websites on the area of Assynt
Assynt Field Club a comprehensive guide to the natural wildlife and flora around Lochinver and Assynt.
Assynt Angling Club for details on permits and fishing in Assynt.
Assynt Angling Info website on fishing in Sutherland and Assynt. A good website for ideas on where to fish.
The Assynt Foundation on community land ownership around Assynt.
Discover Assynt provides in-depth information of visiting the area of Assynt and Lochinver.