|Scottish Gaelic: Achadh Mhealbhaich|
Achmelvich shown within the Sutherland area
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Dialling code||01571 844|
|UK Parliament||Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross|
|Scottish Parliament||Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency in the Highlands and Islands electoral region|
Achmelvich lies 3 miles (4.8 km) north west of Lochinver, and 40 miles (64 km) north of Ullapool, in the north west of the Scotland, accessed by single track road which leads from the B869 coastal tourist route. Despite the difficult road, the area is popular with tourists.
Settlement and facilities
As a settlement, Achmelvich is spread over the surrounding hillsides, with the focal point being the yellow flag award-winning beach. There are two camping & caravan parks open for business, both have residential caravans to let, although only one has pitches for tents, camper vans and caravans. There is also a small laundrette, shop and a takeaway. These sites overlook the beach, with views out into the Minch as well as Port Altan Na Bradhan.
The main beach car park is separated from the beach by the machair and has recently been upgraded. The Youth Hostel, Tourist Information Hut and Public Toilets are all located by the main beach car park.
Water-skiing, windsurfing and coasteering are popular pursuits on the beach. The production of a beach management guide in 2004 led to dogs being banned from the beach during the peak tourist season and neither of the camping and caravan sites allow dogs.
The unique morphology of the area, means there are many nearby walks and climbs, including the famous Suilven, for those interested in hiking. The Inchnadamph National Nature Reserve, which is well within driving distance, has many caves and pot holes as well as being the access route to Conival and Ben More Assynt, the area's two Munros.
There are also plenty of fishing opportunities to be had both in the sea, with cod, haddock, whiting, pollack, saithe and mackerel being common catches, or in the local lochs (subject to permit of course) which are stocked with trout, salmon and Arctic char.
Assynt is renowned for having diverse wildlife and Achmelvich is no exceptions with cetaceans, seals, basking sharks, otters, pine martens, ospreys and White-tailed Eagles having been seen in the area.
Achmelvich is home to what is reputedly Europe's smallest castle, known locally as Hermit's Castle. The castle was built in the 1950s by an English architect(David Scott), who left the area shortly after completion, spending only a weekend in the castle he spent months building. The castle was vandalised in the 1970s, when the windows were smashed and the door removed, but it is not unknown for people to use the castle as a bothy.
The detail design of this structure may give a clue to its popular name, as the entrance aperture consists of a tall but very narrow slit barely a foot wide. In this regard the design may be said to approach the concept of an anchorite's (or hermit's) cell, a ceremonially bricked up enclosure whose sole access was only large enough to allow for the passage of food in and waste out.
Another feature of great interest is that the structure is perched quite high above, and close to the edge of, a small inlet of the sea, and the above mentioned aperture is on the seaward side. This results in the need to enter the Castle from below. Such a location also suggests a defensive aspect to the design. Combined with the quite strong resemblance to a pill-box or similar military structure, this leads one to speculate exactly what the Castle's architect designer had in his mind when building it.
- Ritchie, B. (1996) Making More of Assynt. Assynt Mountain Rescue
- Good Beach Guide (Retrieved 16 August 2006)
- Discover Assynt: Where to Stay (Retrieved 16 August 2006)
- Scottish Camping Guide: Shore Caravan Site (Retrieved 16 August 2006)
- Scottish Youth Hostel Association: Achmelvich Hostel (Retrieved 16 August 2006)
- Discover Assynt: Wildlife (Retrieved 16 August 2006
- Nothing to See Here: Hermit's Castle (Retrieved 16 August 2006)