The Highlands of Scotland has a wide range of landscapes and beautiful scenery with some of the best being around Wester Ross. This area is rich in wildlife, around the coast and in the mountains with natural landscapes enjoyed by people from all over the World who visit the areas of outstanding natural beauty. The Highlands have many historic locations where you can experience old castles, ancient brochs and standing stones.
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The coastal area around the north west coast of the Scottish Highlands is rich in wildlife, bring your binoculars with you and look out for otters, seals, dolphins and whales. While driving along the roads you will sometimes see wild goats, deer, eagles and buzzards; if you take a little time to explore by foot you will discover places which are often empty except for you and nature. Boat trips are available from Ullapool and Gairloch to watch for dolphins and whales as well as a myriad of other wildlife found along the coast of Wester Ross.
Mellon Udrigle is small hamlet overlooking Gruinard Bay. The beach is one of the prettiest sandy beaches in Wester Ross and is reached by taking the single track road from Laide towards Opinan. Before you reach Mellon Udrigle is a track that leads to the abandoned crofting village of Slaggan. The walk takes around 3 hrs. If you plan just to relax then the beach at Mellon Udrigle is certainly a great location to do so. Parking is available near the beach.
Laide is a small crofting settlement overlooking Gruinard Bay. From Laide you will see some of the best coastal scenery on the north west coast of Scotland, First Coast and Second Coast.
Aultbea is a small village beside Loch Ewe (a sea loch) and overlooks the Isle of Ewe. Loch Ewe was a very important base during WWII and still has an important military base located on the Loch. The village has a well stocked shop, garage and hotel as well as a cafe. The road around from Aultbea leads to Mellon Charles. The scenery on the road over from Laide to Aultbea has some of the best landscape scenery in the area. A small parking space is available at the top of the hill, at Druim Breach, before the drive down to Aultbea.
This village is situated at the mouth of the River Ewe (which flows from Loch Maree) where it joins Loch Ewe. This is a busy community and is famous for it's nearby Inverewe Gardens which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The gardens are a must see place for visitors to this area of Scotland. Plan to spend several hours or all day at the garden as there is a lot to see. The Inverewe Gardens Camping and Caravanning Club Site is very popular for visitors to this area who wish to have a camping or caravan holiday in beautiful surroundings. Near to Poolewe is the lovely remote Firemore beach where you can wild camp for a small daily charge.
Gairloch is a small village on the shores of Loch Gairloch and is part of a wide spread community that runs around the coastal areas of Loch Gairloch. At Gairloch you will find hotels, cafe's and small locally owned shops. The area around Gairloch provides a wide range of activities for people on holiday - surfing, boat hire, boat trips to Skye and nature trips, trekking and much more. We certainly can recommend trips to Gairloch with its beautiful sandy beaches, golf course and harbours. As mentioned there is many other small settlements around Loch Gairloch including Badachro, Port Henderson, Opinan and further at the end of the road Redpoint with its empty sandy beaches.
If you take the other coastal route to the Lighthouse at Rubha Reidh you will come across the Big Sands Campsite and beach, North Erradale and Melvaig. The Youth Hostel is also along this road near the Big Sands.
Loch Maree is one of the most scenic of the many beautiful lochs in Scotland. On the islands in this loch remain the remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest with Scots Pines covering many of the remote islands. This loch is also famous for trout and salmon fishing. At the Kinlochewe end of the loch is the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and nature trails. Closer to Gairloch is the Slattadale Forest Walk with parking and picnic areas.
The roads around Wester Ross are popular for cycling holidays and you will often spot wildlife missed while in the car and notice undisturbed locations to explore. Some of the roads are single track and this means you have to be aware of vehicles coming from both directions on the same road! It is a good idea to wear high visibility clothing to ensure that drivers see you in plenty of time.
Most hill tracks are suitable for mountain biking as many of these tracks are essentially farm estate tracks used by off road vehicles. Other tracks have been made for mostly pedestrian use but with care are also suitable for most people using suitable bikes.
You do need to be aware that many of these tracks travel into mountain landscapes which can be very isolated so you do need to treat all trips into these areas with care, ideally leave destination and estimated travel times with your accommodation provider or with friends. Mobile phone reception is not always guaranteed so please do not rely on this form of communication.
Throughout the year you can experience a wide range of temperatures and weather in the hills; please be prepared for changes in weather- you can get snow in summer in the Highlands, so warm clothing and waterproofs may be required, as well as a good supply of drinking water and energy foods for emergency use.
Sea and loch canoeing is very popular and you will find many different locations to explore using suitable canoes. You will also find that boating and sailing is available on many of the coastal locations and while many people do bring their own boats, boat hire is available near Gairloch and Ullapool. At Camusnagaul you can launch a small boat from the beach into Little Loch Broom.
The beaches around the north west coast provide many locations for swimming and surfing. You will find that Gairloch, Gruinard and many of the smaller sandy beaches do provide areas where swimming is safe and with the Gulf Stream, relatively warm in summer months. Other beaches do have strong undercurrents so please be aware of this and follow all safety notices on beaches. Many small beaches will not have any safety notices so do be aware of any potential hazards.
Pony trekking is available in Wester Ross at the Gairloch Trekking Centre.
Fishing is a popular holiday activity and in the Scottish Highlands we have some of the best angling locations in Britain. You can find many good spots for sea fishing off the coast or take a boat charter trip out to a number of locations. Charter boats for sea angling can be booked by the individual or group from Gairloch and from Ullapool. Locally Craig Ard Charters runs sea angling trips out of Ullapool and Kinlochbervie, so if you are looking to catch big fish please talk to Richard Ross, he is one of the family and lives at Camusnagaul.
With hundreds of accessible fresh water lochs and dozens of rivers this area of Scotland is perfect for trout, sea trout and salmon fishing. Some loch also have pike. Permits can be purchased for most lochs and rivers from Gairloch, Loch Maree Hotel and in Ullapool as well as from some of the private estates.
The Highlands and especially the countryside around Wester Ross provides some of the most accessible and interesting locations for seeing wildlife, from eagles flying overhead to dolphins and whales. The area is also home to many coastal birds so if bird watching is your hobby to will find many species to see and record.
Some of the best moments of one's life can be found coming across sea otters, just sit and watch them swimming, fishing and having fun. You can often get fairly close to Otters but it is easier to watch them through binoculars as they are less likely to swim away or hide, when disturbed, so remember to bring binoculars with you.
From Gairloch and Ullapool you can book boat trips to explore the coastal areas. Trips are available to visit the Summer Isles, day trips to Skye and longer trips to the Outer Hebrides. Trips are available during the summer months but are best booked in advance to avoid disappointment.
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