As you head north west up the 37 miles of lonely single track road from Lairg towards Laxford Bridge on the coast, it is a surprise to find yourself in a hamlet that wouldn't look out of place in parts of southern England. Welcome to Achfary.
This strikingly pretty village, even in poor weather, is located at the head of Loch More. More noticeably, it also lies in the shadow of Ben Stack and views to the north are filled by the bulky mass of Arkle.
You can read more about the ascent of Ben Stack here. The usual starting point for the much more challenging climb of Arkle is at the same place: you'll have to wait to read about it here until we've done it for ourselves.
Achfary is part of the Reay Forest Estate owned by the Westminster family. The village was built to house families who work on the vast sporting estate that stretches from Laxford Bridge in the west to Kinloch in the east. Much of ithe village was built between 1853 and the 1870s.
A stone tablet on the side of the farm was erected by local people to the memory of the First Duke of Westminster who died in 1899. Its purpose was "to express their deep regard for his character... and for the courtesy and generosity exercised by him among them during his tenancy for about fifty years... He built lodges and dwellings, erected fences, made roads and paths... thus giving employment to tradesmen and labourers and adding to the comfort of many." This is how Achfary came about.
The village has a post office, open for an hour each day, and this forms part of a nice little collections of house and farm buildings. These include an old-style phone box painted in black and white, colours that would never have been recognised by the GPO in the days when they ran the UK's phone system.
There's even a primary school in Achfary, located in part of the Village Hall, which also serves as the centre of the local community. The area offers excellent fishing. Loch Stack has long been popular for fishing salmon, brown trout and sea trout, and catches in recent years have been the best for two decades.
For more information about Scotland's single track roads and how to drive them, visit our feature page on driving single track roads.
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