I don’t suppose that when the British Fisheries Society commissioned Thomas Telford to create a purpose-built fishing village on the shores of Loch Broom in 1788, that they envisaged a design which would appeal to tourists as well – but that’s what they got.
Having said that, I don’t suppose there were many tourists around in those days either, but as the fishing stocks declined, then the number of tourists increased, and when I first came here back in the early 1980s there were both plenty of tourists – and fish.
I can remember seeing the ‘Klondykers’ anchored in Loch Broom. Up to seventy Soviet and East European factory ships were regularly seen in the loch processing the fish, even though the UK and the Eastern Bloc were at each other’s throats politically. The Cold War prevented many people from both sides of the Iron Curtain travelling across the borders, but here in Ullapool there were many instances of ‘fraternising with the enemy’ including a football match between Russian fishermen and locals.
The factory ships have long gone and fishing is done on a much smaller scale now, but tourism still has an important part to play. A boat trip up Loch Broom will take you to the gorgeous Summer Isles, but if that isn’t far enough away for you, then you can also take the 3 hour ferry crossing to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
Whether it’s by sea or land – and no matter which way you go, the scenery all around is outstanding. The village only has a population of about fifteen hundred, but it’s the largest community for miles around which makes it an ideal base for touring Wester Ross and beyond.
Accommodation in the area is based on supply and demand – in other words – you don’t get what you pay for, but that applies to many places in Scotland.
Even so. If you’ve come this far it’s unlikely that you wouldn’t want to stop here. Not only is the village surrounded by some exceptional scenery, it’s a worthwhile place to visit in its own right, and if you intend travelling on even further north, then you’ll want to take a break somewhere – and Ullapool would be hard to beat if you’ve never been to this part of the world before.