June 14, 2024 11 min read

We're back with another Highlands Guide and this time we're headed to Wester Ross. Home to some of Scotland's most gorgeous seaside views and fresh seafood, the Wester Ross region includes the famous Applecross, Ullapool, Torridon and Plockton. This area was a go-to for our family summer holidays whilst growing up and the memories are filled with seal-spotting, the warm smell of beer gardens and pre-dinner crabbing by the waters. We have curated this guide to highlight the top-spots in Wester Ross, whether you're searching for an adventurous climb up Stac Pollaidh, looking for the Highlands' best seafood spots or seeking a relaxing stroll through Inverewe Gardens. Wester Ross is dynamic, with fun to be had for all ages and interests, so read on to find out more about our top picks.

What to See:

Applecross Bay

A visit to Applecross Bay has been a staple in my family’s road trip stop- off list, and if I’m honest, one of the few places we’ve managed to spot seals in the wild. Applecross Bay lies between Loch Torridon and Loch Kishorn, and its inaccessibility injects a touch of excitement when trying to track it down. These days, the two best ways to reach the peninsula are via the coastal road from Shielding or via the Bealach na Ba (one of Britain’s highest roads). The Bay itself is one of the Western Highland’s largest sandy inlets and is commonly used for a variety of water-based activities, from kayaking to sail boarding. The opportunity to spot wildlife here is paramount with the occasional visit from whales and porpoises, and even more allusively, a known inhibitor of the Applecross Peninsula and a challenge for the most observant of birdwatchers… The Golden Eagle. Both the Applecross Inn and Applecross Walled Garden are close by for some grub after a day by the water and if you’re looking to take a more adventurous route, Applecross Mountain & Sea Guides offer expertise and guided tours in the area.

Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve

The Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve can be found around 20 km south of Ullapool. The Gorge was once part of the Braemore estate which was owned by engineering pioneer, Sir John Fowler. Flower was responsible for the world’s first underground railway and he didn’t stop there- he made it a mission to transform his Highland abode and over the span of 30 years, planted over 9 million trees in this landscape. He also built the suspension bridge that attracts visitors today, swaying 45 metres above the Falls of Measach. The thrashing waters are a sight to behold, and its historical heritage and uniqueness make it a must-see for anyone travelling around Scotland.

Photo Spot: Red Roof Cottage

The Famous Red Roof Cottage At Loch Shieldaig boasts a popular spot amongst photographers, walkers, and just general view-lovers alike. Framed beautifully by both water and mountains, capturing this gem at sunset would make for an optimum Instasnapshot. 

Red Point Beaches

Red Point's massive sandy dunes and unrivalled views are an unmissable stop-off on a journey through Wester Ross. Red Point has two glorious beaches to show off and starting from the beach car park, you can follow the faint path between the two. The views of the islands on clear days certainly make this a worthwhile stop-off on your itinerary. The path can get a little tricky to navigate so suitable footwear is essential (and there’s lots of sheep poo!) and Red Point is also dog-friendly, meaning that your furry friend is also welcome on this adventure. 

What to Do:

Climb a Munro: Stac Pollaidh

This one’s for the adventurers- Stac Pollaidh’s rugged, Torridonian sandstone peaks beckon hikers and climbers, promising breath-taking views of the surrounding wilderness. Beginning in the Stac Pollaidh car park, the terrain is easy to walk on and well-signed, with boggy patches appearing here and there. To reach the true summit of the Munro, you’ll have to undergo some tricky rock scrambling to reach the top, with the entire walk taking between 2 to 4 hours in total.

Falconry at Shieldaig Lodge

Want a proper ‘at one with nature’ experience? At Shieldaig Lodge, once a Victorian hunting lodge and now a renovated hotel & restaurant, you can get up close and personal with some of Scotland’s impressive birds of prey. Falconry at Shieldaig lodge must be booked by appointment via their website, and with a vast selection of ‘experiences’ to choose from with the raptors and owls, you can tailor the activity to suit you, your peers, and your itinerary. As well as falconry, Shieldaig Lodge offers a range of excursions from their property that include pony trekking, whale watching, and deer stalking. 

Images: shieldaiglodge.com
Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail

This spectacular trail offers a breathtaking journey through the ancient Caledonian pine forests, past crystal-clear lochs, and up to the rugged peaks of the Torridon mountains toward an ice-scraped plateau of quartzite rocks. Beginning in the Coille na Glas Letire Trails car park, off the A83, the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail is the only way-marked mountain trail in Scotland, making it an easy one to navigate. The terrain however can be quite steep and challenging- walking boots (and most likely some waterproofs, depending on weather) are heavily recommended for this expedition. 

