It’s a fair question, is Clachtoll Beach the best beach along the NC500 in Scotland? Well, for us, we think it might just be. Hear us out… Clachtoll is often overlooked by its more popular neighbour, Achmelvich Beach. And in fairness, Achmelvich is absolutely stunning. We highly rate it. Still, we can’t help but feel there’s just a little je ne sais quoi about this NC500 beach. The smaller and slightly less visited Clachtoll Beach features interesting rock formations, a historic broch and a dreamy campsite. All of this is alongside the outstanding (not to mention award-winning) white sands and turquoise waters of Clachtoll Beach.
So, will you visit?
In this guide, we’ll talk about Clachtoll in Scotland, where it is and how to get there. We’ll tell you a little about what to expect at the beach, before listing other incredible things to do in the area. Lastly, we’ll look at the best places to stay, especially the Clachtoll Beach Campsite, before finishing with a suggested gear list and some bonus tips.
To see footage of the wider NC500 road trip, feel free to watch our NC500 Hikes production.
For other epic beaches in Scotland and along the North Coast 500, read our post on Beaches Along the NC500. Otherwise, read our Complete Guide to Hikes Along the NC500 post, where we talk about 18 NC500 hikes.
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About Clachtoll Beach
Clachtoll Beach along Scotland’s NC500 is a remote, wild and simply perfect beach overlooking the Bay of Clachtoll. The small fishing settlement sits on the seafront, where a scattering of croft houses are perched perfectly overlooking the beach. The deep greens of the undulating grassy verges that wrap around Clachtoll Beach make the powdery white sand pop. And with the gently lapping waves of the turquoise waters, you’ve got yourself a small patch of paradise. All of this in Scotland, too!
Clachtoll Beach is a geologists dream. The rock formations here are outstanding. In particular, Split Rock stands out as a star attraction. Additionally, nearby is Clachtoll Broch, an iron-age roundhouse dating back to around 400–250 BC. The name, Clachtoll, derives from the Gaelic “clach” meaning rock and “toll” meaning hole. This likely refers to the interesting rocks around the beach, like Split Rock.
Inland from Clachtoll Beach is easily one of Scotland’s finest views. Looking over the silhouetted mountain outlines of some of Assynt’s breathtaking mountain peaks is a jaw-dropping sight. You’ll find plenty of excellent hikes in the area, including some beautiful Clachtoll coastal walks.
On top of all the incredible natural wonders of Clachtoll Beach in Scotland, you can also stay here. Because, of course, it will be hard to tear yourself away from such a beautiful place. So, step forward Clachtoll Beach Campsite. You’ll be hard-pushed to find a better location for getting some shut-eye along the NC500.
Where Is Clachtoll Beach?
Clachtoll Beach is found Assynt in the Sutherland region of the Scottish Highlands. It’s a simple stop along the NC500. Clachtoll Beach lies around 6.5 miles (10km) north of Lochinver and 40 miles (64km) north of Ullapool.
How to Get to Clachtoll Beach
The easiest way to get to Clachtoll Beach in Scotland, whether you’re staying at a campsite or just visiting for the day, is with your own set of wheels. Of course, if you’re driving the NC500 then this is easy. Clachtoll Beach is accessed via a single-track road just off the B869. As you approach the beach, you’ll pass through the Clachtoll Beach Campsite to access the car park. Parking is on the grass and is surprisingly roomy. You’ll find public toilets here for your convenience. The car park is also free.
Of course, if you don’t have access to your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
If you’re not driving, you can take the bus from Ullapool to Clachtoll Beach in Scotland. At a 1.5 hour journey time, it really isn’t a bad option. From the Ullapool Ferry Terminal bus stop, take bus #809 towards Drumbeg and alight at Beach Road End. From here, it’s a simple walk down to Clachtoll Beach.
This bus also passes through Lochinver. So, if you’re staying in Lochinver, you could easily just take the bus from there for a day trip, or half-day trip, even. The journey time to Clachtoll Beach is about 30 minutes.
