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Living in Ullapool: The Local Area Guide

A small town in the Scottish Highlands, Ullapool draws scores of visitors for its ruggedly beautiful scenery. It’s an ideal base for those wishing to explore the North West Highlands, positioned only an hour’s drive outside of Inverness. Visitors can access a ferry to the Summer Isles or Outer Hebrides, and take advantage of the outdoor recreation available in abundance here. Hill walking is a particularly popular endeavour, thanks to the proximity of giants like An Teallach and Beinn Ghobblach.

There’s a strong sense of Highland culture in Ullapool, with a thriving arts, music, and performance scene. The town houses its own museum, as well as an arts centre, swimming pool, and numerous pubs. It hosts an annual Ullapool Book Festival, as well as the Ullapool Guitar Festival and Loopallu Music Festival. This busy events calendar draws a range of internationally famous acts to tiny Ullapool, to the benefit of its residents.


The total population in Ullapool was 1,541 in 2013. The settlement is part of the Highland Council area, in Ross-shire County. The population profile in the Highlands tends to skew slightly older than the rest of Scotland, with higher proportions of all age groups over 45. There’s also a slightly higher population percentage of children than the national average.

Within Ullapool, the demographics are quite mixed, with a wide range of activities, people, and housing. The mix of jobs includes professional and non-professional industries. Many residents are self-employed (17.9%) or in part-time employment (30.1%) which is fairly typical of this type of small, independent town. Top employment sectors include accommodation, retail, transport, and the arts, which reflects the importance of tourism to the local economy.


Ullapool Primary School serves children between the ages of three and 12. Students hail from Ullapool and the surrounding area. At the time of the 2011 HMIE Inspection, the class roll was 172 in total. This nondenominational school offers a Gaelic medium provision and a nursery class. Both the primary and nursery schools were rated either good or satisfactory in all areas at the time of the latest inspection.

The other school in town is Ullapool High School, which provides 6 year comprehensive secondary education. It’s housed in a modern building which includes the Macphail Centre, featuring a public library and 200-seat theatre. When inspected in 2009 by HMIE, it was found to be good in terms of learner experiences and very good at meeting learning needs.


Remote and wild though it may seem, Ullapool is a well-connected destination. It sits 55 miles to the west of Inverness, which is approximately an hour’s drive along the A835. The A832 road connects Ullapool with destinations to the south including Gairloch, while the road north leads on to Achiltibuie and Coigach.

Public transportation is also available for residents. There’s a regular bus service between Inverness and Ullapool operated by Citylink Coaches, as well as regional services on D&E Coaches. Citylink connects Ullapool with Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stornoway. The closest railway station is in Garve, and the station in Inverness provides links to the rest of the UK. Taxi services are provided by Ewen’s of Ullapool and Ullapool Taxi services. A ferry connects Ullapool and Stornoway, operated by Caledonian MacBraynes. Times vary throughout the year, with this being a scenic way to get out on the water and view the Summer Isles. For those travelling by plane, airports are located in both Inverness and Stornoway.

Amenities and shopping

With a bustling tourism trade, particularly during the summer months, Ullapool features a number of charming gift shops, cafes, and pubs. One highlight is Made in Ullapool, which is a social enterprise supporting vulnerable adults. They sell handmade candles and cards in a friendly community gift shop. The Tea Store, Frigate Café, and Gallery Café offer food and beverages in casual surroundings. There’s also a newsagent, outdoor gear and clothing shop, hardware store, and bookshop. A Tesco Superstore is on hand for residents to stock up on groceries and home goods. Inverness is an hour’s drive away, and offers additional high street shopping and entertainment.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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