How to visit Wester Ross [& why you really should]

With over 3000 square miles of soaring mountains and atmospheric glens, ancient Caledonian forest and wild beaches set against a backdrop of fjord-like lochs; Wester Ross is one of the world’s most spectacular, and remote, regions and probably the most beautiful part of the famous North Coast 500.

Why you should visit Wester Ross

Despite it having a very similar name, Wester Ross is not actually a George R R Martin fantasy ‘beyond the wall‘ but it is beautifully wild and untamed. ‘Wester Ross’ or West Ross-Shire covers the western part of the Scottish highlands and includes the Kyle of Lochalsh, the famous Applecross peninsula, and the spectacular coast all the way up to Ullapool from the Isle of Skye. Add in some of Scotland’s best seafood, gorgeous villages, and a mild climate, Wester Ross is one of my favourite areas of Scotland. Here is how to visit Wester Ross.

Things to do in Wester Ross

From climbing a Munro to whale watching, exploring castles and gorgeous gardens, there is plenty to keep you busy in Wester Ross when you aren’t staring awe-struck at the scenery. Whether you are visiting for a week, or a weekend, here are 3 mini-guides to help you explore the area.

Things to do near Ullapool and Gairloch

The most northerly village in Wester Ross, Ullapool is one of the Highland’s most picturesque, and the gateway to the Isle of Lewis. To the south lies Gairloch, which sits on the spectacular Loch Gairloch, where the beaches stretch for miles.

  • Take a Hebridean Whale Cruise to spot otters, seabirds and even dolphins and sharks in the waters off Gairloch.
  • Explore some of the world’s best beaches, head to Red Point, for beautiful red sands and Big Sands for views across to Raasay and Skye.
  • Walk the spectacular Corrieshalloch Gorge, through which the River Droma falls through a series of waterfalls, including the huge 45 m Falls of Measach.
  • Don’t miss a trip to the spectacular Inverewe Garden and Estate at Poolewe, one of Scotland’s most beautiful gardens. Inverewe House has recently been opened to the public for the first time in its history and gives visitors a snapshot of 1930s life in a Scottish estate.
Wester Ross

Things to do Gairloch to Applecross

The drive between Gairloch and the Applecross peninsula must be up there as one of the top drives in the world. Twisting and turning between the monstrous Munro ranges of the Torridon Hills, you drop down to the coastal road and wind your way to Shieldaig.

  • Take a detour to the beautiful Glen Docherty (along the A832) for stunning views to Loch Maree.
  • Visit the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, and explore the woodlands, home to 350-year-old Scots Pines remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest. Beinn Eighe is a Unesco Biosphere, covering 500,000ha meters of protected landscape.
  • Climb a Munro such Liathach, or the dramatic An Teallach, voted one of the best Munros to climb (out of all 282!) Before you think about climbing a Munro, have a look at my guide to climbing a Munro for beginners, know the weather forecast and finally, be prepared. The mountain weather can change in a second.
  • If you don’t fancy a Munro, explore the village of Torridon along one of three low-level walks and visit the Torridon Countryside Centre to find out more about this beautiful region.
  • If you are the adventurous type, why not try out one of a huge range of activities provided by Torridon Activities which included guided mountaineering, kayaking, and gorge scrambling.

Things to do Applecross to Kyle of Lochalsh

Between Applecross and the Kyle of Lochalsh lie Loch Carron and Loch Kisholm, where the villages of Strathcarrron and Lochcarron look across to Skye. The Kyle railway line runs along the lochside, a spectacular way to explore the area.

  • Drive the famous and terrifying Bealach Na Bà pass across the remote Applecross Penisula. The road is utterly incredible, and definitely not for the faint of heart, for an idea just look at this film of the route.
  • Take a walk to Sands Beach, voted by Countryfile readers as the Beach of the Year in 2015/16. It is one of my favourite places in Scotland and a gorgeous 10km walk from the village on the Penisula.
  • Stop at Strome Castle on Loch Carron, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s little gems.
  • Explore Attadale Gardenswhere in the late 19th century a plant collector started a garden on the Attadale estate, importing rhododendrons from all over the world.
  • Don’t miss out on visiting the village of Plockton, where the mild, warm and wet climate allows palm trees to prosper on the waterfront!
Wester Ross

Where to stay in Wester Ross

  • Gairloch – Sands at Gairloch is a spectacular campsite, right on the beach. With a well-stocked shop and great facilities, it makes popping the tent into the car a real treat.
  • TorridonThe Torridon Hotel is famous throughout Scotland for luxury rooms, warm hospitality, and amazing food. The building is something rather special too. The Torridon Inn provides comfortable rooms, great bar food, and real ale, perfect for relaxing after a busy or strenuous day!
  • Applecross Peninsula – The lovely Applecross Inn and brilliantly located Applecross Campsite, are both located on Shore Street.
  • Plockton –  The Plockton Hotel was the Wester Ross & Highland’s Camra pub of the year and serves a great pint.  The Plockton Inn is renowned for its seafood.