A Complete Guide to Clachtoll Beach
If you’re wanting to experience some of the best beaches along the NC500, then Clachtoll Beach really ought to be on the list. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons Clachtoll Beach in Scotland is so wonderful.
Similar to its southern neighbour, Achmelvich Beach, Clachtoll Beach features some seriously impressive white sand. Teamed with the translucent turquoise waters of Clachtoll Bay, you have an excellent beach on your hands. Whether you choose to pop the towel down and read a book, have a swim (yes, you really can enjoy a swim here!) or enjoy some water sports and even snorkelling, you’ll be whiling away the time to your heart’s content. And, should you get bored of looking out to sea, then the views behind the rugged coastal mountains will keep you enthralled some more. Safe to say, Dan and I were seriously impressed by this perfect little beach.
Just like Achmelvich Bay, you might be lucky enough to spot dolphins and porpoises. In fact, there’s plenty of wildlife to enjoy around Clachtoll Beach, such is the beauty of it being remote and not built up. There are birds aplenty and if you’re super lucky, you might see Orca.
If you’re anything like us, you might start to get a little restless on the beach. And that’s okay, there’s plenty to explore. Heading north of the beach brings you to Clachtoll Broch, a fantastic example of Iron Age roundhouses found in Scotland. The highest parts of the remains stand around two metres high. That seems impressive until you learn the Clachtoll Broch likely stood some 10 metres high when originally built. The doorway and lintel still stand.
You can choose to walk to Clachtoll Broch from the beach as an out and back. This will take around an hour, with Clachtoll Broch being located around 1km north of the beach. Alternatively, you can make a longer circular walking route to Clachtoll Broch. This will bring you back to the beach via Stoer and then walking through Clachtoll Village, where you can always stop off for some delicious fish and chips. The distance of the circular walk is around 3km and takes around 1–1.5 hours to complete.
One of our favourite parts about Clachtoll Beach in Scotland was seeing Split Rock. This fascinating feature on the coastline was likely once a rock arch. It’s one of the most recognisable parts of this stretch of coastline, made up of Torridonion sandstone. Now, Split Rock stands as a stack in the bay. You should only try and access Split Rock in calm weather conditions as it can be dangerous to access when it’s wet and windy.
When Is the Best Time To Visit Clachtoll Beach?
You can visit Clachtoll Beach in Scotland all year round. But, if you’re looking to enjoy a swim, then you should look to visit Clachtoll Beach in the summer months. Typically June to August will be the warmest months for swimming, walking, snorkelling and general exploring.
Of course, the summer months also coincide with peak tourism. So, expect a busier beach. Dan and I visited Clachtoll Beach on our North Coast 500 road trip in August and didn’t find the beach too busy at all. Maybe we got lucky or maybe everyone was just at Achmelvich Beach. Late spring and early autumn would probably make for quieter times to visit, whilst still enjoying milder weather conditions.
It’s always good to know what weather to expect when visiting Scotland and touring the NC500. You can check the MET weather forecast for the Lochinver area here.
Other Attractions Near Clachtoll Beach, Scotland
- Waterfall chasing: there are plenty of stunning waterfalls along the NC500. Close by, you’ll find Clashnessie Waterfall, Eas a Chual Aluinn (Britain’s tallest waterfall) and Wailing Widow Falls.
- Stoer Lighthouse: north of Clachtoll Beach is Stoer Lighthouse and the Old Man of Stoer sea stack.
- Other quality Beaches: you should also check out Achmelvich, Sango Sands and Balnakeil Beaches along the NC500.
- Hiking: beginning from nearby Lochinver is one of the best hikes along the NC500. The full-day hike to Suilven is exceptional. Additionally, you’ll find the hikes of Quinag and The Bone Caves not too far away either.
- Kylesku Bridge: this is one of the most photographed bridges in the UK and you’ll likely pass over Kylesku as you journey the NC500.
