| Elphin (Gaelic: Ailbhinn) is a crofting township in Assynt, Sutherland, in north-west Scotland. With a population of about 70 (a significant percentage of whom are crofters) Elphin lies 15 miles north of Ullapool on the A835. The village has a tearoom, several bed and breakfasts and a nearby hostel and hotel. There is both an Art Studio and a Craft studio which open their doors throughout the summer. The local school, Assynt Primary, closed in 2001, however in 2010 the building has been leased to the Elphin Ledmore & Knockan Community Association with a view to becoming a Community Centre.
Knockan Crag is about half a mile (750 metres) south of Elphin and Loch Veyatie is about half a mile to the north-west. As you head north on the A835 these landmarks tell you that you are entering Scotland’s first Geopark – so called as it has been deservedly recognised as a region of special scientific interest and natural beauty. With stunning mountain landscapes, clean sandy beaches, ancient settlements, thriving communities this North West Highland Geopark offers one of the best opportunities to explore wild places in Europe.Whatever your interests and however you choose to travel, the Geopark has some fantastic activities and amenities on offer for everyone, all year round. Put together an itinerary that will please the whole family. Find a grocery store, a bookshop or a campsite close to a beautiful sandy beach. Discover more about the fascinating geology and natural heritage of NW Highlands Geopark at award-winning visitor centres and local museums.
North West Highlands Geopark is part of a global network of regions defined by their outstanding geological features, forward-thinking local communities and unique natural and cultural heritage. The visitor centre at Knockan Crag has an interactive display and informative walks. Visit the Knockan Crag website.
With its stunning and varied scenery, this area is a walker’s paradise. There is a collection of interesting and varied walks around lochs and hills, ranging in length from 3 to 30 miles. This area is unrivalled in the variety and scale it offers including delightful coastal routes as well as the famous ancient sandstone hills of Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and Ben More Coigach.
Three miles away on the cliffs at Reiff is some of the best rock climbing in Scotland. The cliffs are well known in climbing circles and many people come to this area for the challenge. The area offers an amazing array of steep sandstone sea cliffs, many of which are non-tidal. There are several different areas, with walk-ins ranging from 5 minutes to one hour.
There is a self catering cottage used by climbers & walkers in the north of Elphin village.
Two useful mountaineering sites which cover this area..
Trout & Salmon fishing
Elphin is a celebrated trout fishing location, surrounded by such famous lochs as Veyatie, Cam Loch, Urigill and Borralan. Loch Veyatie and Cam offer the opportunity to catch the elusive Ferrox and Artic Char whose population has survived intact since the last Ice Age. Some of the lochs, for example Cam Loch, Veyatie, Ailsh and Awe, are fished on the Assynt Angling Group permit. Further information (including handy maps) can be found at www.trout-salmon-fishing.com/scotland-elphin.htm. Elphin even has it’s own fly fishing instructor – see website at www.flyfishing-scotland.net. The same site also offers information on stalking, excursions and local salmon fishing.
Taigh nam Famh – The Elphin Caving Centre is a popular venue as there are many caves in the area. The Centre has self catering accommodation for up to 20 people at very reasonable rates. For more information see their website at www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/arb/gsg/ecc.html
The recent find of a Pleistocene bear skeleton in the Inchnadamph caves has revealed brown bears were still active in the region 23,600 years ago. This find of May 2009 is the earliest brown bear remains ever discovered in Scotland.
It was previously considered to be too cold for brown bears still to be in the area however now it appears they were trapped there by ice-covered mountains to their south.
Further information, including newsletters, can be found at Grampian Speleological Group. Photograph provided courtesy of Ivan Young.