Where to eat & drink in Wester Ross

  • Watch the brave drivers head out onto the Bealach Na Ba over coffee and a great lunch at the Bealach Cafe in Tornapress.
  • The Whistle Stop Cafe in Kinlochlewe is also a popular place for lunch, as is the Bridge Cafe in Poolewe.
  • It is worth taking a detour to the tiny village of Diabaig, where the Gille Brighde restaurant sites on the shore of Loch Torridon; if the amazing views along the way aren't enough, the food is pretty excellent too.
  • In Strathcarron, fresh seafood can be found at one of the best waterfront settings in Scotland at the Kishorn Seafood Bar.
  • On the Applecross Penisula, The Applecross Inn attracts people across the world for its incredible seafood - try the Applecross prawns which are really huge langoustines!
  • The Applecross walled garden serves specialities either straight off the owner's boat or grown in their own garden.

So, how do you get to Wester Ross?

Despite Wester Ross being rather remote, it can be easily be reached by both road and public transport. The North Coast 500 route passes through it, but if you don't fancy driving the whole coast of Scotland, you can get there:

  • By car - Wester Ross is around 5-hours north from Edinburgh or Glasgow, or around 2-3 hours drive west from Inverness Airport.
  • By train -  the beautiful Kyle line will take you to Plockton and Strathcarron from Inverness, approx 2 hours 40 minutes.
  • By bus - Citylink will take you from Glasgow to The Kyle of Lochalsh and the Westerbus service operates between Inverness and Gairloch.

More tips for visiting Wester Ross

The Hanzell website has a huge amount of information on the local public transport in Wester Ross visit. Be warned services are limited. Contact the service you require before heading off many places are request stops only.

If you planning on doing a road trip, my top tip is to drive north to south - if you haven't driven on Scotland's single track and occasionally hair-raising roads, this keeps the coast and other cars to your left! Finally, don't forget those west coast sunsets, they really are something else!

North Coast 500 applecross

More information on visiting Wester Ross is available from

Planning your own road trip?
my guide to planning a road trip in Scotland

Love from, Scotland x


  • The Soul of Seoul 07/09/2016 at 3:10 am

    Love the title haha. Scotland looks AMAZING! Not that I thought it wasn’t but every time I see pictures I’m just at awe. I really need to get there the next time we’re travel bound.

  • Vyjay Rao 07/09/2016 at 8:49 am

    Scotland is a paradise, a haven for nature lovers. Its lush landscapes are indeed breathtaking. Wester Ross looks like a relatively unknown gem and makes it all the more attractive for that reason.

  • ckaway 07/09/2016 at 12:42 pm

    You have put together an excellent and very comprehensive guide. I have not been to Scotland but this would surely be an adventure to put on my list. Nice job putting it together; it’s quite useful and certainly an enjoyable post.

  • Amandas_Wanderlust 07/09/2016 at 12:54 pm

    This is a great post and a really helpful guide. I love the sound of Wester Ross. I would love to do the drive between Gairloch and the Applecross peninsula. The scenery looks stunning and so rugged. Would also love to check out the Beinn Eighe nature Reserve too.

  • Happy Coconuts Travel Blog 07/09/2016 at 9:47 pm

    Scotland is at the top of my list, I can’t wait to see in person!!

  • Anna Shirley 08/09/2016 at 5:45 am

    Beautiful country. Food looks so yammy! These pictures made me hungry. o) Thank you for linking up with TRAVEL INSPIRATION.


  • Lara Dunning 08/09/2016 at 5:50 am

    Scotland is high on my list and I love visiting remote places and small towns so this is perfect! Saving!

  • Cory Lee 08/09/2016 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve actually never heard of Wester Ross, but it looks like a beautiful place. So peaceful looking! I’d love to visit just to get away for a while.

  • Edwina 09/09/2016 at 12:14 pm

    Sands Beach looks really exotic. I bet it’s amazing in the summer! Your cloudy photos look great as well though, very dramatic.

  • WhereMonicaGoes 10/09/2016 at 2:47 am

    I think I really got hooked into GOT, because I read your post as Westeros. Haha! Anyway, Scotland seems really so beautiful. I can only imagine the sights when you drive up to there. The long, winding, twisting roads are so fun! You should try Grossglockner high alpine road in Austria as well. The view is amazing!

  • Lisa (Klipdrifters) 11/09/2016 at 1:39 pm

    Oh Scotland, how I miss you! We were only in Scotland for about 5 days but could easily have spent a month! Wester Ross sounds epic and looks beautiful… will definitely check it out when we visit again.

  • Renne Simpson (@TravelLushes) 13/09/2016 at 10:20 am

    Oh man… The sunset! I totally thought game of thrones as soon as I saw the name haha. Roadtrip pink through this place would be amazing. Love that it’s so remote.

    • Renne Simpson (@TravelLushes) 13/09/2016 at 10:21 am


  • afamilydayout 08/10/2016 at 9:19 am

    This takes me back 🙂 We stayed at Sands in Gairloch a few years ago and I can highly recommend although we did get ‘midged’. I love this part of Scotland!

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