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The Highlands (Ullapool), Scotland

About Ullapool

On the pristine shores of Loch Broom, a sea lake fed by mountain rivers flowing down from the unspoiled Scottish Highlands, Ullapool enjoys one of the most remote settings in the United Kingdom. Though the town is tiny, it is the largest community for miles, surrounded by stunningly scenic islands, dramatic mountain peaks piercing the sky, and unspoiled wilderness. Some of the town’s most distinctive features are its New Zealand cabbage trees, often mistaken for palm trees. Ullapool’s beauty lies in its tranquility and many local Scots come here seeking a respite from city life, perhaps boarding a ferry from the local pier to the stunning Western Isles. Also known as the Outer Hebrides, these serene islands off the coast were once a Norse stronghold.

The earliest settlers arrived more than 8,000 years ago, although the town was officially founded in 1788 by the British Fisheries Society following the herring trade boom. Today most of the boats fish for Norway lobsters.

Ullapool Lifestyle and Culture

Owing to its remote nature, this part of the Highlands is a popular retreat for outdoorsmen and nature lovers. Unspoiled forests, mountains, waterfalls, and sandy beaches beckon golfers, cyclists, mountain bikers, hikers and hill climbers. It’s as much an escape for local city-dwellers as it is for adventure-seeking visitors to Scotland. Kilts, bagpipes and Scotch whisky are still stalwart symbols, making cameo appearances in various arenas of daily life.

For a leisurely stroll in Ullapool, take to its village streets to admire old whitewashed houses and buildings, some dating back hundreds of years. Or simply watch colorful, wooden boats gently bob in the harbor. Despite the town’s diminutive size and remoteness, local residents don’t play small when it comes to celebrations. Annual events include the Skiff Regatta, Loopaluu Music Festival and Ullapool Beer Festival, among others.

Ullapool Sights and Landmarks

The Ullapool Museum (formerly a Telford church) provides an in-depth look at the town’s geography and historic significance. Browsing its modest exhibits provides a great introduction to the former herring port. For a more artistic representation of the Scottish seaside haven, An Talla Solais is a community-run gallery featuring local artists using a variety of media.

The beauty of Ullapool is its simplicity and its seclusion. Visiting this intriguing corner of Scotland is about absorbing its tranquility and coastal atmosphere. Let your own curiosity guide you down narrow lanes and past tidy shops kissed by sea breezes, and you’re sure to strike up an enriching conversation as you explore.

Ullapool Entertainment and Activities

Ceilidh Place is the most popular spot in Ullapool. This inviting venue wears many hats for locals and visitors alike: it is a hotel, café, bar, bookshop and music venue. It started as a humble café with big aspirations to become the place to see and be seen. In the early days, signs hung outside inviting musicians to sing for their supper. Many obliged, thereby providing free entertainment.

The isle of Tanera Mor of the Summer Isles can be reached by a stunningly scenic drive from Ullapool. A leisurely stroll, a vigorous hike or a sea kayak outing reveals views of dramatic cliffs and seascapes. One of the most unique stops here is the post office, where the local postmaster issues its own stamps. Two are required for mail to leave: a Tanera Mor stamp to get it to the mainland and a Royal Mail stamp for its final destination. It’s a great spot for stamp collectors and seekers of unique souvenirs.

For a taste of the region’s Norse history, head to Lewis Island, the largest of the Outer Hebrides, where Gaelic language and traditions are still prevalent. In the capital of Stornoway, enjoy views of the mock-Tudor style Lews Castle. Built in the mid-1800s by a rich merchant, it was given back to the people of Lewis in 1923. No entry is permitted, but nature trails in the area lead you into the pristine wilderness. Less than 20 miles from Stornoway are the remarkable Callanish Standing Stones. Likened to Stonehenge, they were erected in the Neolithic period and used during the Bronze Age for rituals.

Another worthy stop is the Blackhouse at Arnol, a restored thatched house where people and animals once lived under the same roof. This was a common way of rural life 100 years ago, yet the Blackhouse is the only remaining relic of its kind. The parish of Ness lies 25 miles north of Stornoway; here, Gaelic is considered the mother tongue and Hebridean heritage is at its strongest.

Ullapool Restaurants and Shopping

With green hillsides and clear coastal waters, Scotland produces top-quality produce and seafood, and Ullapool is no exception. The national dish is haggis, a savory minced meat pudding that’s an acquired taste for some. The country is also well known for its baked goods (particularly oatcakes), Atlantic salmon, lobster and cheese.

The Blue Kazoo Seafood Café at the Ferry Boat Inn serves fresh, local seafood from Ullapool and the surrounding Highlands. Smoked salmon, diver scallops, oysters, mussels and more are on its menu. Enjoy views of Loch Broom while you feast. The bustling Arch Inn Restaurant is another option for fresh seafood. Enjoy beer-battered fish and chips and other favorites from land and sea. With a varied menu, it’s not hard to find something to suit your taste. And don’t forget Ceilidh Place, mentioned above, for coffee, scones, soups, salads and hearty dinners.

Ullapool is home to a number of arts and crafts shops. Try the Captain’s Cabin on Quay Street for pottery, soaps, toys, Scottish gifts and more. Lael Crafts, just outside of town, offers handcrafted jewelry, bags, woodworking and artwork all made from local materials.