Achfary

As you head north west up the 37 miles of lonely single track road from Lairg towards Laxford Bridge on the A838 just north of Kinloch and the welcome to Mackay Country the traveller encounters Achfary. Achfary lies on the A838 Lairg to Laxford Bridge Road, 30 miles west of Lairg, 14 miles east of Scourie and 14 miles south of Kinlochbervie.

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.”

 

There was a primary primary school in Achfary, and this along with the Village Hall, served as the centre of the local community. In June 2003 Achfary celebrated 50 years of Hall and school. This vibrant and interesting community has many stories and legends to tell. Achfary School closed in 2013

 

Taking the southeast route for 12km gives access to the southern approach route to the mountain of Arkle that dominates the panorama here and Achfary, a settlement that lies at the northern end of Loch More, 6 miles (10 km) southeast of Laxford Bridge.

 

 

From Achfary a track goes up through the village and follows Strath Stack, under the southern slopes of Ben Stack for about three and a half miles where it forks. To the right pass two lochs on the left loch Eileanacir and Loch na Seitge before crossing the western shoulder of Ben Stack and dropping to Loch Stack Lodge. The left fork turns southwest and passes two lochs on the right, Lochna h-Ath and Loch Eileanach before crossing rough and peaty moorland to Duartmore Bridge on the A894. This is about four and a half miles. Walking straight ahead from the fork for about five miles across an area dotted with lochans and can be very boggy leads to the road end leading to Tarbet on the A894.

Achfary is the personification of the highlands and any highland picture with monarchs of the glen and remote rivers with backdrops of vast straths and glens, deep black inland lochs among towering mountains looming with aura and mystery then the locality around Achfary supplies all this.

 

Strath Stack extends north westwards and to the west lies the Reay Forest.  The Reay Forest is the name given to the large deer forest of Sutherland that stretches from Foinaven to Ben Hope and from Loch More to Glen Golly. The Reay Forest Estate is about 120,000 acres and is remote and ruggedly beautiful. Fishing for salmon, sea trout and brown trout is available on Loch Stack and Loch More and for brown trout on the various hill lochs. There is splendid hill walking throughout the Estate although visitors’ co-operation is required in the stalking season, which commences at the beginning of August. Ben Stack, Ben Arkle and Foinaven all lie within the Estate.

 

Just south of Achfary there is a small shallow loch, Loch nan Ealachan lying under the shadow of Ben Screavie (about 1200 feet high.) and Lochmore Lodge a track heads south west for six miles to Kylestrome.

This strikingly village, is located at the head of Loch More noticeably, it also lies in the shadow of Ben Stack and views to the north are filled by the bulky mass of Arkle. 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 it was built between 1853 and the 1870s. The area offers a great deal of fishing to enjoy. Loch Stack has long been a popular fishing venue for salmon, brown trout and sea trout with catches in recent years being the best for two decades. 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, to fit in with the rest of the estates buildings and with special permission.