Wester Ross has a huge range of activities, from award winning museums and heritage centres, to the amazing landscapes that offer hill climbing, watersports, pony trekking and fishing.
Not only does Gairloch lie just on the Western fringe of the infamous “Wilderness” tract of unspoilt mountainous land, it can also boast Torridon just to the South and Coigach and Assynt by Ullapool to the North. These areas have some of the best mountains in Scotland, with a large number of Munro’s (mountains over 3,000 feet), and many other great climbs of lesser heights to attract rock climbers and walkers. On lower ground, there are many great walks around the many lochs and glens that offer panoramic views to the hills and across the sea to Skye.
Wester Ross can have some stunning summer weather thanks to the warm Gulf Stream current. Indeed, while at a similar latitude to Moscow, it is possible to grow Palm Trees in local gardens. To make the most of the weather, it’s worth hitting some great beaches. The Atlantic water is usually a few degrees warmer than that found in the North Sea to the East, and in sheltered bays can be warm enough to accomodate a whole day swimming. Some of the great beaches can be found South of Port Henderson at Opinan (just 10 minutes walk from the cottage), and further along the road at Redpoint, where 2 beaches can be found either side of the point. There is also a lovel beach by the 9 hole golf course in Gairloch. North of Gairloch, there is a predictably large beach at Big Sand, and further afield there are good clean beaches at Mellon Udrigle and Gruinard Bay.
With such a great coastline, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of watersports activities. Badachro and Shieldaig bays offer some of the best sheltered anchorages in the North-West, and are ideal for kayaking, wind-surfing, and sailing. Gairloch has a busy fishing fleet, and from the harbour area cruises are run daily by many operators including the highly recommended Glass Bottom Boat, and Gairloch Marine Life Centre and Cruises, with a good chance of spotting Seals, Porpoise, Whales and Dolphins. Explore sheltered sea lochs, wide sandy bays and idyllic lochs surrounded by mountains with Ewe Canoe in beautiful Wester Ross. Friendly, qualified and experienced instructors ensure that your adventure is fun, informative ad memorable.
The area around Gairloch has some prime fishing locations – from sea fishing to the many hill lochs and rivers. The Rivers Ewe, Badachro, Kerry and Gruinard offer the chance of excellent Salmon and Sea Trout, while Loch Badachro, the Fairy Lochs, Loch Maree, Loch Tollaidh and Loch Kernsary amongst others are well known rich spots among local fishermen. Permits for the Gairloch Angling Club are available from many local shopsl. Sea fishing is also popular, with some top class specimens of Turbot, Whiting, Plaice, Cod and of course Haddock ripe for the catch. Close to the shore there are Mussels, Cockles, possibly Mackerel and even Squid and Conger Eel close by the shore. There are several local boat trips available, and these are highly recommended to get the best from Sea Fishing in the Gairloch area.
As early as 1898 golf was being played on the links above Gairloch Beach. The course comprises 9 holes, set in spectacular scenery with a backdrop of mountains and views to Skye and the Western Isles. Although a small course, the holes are nevertheless challenging with some tricky shots. Visitors to the club have included Prince Andrew, and there are regular tournaments for both locals and visitors. The clubhouse occupies a delightful position overlooking the beach, with views to the mountains, and is open for refreshments to those who do not wish to play golf. There is ample parking beside the course. Tourists can take advantage of day or weekly rates to play the greens. The members are always keen to welcome visitors.
Gairloch has a prize winning Heritage Museum, with informative displays on the local lighthouse, illicit whisky stills, croft life and the effects of WWII on the area. The hands-on activities will have children and adults travelling through time on the dullest of days. Events are often run in the Community Centre throughout the year, look out for posters advertising the latest events. The recently completed Gale Centre, in Gairloch, offers a comprehensive listing of events and activities in the local area as well as a gift and coffee shop. Nearby Inverewe Gardens are astonishing – at the same latitude as Moscow, the gardens are full of exotic plants from as far afield as the Himalaya, China, New Zealand, Africa and America, indeed they even grow Palm Trees! You can find out about Beinn Eighe, Scotland’s first Nature Reserve, at the newly refurbished visitor centre, on the shores of Loch Maree, near Kinlochewe. Experience easy walking trails in the vicinity or for the more active, the Mountain Trails.
Bars & Restaurants
Gairloch can boast a number of truly brilliant places to eat and drink. For a small snack or coffee the Mountain Coffee Company in Strath Square can’t be beaten, hours can be whiled away munching on rock cakes and taking in the view from the conservatory. Also in Strath Square is the Spiral Restaurant, which also boasts a take-away Chip Shop round the back. There are many Hotels to choose from, in Gairloch there are many hotels and excellent restaurants including Millcroft Hotel, Myrtle Bank Hotel, The Old Inn, The Shieling and The Steading. Plus there is also a Chinese Takeaway close to the Gale Centre. Within walking distance to the cottage is the waterside Badachro Inn and a short 5 minute drive to Shieldaig Lodge. It is advised to book all restaurants in advance, weekend evenings can be particularly busy, especially through the Summer months.