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Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom is the largest settlement in Wester Ross surrounded by mountains



It has been the ferry port for Stornoway since 1970


Until the late C18th, it was a depopulated area of isolated crofts with little infrastructure and dependent on the sea for transport. The aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, poverty and clearances for sheep encouraged immigration. In 1777, an old Dutch vessel named the Hector picked up nearly 200 passengers to start a new life in North America.

The area had been fished by men from the Clyde since the mid C16th There are stories that the herring were so abundant in Loch Broom that the people were using them for manure. However there was little tradition of local fishing .

Ullapool as a settlement didn’t exist until 1788 when the British Fisheries Society commissioned Thomas Telford to design a village and port for the developing herring fishing industry, as part of a plan for the development of The Highlands.


Development of the fishing would bring people to the area, encouraged by housing and plots to grow food to supplement fishing. It would help reduce emigration as well as reducing the power of clan chiefs. The plans included curing and net mending sheds, a smoking house, tradesmen’s shops, a salt and cask store and ten houses for skilled settlers.

A main road from Dingwall arrived in 1792. Plans for a railway link from Garve were proposed in the 1890s but abandoned due to insufficient funds.

Fishing was from small local boats and by the 1830s, local fishing declined as larger boats appeared. By 1900 the enterprise was deemed a failure, although there was a revival in fishing during the Second World War when fishing on the east coast became too hazardous because of the mining of those coastal waters.

After the war, catching techniques were vastly improved due to modern technology and the ever-increasing size of the fishing boats. In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s Ullapool became the base for Russian and East European "Klondykers" who arrived from August to January every year. These were factory ships processing mackerel caught by smaller fishing boats, for export around the world.

The numbers of mackerel decreased and the Klondykers left.

Today the local fishing fleet consists of a few small boats that fish throughout the year, returning to port each evening to land their catch live. The bulk of the catch is langoustine which is taken by refrigerated lorries to processors in the area before ending up in Europe. There is some fishing for white fish as well as lobsters and scallops.

The village still retains the grid street layout with wide streets lined with well built stone houses.



Argyll and West Argyll Street are lined with large houses. The Information Centre is here.


The building which now houses the Highland Wildlife Hospital Trust is set back from the road in its own grounds.


The church on West Argyll Street was built in 1828 and is one of thirty across the Highlands designed by Telford and funded from Government money. It closed in 1929 and is now the Museum covering the social and economic history of the area.


Part of the West Argyll Street was redeveloped during the Klondyke years and is now the main shopping area. This is now mainly shops aimed at the tourist since Costcutter and the butchers have shut. There is a small Tesco and the garage sells local meat.


The Ullapool Clock and sits on the corner of Quay Street and Argyle Street. It was erected in 1899 in memory of the sons and grandsons of Sir John Fowler of Braemore near Corrieshalloch Gorge who were killed in action. It was originally in the middle of the road but moved to its present position in the 1960s after complaints it was causing traffic congestion. At the top is an urn with the leafy finial holding a weathervane. Round the base are four inscriptions. The clock was originally wound by hand, but is now electric.




Also on the corner is the Caledonian Hotel, a Scottish Baronial building from the early 1900s and is one of the oldest hotels in the area.


Ullapool is still well provided with churches. The Loch Broom Free Church is on Quay Street.


The Church of Scotland is on Mill Street.


Just down from this is the tiny St Martin’s Roman Catholic Church


Ullapool Primary School is on Quay Street and has both English and Gaelic speaking classes. Ullapool also has a secondary school accepting pupils from across Sutherland as far as Lochinver and Drumbeg. This also has the public library and theatre in the Macphail Centre.


Highland Stoneware is about the only ‘attraction’ in Ullapool. The small pottery is just off Mill Street producing hand thrown and painted pottery. Designs are based on local flora and fauna.




Due to its relative isolation, Ullapool makes its own entertainment with festivals and concerts throughout the year.


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