Discover Beautiful Wester Ross, Scotland

Spectacular-sunrises-and-su.jpg

DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL WESTER ROSS, SCOTLAND
By Chrissy Nason-Smith, with photos by Steve Carter

 

Wester Ross is a very special place in the UK and designated by the Scottish government as an area that represents the very best of Scotland’s renowned scenery.  Given that Scotland has so many beautiful areas, that is reason enough to visit though it’s also recently been officially recognized by UNESCO as a special area and made a Biosphere Reserve, one of only 6 in the UK.

Often referred to as the last wilderness of Europe, Shieldaig, Torridon and the Applecross Peninsula offer stunning scenery, single track roads, amazing wildlife, friendly locals and such a memorable experience, like everyone who visits, you will want to return very soon.

 

For a truly stylish stay in the area An Cos Shieldaig, a luxurious 5-star house, is hard to beat. Peacefully located in an elevated position overlooking the loch and conservation village of Shieldaig, An Cos sleeps up to 10 and is open all year round.  Recently built in traditional style and local Torridon stone, with a blend of antique and contemporary furnishings, the house combines all the facilities of a high-end hotel and the comforts of home.  Local artwork adorn the walls, open log fires, steam room, exceptionally well-equipped and stunning views make this a perfect house to return to after a day on the hill, the water or sightseeing – perfect for families or small groups.

 

Originally a fishing village with a single row of cottages built around the end of the loch overlooking Shieldaig Island and below towering Ben Shieldaig, the village is picture-postcard-pretty. With views out to sea towards the Isle of Harris and the Torridon Mountains forming a spectacular backdrop, it is a photographer’s dream.  Shieldaig has a pub, restaurant, smokehouse and shop that are open daily as well as Nanny’s Café.  Mountain guiding by a local expert, road and mountain biking, all-weather tennis court with racquet and ball hire, kayaking, walking, den-building in the woods, pottering about in boats – there’s a lot going on for such a small highland village!  Situated in the Gulf Stream – tropical palm trees thrive where cultivated in Plockton and Inverewe – the climate can be both mild and extreme with four seasons in one day.  But whatever the weather the area remains hauntingly beautiful.

 

Stunning views from every angle, majestic mountains – nearly the highest in the UK – stag, sea eagles, otters, seals, occasional dolphins, nature at its best.  Watching the weather patterns ‘weave’ across the loch or gently ambling along an easy path, a holiday in this area allows you to slow down, go at your own pace and do as little or as much as you like. This makes this area particularly suitable as a family destination as there is something to keep all generations happy, including serious outdoor pursuits for the very active.

If you want to ‘bag a few Munros’ (Scottish speak for conquering peaks over 3000ft) there are nine to choose from north and south of the famous Torridon Mountain Range. They are among the most dramatic and spectacular peaks in the British Isles and made of some of the oldest rocks in the world.  This area offers year round walking for all levels and mountaineering for experienced walkers (guides recommended for the not-so-experienced). Instruction is also available in winter for those who want to learn how to stay safe in snowy mountain conditions.

 

Sea kayaking, archery, walking, climbing, mountain and road bikes for hire and guiding with an expert local guide are available with Shieldaig Adventures. Also in the village, Torridon Yacht Charter offers bareboat charter on a Hanse 385 yacht.They also offer bespoke charters for up to five passengers aboard a rigid inflatable boat. Boat trips can usually be arranged locally and fishing arranged in advance through a local ghillie.

 

Nine-hole golf courses are available in Lochcarron and Gairloch (club hire available) both within easy reach and well worth a visit.  The famous tropical Inverewe Gardens, the iconic Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye, with its famous Talisker Whisky distillery and volcanic mountain range all make a great day out, each around 1½ – 2 hours drive from Shieldaig.

 

And you won’t go hungry! With emphasis on fresh fish and local produce there are several award winning restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as fine dining, in the area. Shieldaig has its own smokehouse for the best smoked salmon you will ever taste and seasonal lobster, crab, langoustine and scallops straight from the boat.

 

Because of the spectacular light the area attracts many artists and there are several galleries and craft shops.  There are also gifted musicians and singers and most weekends there is live music in one of the village pubs – always worth a visit for the wide range of local ales and single malt whiskies.

 

For such a remote and unspoilt area, Wester Ross is very accessible with low-cost flights from most UK airports to Inverness, followed by an 80 mile drive through spectacular scenery to the west coast.  From London the overnight sleeper train to Inverness is also a good option and, if booked in advance, is reasonably priced.  Alternatively, fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow with a choice of two routes (both approximately 5 hours): via the East Coast through Stirling, Perth and the Cairngorms to Inverness; via the West Coast through Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Fort William (departure point for the Jacobite steam train famously featured as the Hogwart Express in Harry Potter novels) and the truly stunning West Coast –  definitely worth adding time for a road trip to explore this special corner of Scotland.

 

Talking of road trips, Shieldaig is located on the North Coast 500, a 516 mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland that starts and ends at Inverness Castle.  Launched in 2015, the NC500 has already been voted one of the top five road trips in the world.

 

Once visited, often re-visited, never forgotten!

 

Chrissy Nason-Smith is a travel writer and owner of An Cos Shieldaig Luxiry Vacation House. For more info, visit www.AnCosShieldaig.co.uk or call +44 0207 096 1893. Photography is by www.SteveCarter.com.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Feedback Received