On the north shore of Loch Broom stands the still important fishing village of Ullapool. Now Russian factory ships or 'Klondiker's' congest the sheltered loch. Sea fishing and boat trips to the Summer Isles are popular from here and ferries to Stornoway, on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, leave regularly. The local museum has gathered evidence of life in Wester Ross over the centuries.
Corrieshalloch Gorge, 12 miles (19km) south-east of Ullapool on the A835 near Braemore is a dramatic ravine 1 mile long and 200ft (61m) deep. It contains the Falls of Measach which drop 150ft (46m). There is a suspension bridge from which to acquire a safe and spectacular view.
The A835 continues back towards Dingwall and Inverness but it is possible to branch west on the A832 past Little Loch Broom to the spectacular Gruinard Bay. Gruinard Island was infected with anthrax during World War II but is now decontaminated and returned to its former owner.
The coast road west
Following the A832, the popular Inverewe Gardens just outside the village of Poolewe is a northern outpost for touring coach parties. There are some 2,500 species including palm trees, Himalayan lilies and giant forget-me-nots from the South Pacific all growing at the same latitude as Siberia. The reason for this flowering profusion, besides the care taken by the National Trust for Scotland who now run the gardens, is the warm waters of the Gulf Stream that bathe so much of Scotland's west coast.
The holiday village of Gairloch is only about 7 miles (11km) away. Unaffected by the Clearances, Gairloch held on to west Highland life until the tourist invasion. The Gairloch Heritage Museum gives a good insight into the times before holiday homes. There is an exceptional café and gift/book shop in the main square.
The road through the village leads to Big Sand, an excellent camp-site if you like dramatic views over to the Torridon range and miles of smooth beach. Gairloch Golf Club is an excellent 9-hole course with a dramatic Par 5,8th/17th that could easily be one of the best in the country.
The road down to Kinlochewe is blessedly straight
and fast compared to those further north with views over one of Scotland's prettiest
stretches of water, Loch Maree with the dramatic mountain backdrop of Slioch (3215
feet). At the village of Kinlochewe, it is time for more single track roads unless
you wish to opt out and return to Inverness. You will be missing, of course, some
of the most dramatic of the north-west's panoramas.
Thursday, December 26th, 2019
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