Stac Pollaidh, a mountain nestled in the heart of Assynt, Scotland, is a must-visit for those who enjoy hiking. Standing at a height of 612 meters (2,008 feet), this striking mountain is located on the North Coast 500 road trip and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a popular choice for those seeking adventure in the Scottish Highlands.

Stac Pollaidh is one of the most rewarding hills you can climb in Scotland on a clear day, the views are truely magnificent.

In this post, we will delve into the wonders of Stac Pollaidh, covering everything from its location to the best time to hike this magnificent mountain.

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A Complete Guide to Hiking Stac Pollaidh

  • Where to stay near Stac Pollaidh
  • What is Stac Pollaidh?
  • Where is Stac Pollaidh?
  • How to get to Stac Pollaidh?
  • How long does it take to hike Stac Pollaidh?
  • When to hike Stac Pollaidh?
  • Why Should I visit Stac Pollaidh?
  • Safety in the mountains
  • Before you leave for the NC500

Where to Stay in near Stac Pollaidh

Being located in a remote area of the Scottish highlands, there is not a lot of accommodation nearby. However, if you are travelling by car, will have a few options a short drive away.

The Sleepy Crofter Glamping – Achiltibuie

Quinag – luxury villa with sea views in Achiltibuie

Ullapool Youth Hostel

Where to Stay on the North Coast 500

There is a wide range of accommodations around the NC500 route, so you will not be short on options. Depending on how long you are spending in each area will depend on how long you spend in that location. It is worth bearing in mind that some accommodations will require you to stay a minimum number of nights so it is worth researching this when you are planning your North Coast 500 itinerary.

Our new book North Coast 500 Where to Eat and Stay shares the best places to eat and stay around the NC500 and includes whether places are dog friendly, accessible, have wifi and EVC and whether they cater to dietary requirements. Paired with our Destination NC500 guidebook you will have the perfect combo to start planning your road trip of a lifetime.

The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations.

What is Stac Pollaidh?

Stac Pollaidh, pronounced “Stack Polly,” is a mountain located in the Assynt region of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. It is known for its rocky crest of Torridonian sandstone, featuring numerous pinnacles and steep gullies and on a clear day, it will be very clear to spot. Known for its unique, rugged terrain and stunning views, Stac Pollaidh is a favorite amongst hikers and photographers alike. The mountain’s ridge was exposed to weathering as a nunatak above the ice sheet during the last Ice Age, while the ice flow carved and scoured the smooth sides of the mountain. The distinctive pinnacles and ridges, formed by these ancient glaciers, make it a truly unforgettable sight.

 

 

Where is Stac Pollaidh?

Stac Pollaidh is situated in the Assynt region of the Scottish Highlands, on the banks of Loch Lurgainn. It is approximately 86 miles (138 km) northwest of Inverness and approximately 10.2 miles (16.4 km) away from Ullapool.

Stac Pollaidh is part of the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve, an area renowned for its shape as well as its dramatic landscape.

 

How to Get to Stac Pollaidh

To reach Stac Pollaidh from Inverness, follow the A835 and A837 roads, following signs for Ullapool and Lochinver. The journey takes approximately 2 hours by car.

If you are travelling from Ullapool, head north on the A835 towards Drumrunie and then head west at the signpost for Stac Pollaidh.

When you arrive, you will see the small Stac Pollaidh car park, which provides enough parking for around 10 cars and is located across a quiet road to the trail.

If you are visiting in the summer months, we would recommend bringing a midge net and midge spray for the start of the hike as the car park and the beginning section can see a lot of midges!

DON’T FORGET

Your trip to Scotland will be a lot more comfortable with a midge net and midge spray. These little biting bugs can be enough to ruin a trip if you don’t have the equipment to protect yourself from them. A repelling candle can also be helpful if you are sitting oustide.

Check out the prices of them here.

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?

Why not check out our downloadable NC500 Infographic for more details and insider tips for exploring Scotland.

This guide is an easy to read, 21-page infographic, with pictures detailing the route, the best stop-off points, where to shop, where to wild camp, and so much more!

How Long Does It Take to Hike Stac Pollaidh?

The hike up Stac Pollaidh can be completed in approximately 3-4 hours, depending on the chosen route and individual fitness levels. The well-maintained path leads hikers through a variety of terrain, including steep inclines and rocky sections, before reaching the summit.

The hike starts with a steep rocky climb right from the get-go but the steps are well-maintained and manageable to hike.

The walk initially starts through the trees where you may be faced with a lot of midges. It then opens up following a rocky path uphill winding around the mountain. If you are up there early before the crowds, you may see some deer out on the hills.

As you start to get closer to the summit and the path turns left, it will become a bit more scrambly as the rocks are uneven. Keep powering through though as once you reach the top, the 360 degree views are breathtaking and you will see views of the Assynt landscape and the nearby peaks of Cul Mor, Cul Beag, and Suilven.

This is one of the best hikes we have ever done in Scotland.  

When to Hike Stac Pollaidh

The best time to hike Stac Pollaidh largely depends on your personal preferences and the weather conditions you are most comfortable with. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect during different times of the year:

Spring (March to May): Spring is an excellent time to hike Stac Pollaidh, as the weather starts to warm up, and the days become longer. During this season, you can witness the vibrant colors of blooming wildflowers and enjoy milder temperatures. However, it’s crucial to be prepared for occasional rain showers and rapidly changing weather conditions.

Summer (June to August): Summer is the most popular time to hike Stac Pollaidh due to the warmest temperatures, longest daylight hours, and generally drier conditions. The mountain can be quite busy during this period, but the clear skies and stunning views make it worth the effort. Be prepared for the occasional rain shower and pack sun protection, as the sun can be intense during this time.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another great time to hike Stac Pollaidh, as the weather is still relatively mild, and the landscape is adorned with beautiful fall colors. The trails are generally less crowded during this period, but be prepared for cooler temperatures and more frequent rain showers as the season progresses.

