The spectacular mountain scenery of Torridon is home to 5 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) and is formed by Torridonian red sandstone which dates back 750 million years. Wester Ross is of one of 40 National Scenic Areas (NSAs) in Scotland with its variety of sandy beaches, coastal inlets, lochs and mountains. It now features on the North Coast 500 - one of Britain's most scenic driving routes.
There are visitor centres and a great variety of walks, on well marked tracks and over wild mountains. Experienced hill walkers can enjoy the mountains of Torridon, Applecross and Wester Ross including Liathach, Beinn Eighe, Slioch and An Teallach. There are also many lower level easier walks including coastal paths.
The Torridon area itself is part of the National Trust for Scotland's National Nature Reserve. By Torridon village there is a Countryside Centre which is open from 25 March to 30 September (Sunday to Friday from 10am to 5pm), as well as a Deer Enclosure and Deer Museum (both unstaffed) which are open all year.
From the wildlife hide near the shore you might spot oystercatchers, sandpipers, mallard ducks and ringed plovers. There are walking trails for all abilities (download PDF leaflet with map).
The Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve was set up in 1951 and covers a wide area between Loch Maree and Glen Torridon. Owned by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Visitor Centre near Kinlochewe is open from Easter to October. It provides information about the local wildlife, geology and walking trails. There are mountain trails for the adventurous and woodland trails as well. These take you through the remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest. You can download a variety of publications including leaflets about Beinn Eighe and its walking trails.
The ecosystems of these lochs and mountains change throughout the seasons. Wildlife watching can include glimpses of golden eagles, pine martens, red squirrels, deer and otters. Sea eagles can be viewed from a live webcam at the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre.
Local photographer Gordon C Harrison has collected information about the origins of Gaelic place names of Wester Ross which can sometimes help us to understand how the landscape has been populated and cultivated by people over the centuries.
The pretty village of Shieldaig is just 6 miles south of Struan Cottage and Torridon Sea Tours will take you on a loch cruise to spot wildlife or see the sunset over the water.
From here you can drive around the Applecross peninsula via the famous Bealach na Ba mountain pass which rises from sea level up to 626 metres (2054 feet) with stunning views of Skye from the top.
For a handy guide to the area, download the PDF brochure entitled: Explore Wester Ross for a day and this will give you ideas for several days out!
To the north, Gairloch has a golf course, beach, heritage museum, craft shops, bank, etc.
Boat trips from there can show you dolphins, whales, porpoise, sharks and sea birds. Cruises are possible to the Shiant Isles from Gairloch or to the Summer Isles from Ullapool. Sea angling, fishing, kayaking and pony trekking are just some of the other activities on offer in the region.
The ferry port of Ullapool has a variety of shops and pubs for a rainy day. Nearby you can see the Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach.
Torridon is brilliant for mountain biking and has won MBR Magazine's best Trail of the Year for several years.
The descent to Annat from Maol Chean Dearg has been described as one of the best downhill singletrack trails in Scotland.
Check out this inspiring video of the descent.
If you have the stamina, you can also cycle up the Bealach na Ba (pass to Applecross).
There are various local events throughout the year. Major highlights include Ullapool Book Festival (May), Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon around Torridon (June), Highland Games (July) in Gairloch, Lochcarron and Applecross, as well as the Shieldaig Fete (August). October includes the Torridon Mountain & Sea Festival plus the Ullapool guitar festival.
Throughout the summer season, local crafts & produce are sold at markets in Poolewe village hall every Tuesday 10am - 2.30pm. Lochcarron crafts and produce markets are held monthly during the summer on the last Friday of the month.
Warmed by the Gulfstream, the climate of this part of the west coast is so mild that tropical plants can grow. World-famous Inverewe Garden sits on the shores of Loch Ewe and is open all year. Founded by Sir Osgood Mackenzie in 1862, it is now run by the National Trust for Scotland as one of the most popular botanical attractions in the country. There are a variety of trails and viewpoints, with frequent free guided tours. There is a gift shop and self-service restaurant. Check out the Inverewe Youtube channel for videos.
Another hidden gem is Attadale Gardens (about 6 miles from Lochcarron on the A890). Open from Easter to the end October (closed on Sundays). There's much to see including acres of rhododendrons, exotic plants and rare trees, as well as sculptures, water gardens, herb garden, Japanese garden and a fern collection in a geodesic dome.
The Highlands have been inspiring artists and writers for generations. The South West Ross Arts & Eats Trail highlights many of the individual entreprises in our area. Handmade in Wester Ross showcases some of the creativity inspired by the landscape including crafts, artwork, jewellery, ceramics, candles, photography, knitwear, soaps and soft furnishings. There are plenty of galleries and wee shops to visit.
For fine ales and good food, we can recommend the Torridon Inn and Hotel, just 10 minutes walk from Struan Cottage cottage. It has a beer festival every October.
In the village of Torridon itself, you will find a well stocked shop and licensed cafe with home cooked food and cakes.
Shieldaig (6 miles away) has a good pub/restaurant, coffee shop, grocery shop and smokehouse selling seafood.
At Diabaig on Loch Torridon, be sure to visit the Gillie Brighde cafe and restaurant.
If visiting Applecross, be sure to try the multi award-winning pub.
As well as some spectacular sunsets and sunrises, you may even spot the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The ever-changing light of the west coast is another reason why we're sure you'll enjoy the North Highlands.
www.struancottage-torridon.co.uk © 2016 Eleanor Harris and The Internet Guide to Scotland
Photos on this page copyright Eleanor Harris / The Internet Guide to Scotland, except:
top of page Loch Torridon © David Head - Dreamstime.com
Loch Maree & Slioch © David Woods - Dreamstime.com
Red Deer © JAC - Fotolia.com
Ben Alligin © Duncan Andison - Fotolia.com
Shieldaig © Frank Elter - Fotolia.com