Altnaharra lies near the western end of Loch Naver, on the road mid-way between Lairg and
The area shows evidence of man's activities dating back thousands of years, from ancient hut circles and
brochs to more recent remains of cleared crofting communities. The name
'Altnaharra' derives from the Gaelic and means 'the burn of the shieling', a shieling being a shelter used
by crofters in the summer months while grazing their cattle. These crofters probably came from nearby
Strathnaver which supported a large population of hill farmers for centuries until
the infamous clearances of the nineteenth century.
The road that runs through Altnaharra would have originally been a drove road used by crofters to take their
livestock to market. There was once a 17th century drovers inn on the site of the current Altnaharra Hotel.
Following the clearances of the early 1800s the local population would have fallen dramatically, as would the
number of crofters using the drove road. In 1820s a new inn was built and began to attract tourists to the area
for its excellent fishing and shooting, which is still the case today. The landscape around Altnaharra includes
Loch Naver and Loch Hope which, along with many other smaller lochs, offer some of the best salmon and trout fishing
in Scotland. The surrounding estates also offers opportunities for stalking deer and shooting game.
The main village follows the path of the road and consists of a few houses, the hotel, the parish church and the
village school although there are many more scattered houses and crofts that make up the wider community. One
interesting point is that many people may have heard of Altnaharra without even knowing where it is. This is
because there is a met office weather station in the village which, because of its location, often records some
extreme winter conditions. It was this station that recorded the lowest temperature ever in the UK on the 30th of
December 1995 when the mercury fell to -27.2 degrees Celsius.