Where to Stay Near Clachtoll Beach on the NC500
Clachtoll Beach offers a fair few campsites and accommodation options. Below, we’ll take a look at the best budget, mid-range and luxury options in the area, before jumping into looking at Clachtoll Beach Campsite.
- Budget – Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel: situated right on the beachfront and next to the car park at nearby Achmelvich Beach is the Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel. This is the best budget accommodation option in the area. There’s a buffet breakfast and the use of a shared kitchen for additional cooking. The location and facilities are hard to beat for the price.
- Mid-range – Cruachan Guest House: north of Clachtoll is Cruachan Guest House. The cosy B&B serves up locally sourced produce and is committed to reducing waste. The hosts are also wonderful!
- Mid-range – Hilltop: the Hilltop cottage is a traditional Clachtoll cottage overlooking the beach. Guests rave about the superb location, abundance of wildlife and home-from-home feel about the place.
- Luxury – NC500 Pods: you’ll struggle to find a better stay than the NC500 Pods right on the Achmelvich Beach front. The bijoux units come with fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. There is also the use of BBQ facilities and a terrace.
Clachtoll Beach Campsite
Clachtoll Beach Campsite is one of the best campsites along the NC500. As location goes, overlooking the bay and just a short walk from natural attractions like Split Rock and Clachtoll Broch, Clachtoll Beach Campsite is hard to beat.
Clachtoll Beach Campsite occupies a flat patch of grass that blends into the beach. It couldn’t be more perfect. This family-run campsite is a quiet and spacious place to stay. All types of camping accommodation are welcome and pitches are either serviced, with water and electricity, or unserviced, with no access to electricity but with water obtained from communal taps.
Clachtoll Beach Campsite also provides guests with free use of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards.
Another excellent campsite close to Clachtoll Beach is Shore Camping and Caravan Site at Achmelvich Beach. This is another stunningly situated campsite on the beachfront. Be warned though, Shore Campsite books out very quickly for the peak season, so you’ll have to get in quickly if you want to stay here.
Clachtoll Beach Wild Camping
Wild camping is permitted throughout Scotland. So, if you don’t mind roughing it in a tent with no facilities for the night or you have a camper to snuggle down in, then you can find your own little slice of Scottish heaven to spend the night. But, by all accounts, you can’t wild camp on Clachtoll Beach. The Clachtoll Beach Campsite occupies the beachfront and there are plenty of signs saying ‘no wild camping’. If you have any updates on wild camping at Clachtoll Beach, let us know in the comments section below.
Travel Insurance For the NC500
Whether you’re from the UK or further afield, travel insurance is a necessary evil, especially if taking on a road trip like the NC500.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future. Use the widget below to suss out a quote today.
Five Travel Essentials For Clachtoll Beach
These are our five travel essentials for visiting Clachtoll Beach, Scotland! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Scotland and the North Coast 500, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight and perfect for the coastal walk to Clachtoll Broch.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket, because you know, this is still Scotland afterall.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day trips, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm when the sun drops and you want to enjoy a sunset.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and sunscreen. A picnic at Clachtoll Beach in Scotland is also wonderful. Oh, and don’t forget towels and swimmers if you’re feeling brave.
- Sunsets: given its location on the west coast, sunsets over Scotland’s Clachtoll Beach are particularly wonderful. Part of the appeal of staying at Clachtoll Beach Campsite is to catch an epic sunset. Pack some warm gear and your camera equipment and enjoy the show.
- Clachtoll Bothy: along the walk to Clachtoll Broch you’ll pass a couple of bothies. One is the Clachtoll Salmon Station, which displays information on how the station would have operated back in the day. The other building nearby would have been the ice house, where the fish would have been stored once caught. Feel free to check them out.
- Stress-free NC500: if you want the planning taken out of your NC500 itinerary, then GetYourGuide offers some pretty spectacular tours around the Scottish Highlands.
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