As you travel along the NC500, prepare to be mesmerized by Wester Ross. Wester Ross is the western part of Ross and Cromarty and has one of the most scenic places on the NC500.
On this stunning stretch of land in Scotland’s Northwest corner, explore traditional fishing villages and take breathtaking photos with its wild landscapes as your backdrop – creating memories that will last a lifetime.
After leaving Inverness-Shire on the NC500 clockwise route, it won’t be long before you enter the magical Wester Ross.
What is it like to drive in Wester Ross, you ask?
Driving around Wester Ross can be an adventurous experience – think winding, single-track roads and breathtaking mountain passes. Though it may seem daunting to tackle these beautiful but challenging routes, just remember that the locals have been navigating them for years.
Be very aware of your surroundings, though; keep a special eye out for some reminders that you’re in nature’s backyard: red deer, sheep, and lambs all make appearances on those wild NC500 roads.
And if you’ve got a motorhome or larger vehicle, proceed with extra caution when driving through the magnificent yet tricky places like Bealach Na Ba pass.
Lael Forest Garden
In the 1800s, tree hunters went all over the world to find rare seeds, which they then planted in arboreta like this one. Lael Forest Garden also houses rare trees and shrubs as well as champion trees.
After taking in the beauty of Lael Forest Garden, you can take a walk on Gorge Trail. This trail is about one mile walk with a 400M long steep slope with several sets of steps made with mostly firm gravel surface and uneven sections where some tree roots are exposed.
Lael Forest Garden not only offers beautiful arboreta and a walking trail that highlights Corrieshalloch Gorge and its amazing waterfalls, but it also has a car parking and picnic area for people to munch on.
Leckmelm Arboretum was set up in the 1880s, just a few miles from Ullapool.
Many of the trees and rhododendrons there are from that time. Some of these are the Wellingtonia, the Cedar, and the Chilean pine. Some of the trees are the tallest in the world. Leckmelm Arboretum offers a view of decades of dedication.
There is no suggested fee for this garden, but a donation is encouraged for its upkeep.
The history of the areas surrounding Ullapool and Wester Ross will be the focus of a number of exhibitions and installations here at Ullapool Museum.
Through the collections, you can learn about how people have lived, worked, played, and learned in Lochbroom over time. The museum has a large collection of social history items that include things about crofting, the sea, education and learning, and the start of Ullapool.
Notee: Opens in April 2023
Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve
Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve is just a few miles north of Ullapool. Geology was almost invented here, and this is still one of the most important geological sites in the world.
At Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve (NNR), the stories in the rocks come to life, which will give you a promise of a life-changing experience. At Knockan Crag, it’s hard not to get excited about rocks and geology as it is the key to a great story about how continents collided and how science was messed up.
Also, the rocks on Knockan’s low cliff were the talk of the scientific world in the 1800s. The Moine Thrust, as it is called, was made when two continents crashed into each other a million years ago.
There is always something new that will make you think when you visit Knockan Crag. There are beautiful sculptures, moving poetry, and of course, beautiful scenery and a sense of Scotland’s long history and heritage.
The Gairloch Museum is a repurposed nuclear bunker that presents the history, culture, and
the natural heritage of the North West Highlands’ most scenic region.
Gairloch Museum includes original lenses from Rubh Re lighthouse, a replica of the croft house where people used to live, and an interactive gallery of our magnificent natural world.
In addition, the Museum features a charming cafe called Am Bàrd Cafe (open from March 9, 2023) that serves a daily-changing menu in addition to homemade baked goods, assorted teas and coffees, and other beverages. The Cafe caters to all appetites, whether small or large and even those with dietary requirements.
On Wednesdays, the Cafe hosts Winter Warmer sessions where coffee, teas, and soup are available, and payment is through a donation.
Applecross Heritage Centre
The Applecross Historical Society manages the Heritage Centre, which may be found in close proximity to the historic site of St. Maelrubha’s monastery and just across from Clachan Church and the graveyard.
The historic manse and glebe’s outbuilding from the nineteenth century serves as the home of the Applecross History Center. Established in 2003, it was run by the Historical Society and its volunteers. It is a key principle of the Historical Society’s dedication to advancing understanding of regional history and culture.
The centre has exhibits, artefacts, and records that will interest both locals and tourists in learning about the region’s history. By doing this, it aspires to foster an understanding of the community’s distinctiveness and the influence of the past on the present in A’Chomraich, the sanctuary.
Baron Schroder started the Attadale Gardens in the late 1800s. There are hill paths that wind through 20 acres of conifers and rhododendrons, as well as many low-level walks and attractions.
After the storms of 1980, the owner Nicky Macpherson completely changed it into an artist’s garden that frames the stunning views of Skye and the nearby hills.
You can see waterfalls, Monet bridges, meconopsis, bamboo, and candelabra primula in dark pools while the sculpture lurks in unexpected places.
Kinlochewe / Loch Maree
Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve
It’s not surprising that Beinn Eighe was chosen as “Britain’s first National Nature Reserve”, given its collection of mountain peaks, ancient pine forests, secretive crossbills, and soaring golden eagles.
As you approach close, you’ll be astounded by the variety of animals that lives on this reserve. From a distance, the pale scree slopes on the mountainside appear to be arid fields of snow. Take advantage of the trail system nearby, which is suitable for all outdoor activities regardless of the weather.
The woodland (112 km) and mountain (612 km) routes can be accessed from the Coille na Glas Leitir parking lot, which is located on the beaches of Loch Maree. The mountain track presents a more difficult opportunity to experience the mountain environment, while the woodland trail examines the ancient pine forest that clings to the lower slopes.
The Beinn Eighe range, a vast collection of craggy hills, ridges, and slopes between Loch Maree and Glen Torridon, is at the centre of the reserve. This area provides many options for a tough and rewarding day out hiking for the more seasoned and well-prepared hiker.
Rare species of plants thrive in the Inverewe Gardens as the effect of the Gulf Stream meeting the Highlands. This astonishing garden will greet you with wonderful plants at every corner, making this remote coastline a paradise.
Inverewe honours the finest examples of human accomplishments in the natural world. See our heritage garden, which was transformed from a desolate wilderness in the 19th century and has species from all over the world. It’s a feast for the senses and a labour of love that took years to complete.
This environment encourages artistic expression and creativity. In its centre are Inverewe House, a museum with a unique twist, and the Sawyer Gallery, which is close by and organizes exhibitions that highlight the unique qualities of the garden and surrounding area.
Russian Arctic Convoy Museum
The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum is the result of a long-running local effort to build a place to remember the brave people who travelled between Loch Ewe and Russia during the Second World War.
A small group of dedicated volunteers are working arduously to build a network of Arctic Convoy-focused museums along the beaches of Loch Ewe. During
World War II, Loch Ewe was a hub of activity and the starting point for numerous convoys travelling to Russia. Hence, it is only fair that there be a permanent memorial to the brave men and women who braved the icy seas while constantly being threatened by hostile planes and U-boats.
Many structures, gun emplacements, and anti-aircraft batteries from the time of the conflict still exist in the surrounding area.
Note: Russian Arctic Convoy Museum re-opens on 3rd week of April 2023
So where are you planning to go first?
With the various places you can visit in Wester Ross, I doubt you’ll run out of ideas and places to go.
From museums to gardens, Wester Ross has it all for you. Walking trails are also available for people who like to hike and explore nature.
Keep racking your brains and decide which one of these majestic places in Wester Ross you’ll see first!
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