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Far North Scotland YHAs

(11 Posts)
roisin Wed 16-Sep-09 17:47:55

I can't find the old YHA threads, so thought I'd start a new one.

Has anyone stayed in the YHAs at Durness, Tongue or Achmelvich Beach? Comments about facilities, cleanliness and how busy/crowded/remote the local area is, would be much appreciated.


shonaspurtle Wed 16-Sep-09 17:50:05

No idea about the YH (so this is really just a bump - not terribly handy 30 seconds after the op..) but Achmelvich beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Powdery white sand and turquoise water. Remote but lovely.

shonaspurtle Wed 16-Sep-09 17:51:26

I've also hankered after staying at the YH at Gairloch which looked very nice the times I've driven past it (we've holidayed up there the last couple of years) and is also very near a fabulous beach.

throckenholt Wed 16-Sep-09 17:57:14

don't know about the youth hostels (apart from they exist) - but the beaches at all those places are beautiful and empty - Achmelvich is perhaps the busiest - it was almost crowded when we went there - but it was a sunny Sunday at witsun.

Are you planning on doing the circuit staying a few days at each ?

roisin Wed 16-Sep-09 18:05:36

Yes, I've seen photos of the beach and it does look amazing. But I read a review which said there's a campsite right by and it does get very crowded.

(We are definitely back of beyond people. This summer we spent quite a bit of time on remote beaches with not another soul on them!)

But I do love the idea of being "right on" the beach, rather than 10-15 mins walk away...

We have a gorgeous cottage booked on Orkney (South Ronaldsay) for a week, but beforehand want to do two lots of 2 nights; so we're just trying to decide which two to go for!

throckenholt Wed 16-Sep-09 18:20:21

Tongue YHA looks good - and is right on the beach. Achmelvich does get busy - both the campsite and the car park - it has a big one. It is beautiful - but then so are most of the beaches in the far north west.

Where are you travelling from ? How about 2 nights at Tongue and two nights on Orkney mainland before going on the South Ronaldsay ?

There is wild country near all of those you mention (much wilder than Orkney). At Durness there is a beautiful beach, plus another few fantastic ones nearby (Sango, Sango Beg, Balnakeil). At Tongue - Melness just over the Kyle is quiet and nice beaches too (we are contemplating going there again next summer - 3rd time in that area).

Another option would be Helmsdale - on the east coast on the way up to Thurso.

roisin Wed 16-Sep-09 18:25:45

Thanks for your comments throckenholt - that is really helpful.

We are travelling from SW Cumbria, but will be doing an overnight stop on the way up, probably around Stirling.

I've just looked at Gairloch and that looks gorgeous too.

On the way back we're going to stay at Carbisdale castle, because I've fancied staying there for ages!

throckenholt Wed 16-Sep-09 20:21:54

it is a long drive round the west and north coast until you get to about Dounreay. The roads are good but they are windy and take a long way round (especially Loch Eriboll). Don't underestimate how long it would take to get from one place to the next.

We went up to Orkney this summer and spent a day in the Cairngorms on the way up (it rained ! - pretty much the only rain we had in a fortnight).

If you are going to Carbisdale you could drive via Tongue and then down past Ben Hope and Ben Kilbrech - very lonely road that .

In which case I would maybe think of Helmsdale this time on the way up, and save the west and far north for other trips - to do them justice.

roisin Wed 16-Sep-09 20:58:54

Thanks. Travelling distances don't seem too bad.

My current thoughts are:
Mon: Cumbria -> Stirling [4hrs]
Tues: Stirling -> Durness [6hrs]
Thurs: Durness -> Tongue [1hr]
Sat: Tongue -> Thurso for ferry to Orkney [2 hrs]
Sat: Ferry then Thurso -> Carbisdale [2.5 hrs]
Mon: Caribsdale -> HOME [8.5 hrs] ... eek! We may have to plan a stop-off on the way home too.

Lilymaid Wed 16-Sep-09 21:35:50

DH stayed outside Durness YHA this summer (June) - didn't book in advance as his party weren'g sure about their itinerary. It was full of geology students (popular area for field trips) but the Assistant Warden allowed them to camp outside for one night - and let them take showers etc inside. Apparently this was all highly irregular, so booking is possibly a must.

throckenholt Thu 17-Sep-09 07:57:52

your timing sounds about right. Durness to Tongue might be a bit over an our - but it is a fantastic drive round the bottom of Lock Eriboll.

Do you know about the new ferry to Orkney ?
here - quicker and I think cheaper. We didn't know about it when we went in the summer - I think it only started this year - but we saw it while we were there - it goes up through Scapa Flow to St Margaret's Hope so would be the right area for you on South Ronaldsay (although it doesn't take that long to drive to Stromness either).

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