Half way between Scourie and Laxford Bridge on the main A894 is the small, easily overlooked, junction with an unnumbered road leading off to the north-west.
If you want to know how most of north-west Scotland used to be, before they built good roads with white lines down the middle, and if you have time on your hands, then this is a road worth taking. But we'd not recommend it in anything larger than a car.
What you find is a mile or so of narrow single track road leading to a junction. From here you can choose to progress either way around a four or five mile loop, also of narrow single track road. The landscape through which these roads pass is truly superb: a complex confusion of grey rock and grass, of lochans, mounds, short steep dips and rises, and unpredictable blind corners.
Distributed around this five mile loop of road are three tiny settlements. Moving anti-clockwise these are Foindle, Fanagmore, and Tarbet.
Foindle lies at the end of a short spur dropping steeply to an inlet from the loop of road. There seem little here for the visitor apart from the wonderful views north over Loch Laxford, but these have to be balanced with a decision on when to retreat from a road with limited turning opportunities and few if any passing places.
Fanagmore is a little less intimidating, offering some limited parking and turning opportunities and a small harbour and slipway. With its scenic delights, plus white house (but now sadly without the picturesque red phone box shown in the header image), there can be few more attractive spots in Scotland.
Of the three settlements, Tarbet is the most visited, and we would guess that most people turning off the main road come directly here without taking in the northern part of the loop. This is because Tarbet is the terminus for the ferry to Handa Island. As a result it also offers a reasonably sized car park and a cafe.
Handa Island was home to 65 people in 1841, complete with its own Queen (the oldest widow) and a daily parliament to allocate the work that needed doing. The potato famine in 1848 led to the migration of the islanders to Canada and it has been uninhabited since. Handa rises to a height of 400ft and measures about a mile by a mile and a half. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is run as a nature reserve by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Over 170 species of birds can be seen on Handa, including the 100,000 resident guillemots, along with 216 species of plants and 100 mosses.