Winter (December to February): Winter hiking on Stac Pollaidh is possible but requires extra preparation and experience, as the mountain can be covered in snow and ice. The days are shorter, and the weather is much colder, with a higher chance of snowfall and strong winds. If you decide to hike during this time, make sure you have proper winter gear, including crampons and an ice axe, and check the weather forecast and avalanche conditions before your hike.

In summary, the best time to hike Stac Pollaidh is during the spring and summer months when the weather is generally milder, and the days are longer.

However, the mountain can be climbed year-round, provided that you are well-prepared for the unpredictable Scottish weather and have the necessary experience and equipment for winter conditions.

Why Should I Visit Stac Pollaidh?

There are several reasons why you should visit Stac Pollaidh, these are a few of our favourites.

  • Unique and dramatic landscape: Stac Pollaidh’s jagged pinnacles and unusual form make it an incredible sight on the Assynt landscape. The mountain’s distinctive rocky ridge, formed by Torridonian sandstone and weathering during the last Ice Age, can be seen from many miles around.
  • Breathtaking views: The Stac Pollaidh hike offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Assynt to the north, the Summer Isles and Achiltibuie to the south and west, and the Isle of Skye to the east. These views make it one of the best hikes we have done in Scotland.
  • Accessibility: Stac Pollaidh is known as a great ‘half-day’ walk, making it a popular hike for people of various fitness levels. The well-maintained path and relatively short hike allow more people to enjoy the beauty of this mountain.

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Safety in the Mountains

When hiking Stac Pollaidh, it’s essential to prioritise safety and be prepared for the unpredictable weather conditions that can arise in the Scottish Highlands. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike:

  • Carry a map and compass: Navigating the mountain can be challenging, so it’s crucial to have a map and compass on hand to help guide your journey.
  • Check the weather forecast: Be prepared for sudden changes in weather by checking the forecast before your hike and dressing appropriately for the conditions.
  • Wear appropriate footwear: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support are essential for navigating the rugged terrain of Stac Pollaidh.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks: Stay hydrated and energised throughout your hike by packing sufficient water and high-energy snacks. There are no rivers to top up your water on this hike so make sure you bring enough.
  • Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know your intended route and expected return time, in case of emergency.

Before You Leave on the North Coast 500

Before you head off on your trip around the NC500, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.

How Do I Get Around?

Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time on the route, neither of these are very suitable.

As for public transport, the use around the NC500 is understandably difficult due to how remote each location is, however, with the increasing problem of congestion along the route, this is a good option to research if you have time. If it is something that interests you, you can read a public formed itinerary of how to get around the NC500 by public transport over here.

If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip along the NC500, we recommend hiring through Spaceships

Browse the full range of vehicles on offer at Spaceships over here.

Where to Stay on the NC500

There is a wide range of accommodations around the NC500 route, so you will not be short on options. Depending on how long you are spending in each area will depend on how long you spend in that location. It is worth bearing in mind that some accommodations will require you to stay a minimum number of nights so it is worth researching this when you are planning your North Coast 500 itinerary.

Our new book North Coast 500 Where to Eat and Stay shares the best places to eat and stay around the NC500 and includes whether places are dog friendly, accessible, have wifi and EVC ad whether they cater to dietry requirements.

The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations.

Depending on how adventurous you are, there may be more accommodation choices than just the above, often with an even better view. Caravan and camping sites are abundant along the NC500, drawing camping enthusiasts from all over the world. For some of the most spectacular bedside scenery along the North Coast 500, we recommend packing a tent and getting in touch with nature for the week.

As we travelled along the North Coast 500, camped in our trusty Vango tent on a mixture of campsites and wild sites. Wild camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the highlands, however, it must be done respectfully. Read our full guide to Wild Camping if you wish to give it a go so you know everything you need to for a comfortable and sustainable trip.

achmelvich beach

What Should I Pack?

When it comes to packing for a trip to Scotland there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 5-day Heart 200 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.

As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.

Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C

Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C

Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C

Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C

As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.

We would also recommend taking our NC500 guidebooks with you on your journey. This will help you plan your itinerary and ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the best places to go on the NC500. Our Destination NC500 guidebook is well paired with NC500 Where to Eat and Stay and you can buy the combo here.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

Photography Equipment

Main Photography CameraSony A7v Mirrorless Camera and  Sony A7iii Mirrorless Camera

MicrophoneShure VP83 Condenser Shotgun Microphone

Main Lens – Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8

Zoom Lens – Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8

Camera Tripod – ZOMEI Z669C Camera Tripod

Gorilla PodJOBY JB01507-BWW GorillaPod

Action Camera – GoPro Hero 9 Black and Insta 360 One RS

Drone Camera – DJI Mavic Pro 2

Camera BagWandrd PRVKE 41L and The Nest by Tropicfeel

Phone TripodManfrotto MKPIXICLAMP-BK, Mini Tripod with Universal Smartphone Clamp 

Sturdy Phone Tripod and Selfie StickATUMTEK 61″ Selfie Stick Tripod, Sturdy Phone Tripod Stand with Wireless Remote

Hard DrivesLaCie Rugged Mini, 5TB, 2.5″, Portable External Hard Drive

SSDSanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB Portable NVMe SSD

Travel AdapterWorldwide Travel Adapter Universal Travel Plug with 4 USB Ports+Universal AC Socket

What is the Best Travel Insurance for the North Coast 500

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, a guide to hiking Stac Pollaidh. If you have visited recently, let us know what you thought of the hike.

As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own North Coast 500 adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.

When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.

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