Countryfile: Nina Wadia goes climbing in the Scottish Highlands
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Almost 6,000 Britons voted on their favourite areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and national scenic areas (NSA). The Isles of Scilly were Britons’ favourite AONB, while in Scotland, it wasn’t the most well-known destination that took the top spot.
Assynt-Coigach was Britons’ favourite scenic area in Scotland.
Made up of the Coigach and Assynt regions in North West Scotland, the area is wild and rugged and has few conventional ‘attractions’ or facilities.
The beautiful landscape of cliffs, sea stacks, mountains and moorland was given an overall score of 92 by Which? readers, with five stars for scenery and peace and quiet.
Popular with hikers, the area may not be the best known in Scotland but there are still plenty to see and do.
The best-known feature of the Assynt-Coigach NSA is the Stoer Peninsula.
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Both Stoer Lighthouse and Old Man of Stoer are popular attractions in the region.
The lighthouse now has two self-catering holiday flats, providing adventurous holidaymakers with a base from which to explore the region.
On Tripadvisor, Kelvinsiders said: “We enjoyed three wonderful nights in the exceptionally atmospheric surroundings of the lighthouse in Stoer.
“Clean, comfortable and incredibly cosy, the upper flat affords stunning views of the surrounding land- and seascapes. The rooms are generously proportioned and the kitchen is equipped with everything you could possibly want.
“The nearby beaches of Achmelvich and Clachtoll are jaw-dropping.
“A trip to the Old Man of Stoer is essential – we were lucky enough to see an eagle soaring above us as we reached the viewpoint. Highly recommended accommodation in beautiful wilderness.”
The lighthouse is also a popular attraction for people staying elsewhere, with Martina M saying: “Well worth visiting. The views are amazing and we got to see plenty of birds and sea life with binoculars.
“We were staying in Lochinver and just drove out on a day trip. Absolutely beautiful.”
Walking to get beautiful views over the Old Man of Stoer sea stack is also popular with visitors.
User MarcusKingPhotography said: “From memory it takes 40-90 mins depending on pace. 100 percent worth it though as the views are incredible.”
Other attractions in the region include the mountain Suilven and the Bone Caves of Assynt.
Anne D said: “The view from the caves are stunning! Well worth the walk. And it’s a beautiful walk too along a river and boulder field.”
The area is also home to the longest cave in Scotland, Uamh an Claonaite (Cave of the Sloping Rock), which is almost 1.8 miles long.
Eas a’ Chual Aluinn is the highest waterfall in Britain with a drop of 200m (656 ft).
To get to it, Britons will have to get a boat or hike six miles in difficult conditions.
Chris Taylor, regional leadership director at VisitScotland, said: “Scotland’s great outdoors have always been popular with UK visitors and with the pandemic changing attitudes towards travel, making staycations the focus for many, their popularity has only increased during this time.
“The Assynt and Coigach region is a magnificent part of the Highlands, with its stunning coastline and many hillwalking routes, and it is encouraging to see how highly rated the rest of Scotland’s natural scenic areas are by Which? members.
“Across the country we have a fantastic range of coasts, islands, mountains and countryside to explore and we would encourage visitors to get out and about and do so in a responsible manner.”
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