Wester Ross: The Complete Guide

Sandwood Bay
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Phillyacct

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.

Wester Ross is an area of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland in the council area of Highland. The area is loosely defined, and has never been used as a formal administrative region in its own right, but is generally regarded as lying to the west of the main watershed of Ross (the eastern part of Ross being Easter Ross), thus forming the western half of the county of Ross and Cromarty.

Wester Ross has one of the lowest population densities in Europe, with just 1.6 people per km2, who live mostly in small crofting townships along the coastline of the region. The area is renowned for the scenic splendour of its mountains and coastline, and the range of wildlife that can be seen. It is a popular tourist destination, receiving around 70,000 visitors each year.[8] Tourism forms a major part of the economic activity of the area, accounting for 35% of all employment. Other major economic activities in the area include commercial fishing, renewable energy, agriculture and fish farming.

The area gives its name to the Wester Ross National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland, which are defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure their protection from inappropriate development.

Scenic spots including Loch Maree, Inverewe Garden, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Glen Docherty and the Bealach na Bà. Wester Ross was designated as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) Programme in April 2016. The Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve now covers 5,200 square kilometres of Wester Ross and Lochalsh. This new-style biosphere, which covers an area over 100 times larger than the original designation, is a place where people live and actively learn about their surroundings to inspire a legacy rich in both natural and cultural heritage.

Visiting Wester Ross for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Wester Ross on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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18 Best places to See in Wester Ross

This complete guide to Wester Ross not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Wester Ross and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve

Beinn Eighe From Abhainn Bruachaig
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Ibn Musa / Beinn Eighe from Abhainn Bruachaig
Pronounced ‘Ben A’, this glorious mountain range was the first in Britain to gain National Nature Reserve status in 1951, and encompasses a range of habitats from pine forests on the shores of Loch Mare to moorland and rugge, mountain peaks. The Aultroy Visitor Centre just outside Kinlochewe is a great place to get your […]
Visiting Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve

Inverewe Garden

Inverewe Garden
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Alexandre Dulaunoy
A lush, tropical oasis perched on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe amid the rugged landscape of Wester Ross, this world-famous 21 hectare (52 acre) historic garden is one of Scotland’s most popular botanical attractions. Bare rock, thin soil and a few scrub willows were all that was on the site in 1862, […]
| Hours: Garden, shop, Osgood’s Café, Inverewe House and visitor centre 9.45–16.00 | Price: Adult £13.00 Family £33.00 | Website | Distance: 11.80km
Visiting Inverewe Garden

Flowerdale Glen

The well-sheltered Flowerdale Glen is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life and owes its English name to the impressive display of wildflowers which can be seen in spring and summer. A gentle walk passes Flowerdale House, built by the MacKenzies of Gairloch, in 1738, who still own much of the surrounding […]
Visiting Flowerdale Glen

Gairloch Museum

External Shot Of Gairloch Museum
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Macfack
The excellent Gairloch Museum, housed in a converted Cold War era Anti-Aircraft Operations Room, showcases the history, culture and natural heritage of this beautiful area. The collection includes ancient artefacts, such as the Bronze Age Poolewe Hoard and a Pictish carved stone depicting a fish, alongside objects from more recent times. These include the original […]
Location: Gairloch Museum, Gairloch, UK | Hours: Open Easter-October, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. | Website | Distance: 13.10km
Visiting Gairloch Museum

Torridon Countryside Centre and Deer Museum

With some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Scotland, Torridon is a magnet for walkers, geologists and naturalists. The rugged mountains are incredibly old – the Torridonian sandstone that forms the bulk of all the mountains dates back 750 million years, while to the west, the hilly and loch-strewn landscape is even older. There’s […]
Location: Deer Museum Achnasheen IV22 2EW United Kingdom | Distance: 16.60km
Visiting Torridon Countryside Centre and Deer Museum

Laide chapel and graveyard and Laide Wood

Chapel Of Sand Of Udrigil
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Roger McLachlan
Just south of Laide, the Laide Wood is an 85 hectare community woodland featuring deep watercourses, two lochans and a beautiful cascading waterfall. There’s an array of wildlife, especially dragonflies and five waymarked trails of varying length. There is some mystery surrounding the origins of Laide Chapel, which sits by the shore, overlooking Gruinard Bay. […]
Visiting Laide chapel and graveyard and Laide Wood

Shieldaig Peninsula and Island

Shieldaig Peninsula
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Mal Grey
The village of Shieldaig is in a superb location and is perhaps best viewed from across the loch on the Applecross coast road. From here the village can be seen sitting below the mighty mountains of Torridon. Shieldaig was established in 1800 as a planned fishing village to encourage families into fishing and to build […]
Visiting Shieldaig Peninsula and Island

Mellon Udrigle Bay

Mellon Udrigle Bay
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Roger McLachlan
With its white sands, shallow turquoise sea and natural shelter from westerly winds this beautiful beach is an ideal place for all the family. But what makes it really special are the views across the sea to Assynt, Coigach and the Summer Isles. The sheltered bay attracts foraging waders, gulls, grey heron and red throated […]
Visiting Mellon Udrigle Bay

