Kylesku Lodges In The Wild North-West
Clouds painted in tones of grey and blue linger overhead, hinting at wilder conditions to come. Snow capped mountains loom large in the distance and ahead of us lies the meandering road into the North-West Highlands. We pass through the scenic village of Ullapool and continue towards an area of Scotland which is regarded by many as one of Europe’s last great Wildernesses - Assynt. A hauntingly beautiful landscape where vast expanses of moorland are interwoven with rivers, streams and studded with a thousand Lochans. Rising from this moorland is a series of singular mountains - It’s a truly breathtaking landscape. Soon we reach our destination - Kylesku Lodges. A collection of rustic A frame cabins nestled into the hillside overlooking Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin, perfectly positioned in the shadow of a complex and magnificent mountain called the Quinag and stones throw away from the famous Kylesku Bridge - A popular stopping point on the North Coast 500.
We are warmly received by Mike and although we are making good conversation, myself and Daniel are struggling to focus as we are completely mesmerised by our surroundings. I begin to feel a great sense of jealousy towards Mike and his partner Cath who sold up their life in Edinburgh 3 and a half years ago to live and work in this incredible part of the Highlands and as the conversation progresses, it is abundantly clear just how driven and passionate they are about what they’re trying to achieve here in Kylesku. I love the lodges and I haven’t even stepped inside yet. A frame cabins are an architectural icon and a beloved holiday home of the past and they are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to Instagram - It’s easy to see why. Mike leads us to our home for the next 3 nights which is appropriately named “Twin Peaks” and I am instantly struck by the amount of natural light filling the lodge as we make our way inside. We rush towards the glass door to look out over the vast landscape towards the iconic Quinag and I quickly reach for the binoculars. Even though we can see the mountain from anywhere in the surrounding area, there’s a special feeling about being able to gaze at it from the comfort and warmth of the lodge.
As day turns to night, we explore what the lodge has to offer and begin to get excited at the prospect of spending our evenings in front of the wood burning stove reading. Naturally, I chose the master bedroom with kingsize bed, whilst Daniel finds comfort in the twin room. Both are fresh and airy, with beautiful textiles and colourful prints inspired by the textures and colours of Scottish landscapes and the connection between adventure and shelter. These add a welcoming hint of local character and impressively, are all designed by Cath at her local studio - Cove Design. We unpack and begin to plan the next two days of adventure and like many of the trips we embark on, we try to keep ourselves open to new possibilities and just as we are finally settling on a plan of action, Mike appears at the door and asks if we’d like to go out on his boat one day. Obviously, we jump at his offer to discover this incredible landscape from a new perspective. Day one is incredible. We climb Stac Pollaidh - One of Scotland’s finest “wee” mountains to watch the sunrise and spend the day scrambling along its rocky summits, exploring its hidden corners and basking in the glorious blue sky weather until the sun starts to set. We head back to the lodge with our hearts full.
Day two sees a huge change in weather, but still we drag ourselves from the comfort of the lodge to watch the sunrise over Kylesku. I encounter a large Stag on a small hill behind the bridge and it’s a wonderful moment as we lock eyes and I am able to capture a few shots of this wild beast. We make our way to the jetty to meet Mike at his boat and as we head out onto the loch, the weather is taking a turn for the worst. The water is choppy, the wind is blowing and the rain is starting to lash - It’s incredible. We race under the bridge past the lodges and soon we are treated to panoramic views of the surrounding hills. We turn back around and make our way along Loch Gleann Dubh to a remote mountain bothy where Mike drops us off to walk the loch side trail back to Kylesku. It’s a tough walk in challenging weather conditions, but we return to the comfort of the lodge with memories that will last a lifetime. We get the fire going, make ourselves a hot brew and watch the rain bounce off the glass doors. Todays adventure is the topic of conversation and both of us are struggling with the idea of leaving tomorrow. Once again, Assynt has blown us away, but the “Twin Peaks” lodge has been the icing on the cake - The perfect getaway in the heart of the wild North-West.
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