Puffin and sea pinks, North West Coast, Scotland

Birdwatching, wildlife, seasonal guides

If you’re keen on birdwatching and wildlife, the northwest Highlands are awesome in every season. Unmissable highlights include the magical Handa Island Wildlife Reserve, the Old Man of Stoer, Culag Woods and Culkein Bay. Golden eagles are regulars around Kylesku, along with otters, seals and deer. Or visit the whales and dolphins on a Kylesku boat adventure!


Kylesku Hotel Helen Lucas Architects 4 Y7 Z5172 Photograph by Angus Bremner
Go bird-watching, seal-spotting, fishing, or sit by a window in the bar and let the wildlife come to you.
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Birdwatching & birdlife


Handa Island Wildlife Reserve

Dramatic cliffs with spectacular seabird colony

Incredible bird city. If you’re even remotely interested in wildlife and bird life, it’s a must.
Tanja
  • Walk distance: 3 ½ miles on Handa island.
  • Distance to start point: 16 miles.
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • Handa Ferry doesn’t carry dogs.
  • No ferries on Sunday.
  • Larger groups book in advance.
  • Cover your head.
  • Cash only.
  • Check the Handa Ferry times

See also:


Culkein Bay

One of Assynt’s best birding locations

Sheltered bay, really good for spotting migrant birds. Amazing during the spring and winter passage.
Tanja


Culag Woods

Community woodland on shoreline

Breeding herons, great spotted woodpecker, wood warbler, tawny owls. A huge variety in a small woodland.
Tanja
Puffins at Faraidh Head
Razorbill with fish
 
One of my all-time favourite spectacles is when the eider ducks are just starting to pair. You’ll see them flying in front of the hotel, almost skimming the tops of the waves.
Tanja

Wildlife & sea life

Meet the local shoreline, sea loch and marine life


Kylesku Boat Tours

Enjoy a gentle cruise on Loch Glendhu

Seal colonies, sea birds, occasional golden eagles and deer in gorgeous scenery. Find out more about the history of the place and its people.
Tanja
  • Various.
  • Distance to start point: Right outside Kylesku Hotel.
  • Dog-friendly.
  • Kid-friendy.
  • See Kylesku Boat Tours
  • Phone: Kylesku Hotel 01971 502 231


North Coast Sea Tours

Northwest Scotland by sea

Wildlife and adventure tours with experienced guides. Half day trips exploring the Old Man of Stoer and Handa. An otherworldy experience as you enter the seabirds’ universe and have them flying and swimming just around you.

For serious adventurers and island-baggers, there are longer tours exploring up to Cape Wrath and some very remote islands.

  • Various.
  • Distance to start point: Right outside Kylesku Hotel.
  • Accredited tour operator.
  • Welcomes kids age 10 and up.
  • Check difficulty rating.
  • Wear waterproofs.
  • Toilet on board.
  • See North Coast Sea Tours


Culag Woods

Community woodland on shoreline

Ancient woodland with amazing lichens, boglands with dragonflies, frogs, toads, bats, butterflies. Lovely for families.

Tanja
Harbour seals from the water, Loch Gleann Dubh, Sutherland
Common seals spotted from the Rachael Clare, on Loch Glendhu with Kylesku Boat Tours (trips depart from opposite the Hotel).
Sea bird colonies, with North Coast Sea Tours, Scotland
Visit our local seabird cities with North Coast Sea Tours - the boat leaves from just opposite Kylesku Hotel.

Kylesku seasons

A perfect Scottish break in every season

Kylesku Hotel from Loch Gleann Dubh
Watch migrant birds make spring journeys.

Visit Kylesku in spring

Spring in Assynt is amazing, with everything springing back to life and the passage of migrant birds such as whooper swans and geese. The birds start their mating rituals to pair up, and you can hear wonderful birdsong.

A special highlight is the daily arrival and departure of dozens of eider ducks as they swoop in just above the waves. You can see this in the morning and evening from the hotel window.

We see a huge variety of orchids, primroses, bluebells, and yellow forests of gorse with their sweet coconut scent. In springtime, the days are rapidly increasing in length, although the skies are still dark enough to see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky.

Spring highlights

  • Passage of migrant birds.
  • Eider duck displays.
  • Wildflowers and gorse.
Razorbill and chick, sea bird colony, Sutherland
Razorbill with chick.

Visit Kylesku in summer

Summer in Assynt brings the long days of light, when the night never gets completely dark in Scotland. It’s the best time for exploring the beaches around Kylesku, and going for a dip in the azure blue loch and sea waters. It’s also fantastic for trout and sea fishing.

June/July is the best time to see the seabirds and chicks and visit the spectacular seabird colonies on nearby Handa Island.

The Scottish summer is glorious for the swathes of purple heather and green mosses all around the hills. Wildflowers in their full glory at this time of year include wild roses and cotton grass.

Summer highlights

  • Handa Island seabird cities and chicks (June/July).
  • Purple heather displays.
  • Beaches, swimming and fishing.
Stags roaring, Scottish Highlands, by François Bertin
Stags roar during the autumn rutting season, captured by François Bertin.

Visit Kylesku in autumn

Autumn in the Northwest Highlands is a spectacularly beautiful time of year – Tanja’s favourite!

For landscape photography, it’s a wonderful season as the colours start to turn copper, orange and yellow, and you often get clear skies and the chance of a little snow on the mountain tops.

Autumn is also the deer rutting season, and you can hear the roaring of the stags and the clash of antlers echoing round the glens.

The air is beautifully clear, and you get all weathers – sometimes four seasons in a day. It’s the best time to see dramatic rainbows and double rainbows.

Autumn highlights

  • Autumn colours.
  • Highland stag rutting.
  • Peace and quiet returns.
Loch Assynt in Winter
Loch Assynt.

Visit Kylesku in winter

Assynt and the Northwest Highlands in winter are extraordinary and elemental. It’s a wild and empty space, with few visitors around, so you often have the best beaches entirely to yourself.

The weather can also be wild in winter, though the days are often just as beautiful as at other times of year. It’s a lovely time for winter walks and cosy fires, and the best time for seeing the Northern Lights.

Winter is an amazing time for photography, too, as the light is great and the landscape and weather so dramatic. The wildlife is at your fingertips, as there are so few people about. It’s a great chance to see otters, seals and deer up close.

Winter highlights

  • Dramatic and elemental.
  • Walks and cosy fires.
  • Northern Lights.
  • Beaches all to yourself.

Get the most out of your time in Kylesku

Picnics & takeaways

We can supply you with a picnic, and takeaways are also available from the restaurant. Both are available to non-residents - get in touch to arrange.

Breakfast: open to non-residents

Not staying with us? You’re still welcome to join us for breakfast. Choose from our continental-style buffet or cooked breakfast menu. Breakfast is served from 8-10am every day.

if you're heading outdoors

Kylesku Hotel has a laundry service and drying facilities for residents. Useful for guests engaging in outdoor pursuits.

We love giving tips on the local area. Just ask, and we can look at maps with you.