Rua Reidh Lighthouse

Rua Reidh Lighthouse
CC BY-SA 2.0 / ms.akr
Rua Reidh Lighthouse stands close to the entrance to Loch Ewe in Wester Ross, Scotland. The name “Rua Reidh” is a semi-anglicisation of “Rubha Rèidh” meaning a flat headland. A lighthouse on Rubh’Re Point was first proposed by David Stevenson in 1853. Building was started by his son, David Alan Stevenson in 1908 and the […]
Visiting Rua Reidh Lighthouse

Corrieshalloch Gorge

Scotland Corrieshalloch Gorge Waterfall
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wojsyl
The sheer-sided spectacle of Corrieshalloch Gorge carries the river Droma down a series of thundering falls, the most dramatic of which is the 45m Fall of Measach (Easan na Miasaich, meaning ‘fall of the place of the platters’. This is a reference to the smooth, rounded boulders, or platters, which occur in the river bed […]
Location: Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve, Braemore, Garve, UK | Distance: 28.10km
Visiting Corrieshalloch Gorge

Rubha Cadail Lighthouse

Rhue Lighthouse
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Michael Walsh
The lighthouse is on the point separating Loch Kanaird and Loch Broom, marking the north side of the entrance to the upper portion of Loch Broom and the harbor of Ullapool. Accessible by a short walk from the village of Rhue, off the A835 highway about 5 km (3 mi) north of Ullapool.
Visiting Rubha Cadail Lighthouse

Lochcarron Village

Village Of Lochcarron
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Trevor Littlewood
This picturesque lochside village provides great opportunities for fishing, walking, climbing and sailing. As soon as you’re off the beaten track on one of the many walking routes in the area, there’s a good chance you’ll catch sight of red squirrels, pine marten, deer, eagles or seals. The narrows at Strome (An Sròm; meaning the […]
Visiting Lochcarron Village

Attadale Gardens

Attadale Gardens
CC BY-SA 2.0 / David Crocker
These spectacular gardens were started in Victorian times and have been lovingly developed over the last 40 years. The varied grounds feature extensive water gardens which extend along the driveway up to the house, Japanese gardens and well-hidden sculptures throughout. This is a place of ever-changing interest, whatever the season. The paths take you through […]
Location: Attadale Gardens, Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron, UK | Hours: Open – April to end October | Website | Distance: 33.10km
Visiting Attadale Gardens

Applecross Heritage Centre & Clachan Church

In Applecross Heritage Centre
CC BY-SA 2.0 / sylvia duckworth
With archaeological remains dating back over 9,000 years, Applecross has a long history of human habitation, and internationally significant connections with the early Christian church. The Irish monk Mael Rubha founded a Christian settlement in Applecross in 673 and for some 120 years there was a thriving monastery here. The surrounding district is known as […]
| Website | Distance: 33.70km
Visiting Applecross Heritage Centre & Clachan Church

Applecross Broch & the Archaeological Trail

Broch Excavations At Applecross
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Colin Park
The Applecross Broch, thought to be Iron Age, has been the site of many archaeological digs over the years. Only the ruins are visible but it remains a fine example of Applecross history. Detailed information, and some of the ‘finds’ can be found in the Heritage Centre. The Broch, along with two restored Hebridean Barns, […]
Visiting Applecross Broch & the Archaeological Trail

Strome Castle

Strome Castle
CC BY-SA 2.0 / David Brown
An easy 4 mile / 6.5km walk or cycle along the single track road from Lochcarron takes you to the ruins of Strome Castle. Perched on a rocky outcrop at the end of Loch Carron, the castle occupied a strategically important position, guarding the north side of the Strome Narrows. It was built in the […]
Visiting Strome Castle

Stac Pollaidh

Stac Pollaidh From Loch Lurgain
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Richard Webb
One of the most popular hills in Scotland to climb, due to its relative ease and spectacular location, the steep slopes of Stac Pollaidh rise from the roadside towards impressive pinnacles. The peak has a rocky crest of Torridonian sandstone, with many pinnacles and steep gullies. These were formed when the ridge was exposed to […]
Visiting Stac Pollaidh

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
CC BY-SA 4.0 / JoachimKohler-HB
Eilean Donan is a small tidal island situated at the confluence of three sea lochs (Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh) in the western Highlands of Scotland. It is connected to the mainland by a footbridge that was installed early in the 20th century and is dominated by a picturesque castle that frequently appears […]
| Hours: 10am-6pm Apr-May & Oct, 9.30am-6pm Jun & Sep, 9am-6pm Jul & Aug, 10am-4pm Nov-Dec & Feb-Mar, closed Jan | Price: adult/child/family £7.50/4/20 | Website | Distance: 46.20km
Visiting Eilean Donan Castle