What to Explore:

Inverewe Gardens

The award-winning Inverewe Gardens are situated on the shores of Loch Ewe, and boasts a unique microclimate, thanks to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, allowing for the cultivation of an astonishing array of exotic, and prehistoric plants from around the world. There’s a network of paths to follow through the Gardens as you wander through this lush paradise, with rhododendrons, azaleas, and towering eucalyptus trees creating a visual kaleidoscope of colours. At the heart of the gardens sits Inverewe House where you can dabble in Highland history, and adjacent Sawyer Gallery which hosts exhibitions throughout the year that can be explored by visitors. Inverewe Gardens is a home of Scotland’s Big 5; red squirrel, red deer, otter, seal and golden eagle- so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!

Plockton Village

Dubbed as ‘the jewel of the Highlands’, I’m proud to say that Plockton Village was our family holiday destination for a decade. The village, which sits on shore with views of Loch Carron, epitomises ‘picturesque’ with quaint seashore cottages, panoramic views, secret bays, coral beaches and rich in wildlife. Calum’s Seal Trips is one of the most well-famed and longest-running boat tours in Scotland, and I’m sure a lot of this can be put down to Calum’s good chat and over 35 years experience on the water. If anyone can get the seals to come out and play, it’s him, and even if they don’t, Plockton is home to an array of species from dolphins to sea eagles so there’s always something to spot. It’s a great destination to properly unwind, go crabbing on the pier at dusk, and stroll along to the Plockton Inn for a drink to enjoy as the sun goes down. 

The Fairy Lochs

The Fairy Lochs at Gairloch are known for their breath-taking beauty, but they also hold poignant history that only adds to their mysterious vibe further. At the end of the Second World War, a plane that was taking service personnel back home to the US hit the top of Slioch (mountain) and eventually crash landed onto the site now named the ‘Fairy Lochs’. Most of the debris remains untouched since the tragedy occurred and to this day, pieces of aircraft remain scattered across the lochs. The main route is well signposted from the carpark and the trek should be suitable for all ages, unless weather conditions are extreme. For those looking for an extra challenge, you can head to the summit of Sithean Mor, to the north of the lochs, for a fantastic viewpoint of the site. Sheildaig lodge offers guided tours of the Fairy Lochs if you want to be shown around by a pro!

Hidden Gems:

Eilean Donan

Arguably one of the most iconic and photographed views of the Scottish Highlands- Eilean Donan Castle. Situated on an island between the meeting point of three lochs, it’s no wonder that it’s one of Scotland’s most visited attractions. First built in the mid-13th century, the castle has undergone four makeovers in that time and it is thought that the name stems from Irish Saint, Bishop Donan, who was influential in the area and is thought to have most likely built a small community on the island. With strong roots in Scotland’s history, the castle’s significance in the Jacobite Uprising is what led to its destruction in 1719. Visitors can now step inside to discover centuries of history, from clan battles to movie sets, and explore the well-preserved rooms that transport you back in time.

Hillbillies Bookshop

This quirky and unique bookstore can be located next to the Mountain Coffee Company in Gairloch. It’s the perfect stop-off to stretch your legs along the NC500 route and with a vast array of books and a small but expert bookseller team, you can find the perfect story to take along with you for the rest of your travels. 

Image: @grandmatoday
Poolewe Tuesday Market

The Poolewe Tuesday Market is an amazing way to explore some of the best small brands and artists that Scotland has to offer. With an emphasis on supporting local businesses, you can find an array of arts, crafts, baked goods, local breweries and much more, which means there’s something to keep everyone happy! The market usually runs from the last week of March until the first week of October and can be found within Poolewe Hall. 

Where to Stay:

Duirnish Pods

With two pods available, ‘Applecross’ and ‘Kishorn’, a stay at one of the Duirinish pods will certainly be a peaceful one. Situated between Plockton and Loch and Kyle of Lochalsh, it's undoubtable that you’ll encounter some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. The pods themselves are of very high quality, fitting with all the facilities you would need as well as a private hot tub for each pod… I can’t imagine anywhere better to kick back and soak up some views.

The Stables at Torridon

A stay at The Stables at Torridon in Wester Ross is like a page torn from a Highland fairy tale. Nestled in the heart of one of Scotland's most enchanting landscapes, this boutique accommodation lets you experience the Torridon Estate in cosy luxury. Despite this, a stay at the Torridon is no short of adventure with a vast array of activities that can be arranged by the hotel; from gorge scrambling and kayaking to the Torridon snorkel trail, clay pigeon shooting and mountain biking.

