Scotland 24/7 - The definitive guide to travel and tourism in Scotland

Western Highlands

Western Highlands

In this particularly rugged area of the western Highlands, red-sands tone peaks rise above a landscape of moors and hundreds of lochs. Several nature reserves protect the area's wildlife and terrain. Traditional ways of life are retained in the crofting and fishing villages that lie along the shores of the sea lochs. Warm currents of the North Atlantic Drift allow exotic plants to flourish.

Boat trips around Summer Isles available from here. Hydroponicum, experimental garden without soil, open to visitors. Smokehouse by the sea has a viewing gallery for watching fish curing.

St Maelrubha built a monastery on this bay in AD 672, declaring it a sanctuary for all fugitives. Until new road was built in 1970s, one of the most inaccessible areas of mainland Britain.

Ardvreck Castle
Three-storey tower ruin on shore of Loch Assynt, built 1597 for MacLeods of Assynt. Marquis of Montrose fled here but was betrayed by Neil MacLeod and taken to Edinburgh for execution.

Bealach na Ba
This 'Pass of the Cattle', an old drovers' road, was only road to Applecross until 1970s. It leads from Loch Kishorn through ascending hairpin bends and skirts steep precipices on its way.

Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve
Britain's first national nature reserve (1951). It covers some 10,000 acres of mountain, moor-land and forest, including the 3188f1 Beinn Eighe. On one side, jagged peaks rise from the surrounding terrain; on the other, gentler slopes with woodland lead down to Loch Maree. Aultroy Cottage Visitor Centre located on A832 north of Kinlochewe.

Corrieshalloch Gorge
Suspension bridge spans gorge 200ft above river. River runs a mile down rocky chasm to plunge over 150ft Falls of Measach.

Cottages of Lower Diabaig group around Loch Diabaig, rocky cliffs rise straight up from shore. Exhilarating road along northern side of Upper Loch Torridon.

Village at south-east end of Little Loch Broom is the ideal starting point for exploring remote mountain scenery here. Streams tumble into head of loch from heights of An Teallach, 3,484ft. Nearby is Loch Toll an Lochain, 2,000ft above sea level.

Dun Lagaid
Iron Age fortress on isolated ridge along Loch Broom. Rocks vitrified when its timber walls burnt down.

Eas a Chual Aluinn Falls
Glas Bheinn peak is source for 658ft falls, longest fall in Britain. Easily seen by regular boat trips on Loch Glencoul.

Enard Bay
Sandy beaches backed by empty moorland and distant mountains. Narrow switchback road that skirts bay gives views.

Village at head of Loch Gairloch has quarter mile of safe, sandy beach where windsurfing and sailing are popular. Sea-angling boats for hire.

Gruinard Bay
Road along bay's western shore passes ruined chapel built where St Columba supposedly founded a church. Bay best viewed from atop Gruinard Hill.

Village at head of Loch Assynt, near 3273ft Ben More Assynt. Nature reserve has wildcats, red deer and limestone caves, where prehistoric animal bones have been found. Salmon and trout fishing in loch

Inverewe Gardens
Northern headland garden started by Osgood Mackenzie in 1862. North Atlantic Drift allows exotic shrubs, trees and bamboos to flourish.

Inverpolly National Nature Reserve
Over 26,000 acres of bog, moorland and woodland with sandstone peaks of Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Stac Pollaidh. Loch Sionascaig has good fishing. Information centre and carpark in Knockan.

Town at Loch Maree is popular centre for walkers, climbers and anglers. Area dominated by Slioch, 'the spear', 3217f1.

Loch Carron
Sea loch dotted with islands. Strome Castle, overlooking loch, blown up during 1603 clan feud. Nearby town of Lochcarron known for its ties and tartans.

Loch Ewe
Broad sea loch where ships assembled fur North Atlantic convoys during World War II. A number of pillboxes and gun emplacements still survive. Loch fishing, sea-angling boats for hire.

Whitewashed fishing village at head of Loch Inver. Suilven, 2399ft high, stands in Glencanisp Forest 4 miles south-east.

Loch Maree
Loch with many islands set amid mountainous terrain. Isle Maree was thought to be home to Celtic god Mourie. Later, St Maelrubha established hermitage there, eventually replaced by chapel. Slioch peak at south-eastern end.

Oykel Bridge
River Oykel flows down slopes of Ben More Assynt and through ice-gouged valley to Oykel Bridge. Single hotel stands by road nearby. Bridge just east of waterfall.

Village lies between Loch Ewe and Loch Maree. River Ewe, joining lochs, flows through village. Boats for hire, walks along Loch Maree's wooded banks, loch and river fishing.

Rubha Reidh
Peninsula ending in headland of Rubha Reidh extends north from Gairloch into the Minch. Ocean views from lighthouse at tip of promontory. Road over moors to Melvaig passes ruined cottages.

Village founded by Admiralty in 1800 when Britain was short of seamen. Intended as 'nursery' for Royal Navy, grants were offered to entice people to live there. Roads from village provide views of Highlands.

Crofting, fishing villages line each side of peninsula. Safe white sands at Achmelvich Bay and Bay of Clachioll. Road along peninsula ends at lighthouse on sandstone cliff. Walk to Point of Stoer along cliffs with nesting birds.

A890 leads along Loch Carron, up steep grades and down into South Strome Forest. Viewpoint over loch and Stromeferry near forest. Forest walk from Stromeferry to lochside viewpoints.

Seen from east or west, 2399ft Suilven appears cone-shaped; from elsewhere it reveals three separate peaks. Unstable cliff faces make it a dangerous climb.

Summer Isles
Islands were once lived on by fishermen, but herring shoals diminished, leaving just one isle currently inhabited. They can be visited by boat from Ullapool or from Achiltibuie.

Torridon, owned by National Trust for Scotland, has visitor centre giving introduction to walks through area of red-sandstone peaks. Wildlife from red deer to pygmy shrew.

Planned town developed by British Fisheries Society for local herring industry, founded 1788. Lochbroom Highland Museum houses some local artefacts in one of the original town buildings. Boat trips to Summer Isles, sea and river angling available.

Upper Loch Torridon
Small crofting hamlets dot sea loch's shore. Waters from Loch Damh to south drop down to Upper Loch Torridon through Falls of Balgy.

Victoria Falls
Waterfall near Slattadale on Loch Maree. Named after visit to loch by Queen Victoria in 1877.


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