Gairloch is a straggling community along the west coast of Ross and Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands. The land is hilly and farming isn’t very productive, but creel fishing for shellfish is a traditional occupation.
From the south, travel via Inverness then north up A835 towards Ullapool, branching off at Garve for A832 past Loch Maree (sic). This road continues north beyond Gairloch, passing Loch Ewe (with Inverewe Gardens) and Little Loch Broom to rejoin A835 at Corrieshalloch. There’s a steep hill along the way, not recommended if you’re towing a caravan.
Westerbus 700 runs once a day (M-Sat) from Gairloch around 08:00 via Achnasheen, Strathpeffer and Dingwall to Inverness, taking 2 hr 30 min, and returning to Gairloch around 17:00. Bus 711 sets off around 09:00 and goes as far as Dingwall (which has a railway station), returning at 13:00.
You need a car. There’s no local public transport except a school bus: Westerbus 705 runs once on schooldays from Torridon at 07:30 to Gairloch and returns at 15:30.
- The scenic coastline and beaches – even right by the harbour, you’ll see seals and perhaps even minke whales. To the south is Badachro and Red Point, to the north is Melvaig (and see lighthouse entry below).
- 1 Gairloch Heritage Museum, Achtercairn House, Gairloch IV21 2BP (village centre). Apr-Oct M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-15:00. Gairloch through the ages: stone axes, Picts, crofts, fishing, lighthouses and whisky. Adults £4. (updated Feb 2019)
- 1 Inverewe Garden, Poolewe IV22 2LG (on A832 five miles north of Gairloch). Daily 09:00-17:00 or dusk if sooner. Botanical garden, which a 19th C enthusiast intended just as a windbreak, then his mania for collecting exotic plants got out of hand . . . early seasons take colour from the rhododendrons and Erythroniums. In summer the walled gardens and borders are the highlight. Adult £11.
(updated Feb 2019)