A circular trip from Inverness going northwest towards Ullapool
then south along the coast, visiting Inverewe Garden and Gairloch, before heading
back alongside beautiful Loch Maree and Strath Braan.
the A9 northwards from Inverness, crossing the spectacular Kessock Bridge with
wonderful views towards the hills of Glen Affric. Keep on the A9 to the roundabout
at Tore, where the A835 road goes off left towards Ullapool. Along this stretch
of road you have a good chance of seeing red kites (easily identified by their
size and forked tails) wheeling overhead. Keep straight on at the junction just
past Garve and enjoy the magnificent wild scenery up to Braemore junction. At
this point you can go on to Ullapool, originally a little fishing village at
the entrance to Loch Broom, or turn left to the coast and follow the road to
Inverewe and its famous gardens. On this part of the west coast, amongst the
mountains, you have the most chance of seeing a golden eagle soaring overhead.
Look for the large size, especially large wings with feathered tips at the ends
of the wings, and the way they wheel overhead, moving long distances very quickly
with very little wing movement. Buzzards, which are much more frequent, are
smaller and tend to be in more wooded areas than eagles inhabit.
Garden is cared for by the National Trust for Scotland and is beautifully set
on the shores of Loch Ewe. Plants from all over the world flourish there with
the benign effects of the Gulf Stream and it is a fabulous place to wander in
for at least a couple of hours. The most spectacular time of the year is probably
May when the huge rhododendrons and azaleas are in full flower but these are
followed by all sorts of other plants throughout the year. The blue meconopsis
or himalayan poppies are usually out at the beginning of June. Apart from the
planting and wonderful flowers, the garden is full of birds and the pond areas
attract some beautiful dragon flies.
Inverewe, continue south to Gairloch and, if time allows, take the road to the
right (with fantastic views to the Torridon mountains) towards Big Sand where
you can walk through a gate in the wall and down through the field to the wonderful
beach. Did you ever see a beach with such a view? - over the sea to the mountains
This view is of the Torridons from the road to Shieldaig
Gairloch the road turns inland back to Inverness, running alongside the fantastically
beautiful Loch Maree, dominated by the mountain Slioch (the Spear) on the opposite
side of the loch and through the little village of Kinlochewe, past Loch a'
Chroisaig and through the lonely Strath Bran before rejoining the A835 back
to Inverness. Strath Bran is the place to spot red deer, often in quite large
groups, down by the river at a distance from the road. Just keep looking!
This is a full day out with several hours driving but worth
it for the wonderful scenery and fabulous views. It could be divided quite easily
into two separate day trips, taking in Torridon on the second day, as there
is lots to see and only a small part would cover the same ground.