Images: @thetorridon
The Sheiling
The Sheiling, as featured on Scotland’s Greatest Escapes, can be found just outside the village of Plockton. Featured in the show’s ‘Loch, Bens & Glens’ category, the Sheiling sits right on the edge of Loch Lundie, but this isn’t just any loch… this is a privately owned loch. This means that when staying at the Sheiling, you literally have the whole of the water to yourselves. The unusually circular building, inspired by the crannogs of the Iron Age, was built only in 2021, meaning that the property is fresh in its appearance, features and appliances. The Sheiling sleeps 4 and offers a luxurious and unforgettably secluded experience, with a private hot tub looking over the Loch which gained the property the title of ‘Winner of Britain's Best Holiday Let and Best View 2021’.
Image: lochlundie.com

Where to Eat:

The Seafood Shack

The Seafood Shack has a good shot at providing you with some of the freshest seafood you can get your hands on. Known as the home of Ullapool’s best and local seafood, this catering trailer also boasts an impressive list of culinary awards which shows the high standard that they strive for. Kirsty and Fenella, founders of the shack, are passionate about supporting the local fishermen and wanted Ullapool to be able to enjoy the high quality fish and shellfish that many were coming from far and wide to source. The Seafood Shack is in full swing ahead of summer, but I’d recommend double checking opening times before making a trip there. 

Kishorn Seafood

A baby-blue log cabin with gorgeous loch views… the Kishorn Seafood bar certainly looks like it's out of a fairytale. Found in the small village of Kishorn, it’s the perfect place to stop for lunch in the peak of summer with its outdoor seating and views to Skye and the Applecross Peninsula. The quality of the food is undeniable, with a fresh daily catch coming straight from the local boats to the restaurant. Lucy Kerr, the owner, cares a lot about sourcing locally, including scallops that are hand-dived along the immediate, local coastline.

Images: www.kishornseafoodbar.co.uk
The Potting Shed- Applecross Walled Garden

The Applecross Walled Garden is a place where food and experience are merged as one. Despite being a little drive away, visitors of the walled garden find that their journey there is a part of the experience, taking you through Applecross via one of Scotland’s most scenic drives. The impressive 1.25 acre garden can be expected to have a literal kaleidoscope of colour filling their flower beds by the time they’ve hit full bloom and it;s a great option for families. Since there is a pretty solid and massive wall around the perimeter of the property, it’s a good place for the kids to roam and play freely (and give you some peace for a moment!). Although the seafood options are especially popular, The Potting Shed restaurant accommodates for al palettes and a stunning roast dinner on Sundays.

Gille Bridghe

Gille Brighde is worth a visit even if it’s just to catch a glimpse of its beautiful setting. You can take a single-stretch 8 mile track from Torridon to reach the restaurant, which once upon a time, stood as the old school house. Vast landscape and hills set the backdrop for the building, with a horseshoe bay and glistening waters to explore after a delicious meal. The name ‘Gille Bridhde’ literally means ‘oystercatcher’ and if that isn’t a clue to taste some of their locally-sourced seafood… I don't know what is. As a seasonal restaurant, I’d recommend checking opening times and menu availability prior to a visit. 

Where to Drink:

Applecross Inn

The Applecross Peninsula is an iconic part of Scotland’s Highlands, making a stop at the Applecross Inn is an absolute must for a meal. Found in the Applecross peninsula, the Inn sits on Shore Street, with beautiful views across the water toward the Isle of Skye and Raasay. The Applecross Inn is a famed stop-off on the NC-500 route and there’s no doubt you’ll be receiving some top-notch scran, from their fresh and local seafood, to their traditional (and extremely tasty) pub grub. It’s the perfect combination of a warm atmosphere and beautiful surroundings

Plockton Inn

Located on the main street of the charming village of Plockton, you’ll be able to find Plockton Inn. With its recent refurbishment, the inn is looking better than ever and makes for a perfect dinner spot during summer, with both indoor and outdoor seating. It adopts a warm and cosy vibe, with quiz nights and live music taking place in the bar. A stroll along the pier and shore after you’ve been warmed by a few drinks is the perfect end to any day of exploring. 

Images: @plockton_inn
Badachro Inn
The Badachro Inn sits in the sheltered bay on the southside of Loch Gairloch. A conservatory by the bar allows you to look out onto the spectacular views and surroundings whilst you kick back and sip on a bevvy. And if you take it a bit too far? No problem- their mobile pizza oven, ‘Stag and Dough’, is usually situated as the Badachro Inn so you can grab a freshly woodfired pizza to soak it right back up again. 

We hope this guide can provide you with some inspiration when planning your next Scottish getaway. We've been having some great feedback on our Highland Guides from customers visiting the country and we'd love to see what you all get up to so be sure to tag #everydayadventures in your socials!

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