North Coast 500
Torridon is a highlight on the Wester Ross section of the renowned North Coast 500 tour of Scotland’s northern regions. But instead of treating this stunning area as a whistlestop drive-through experience, why not use it as a base to explore more of what’s on offer. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s hiking through wilderness scenery, the thrills of the Bealach na Ba, the UK’s most steeply ascending road, or fine dining by the loch.
Leac a Ghradain is wonderfully situated for walks ranging from gentle coastal strolls to hikes up the formidable crags of some of the most famous Munros. Beinn Alligin, Liathach, Beinn Eighe and Slioch are just a few of the glorious peaks within easy reach. Route planning details are available in excellent guide books on sale locally and at Walk Highlands. Some paths are suitable for mountain bikes.
A number of local firms offer organised and guided adventures, including Torridon Activities, Torridon Sailing Tours and Shieldaig Outdoor Adventures. Additional activites are listed on the Visit Torridon website. Book ahead if you are coming in the busier months.
Bird watching and wildlife
More than 50 species of birds have been recorded from the house and garden. The Torridon area is also home to a wide array of plant and animal life, including deer, newly reintroduced red squirrels, eagles, pine martens and otters. There is a National Trust of Scotland countryside centre at the turn-off for Torridon (open April - September) and the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve has wildlife trails and visitor information (open March to October).
The area offers unlimited potential for photography enthusiasts, from mountain vistas and seascapes to exquisite wild flowers. For inspiration and to buy prints, check out Steve Carter and the Applecross Photographic Gallery, with the latter also offering workshops and courses.
Loch Torridon Community Centre
A wealth of visitor information and friendly advice is available at the local Community Centre in Torridon village and on its website’s Visitor page. The Centre also showcases and sells paintings, prints and arts & crafts produced by many of the talented individuals living in this area of the west coast. The Thursday market (10am to 3pm) is held here from 18 April to October with craft and food stalls as well as a cafe.
The Torridon area is well served by shops. In Torridon village, Jo runs the lovely Torridon Stores and Café, offering delicious cakes and lunches as well as a range of groceries, maps and guidebooks, and general items. You can also order a box of groceries for collection on your way through when arriving at Leac a Ghradain.
Shieldaig village is home to a general store and the Loch Torridon Smokehouse, which produces its own hot and cold smoked salmon. Kenneth Morrison operates a mobile butcher shop - call to confirm details of his local stops.
Further afield is the Lochcarron Food Centre, with a good range of food and an upstairs room stocking general household items. Lochcarron Weavers on the road out towards Strome has a terrific range of tartan items.
To the north in Gairloch there are a number of grocery stores and restaurants. The Farm and Garden Store is a hardware shop with some fresh produce and the GALE visitor centre next door has a nice café, maps and guidebooks, locals arts and crafts and a gift shop.
There are numerous opportunities to eat out in Torridon and the surrounding villages, with restaurants and cafes serving wonderful local produce from the land and the sea. As already mentioned, Torridon Stores and Café is a charming stopover for lunch or a snack. In the other direction from the house is the popular Gille Brighde restaurant in Lower Diabaig, also reachable on foot in around three hours along the coastal path (take a map and check the restaurant is open before you set off).
The luxury Torridon Resort has gourmet dining in the 1887 restaurant, afternoon tea at the Hotel, and pub meals at the less formal Torridon Inn.
In Shieldaig you will find Nanny's Café, the Bar and Coastal Kitchen and the Tigh an Eilean hotel restaurant. Travel further along the road to Lochcarron and at the turnoff to the Bealach na Ba is the Bealach Café and Gallery, with tasty snacks and an extensive exhibition of arts and crafts for sale by local artists. The Kishorn Seafood Bar is a few miles further down the road, while in Lochcarron there are a number of options including the Lochcarron Bistro.
If you make for Applecross, either over the pass or along the gentler coastal road, there is the famous Applecross Inn by the quayside (with a takeaway Inn-Side Out van offering fish and chips in the warmer months). On the edge of the village is Applecross Walled Garden’s Potting Shed Café and Restaurant.
*** Please note that most outlets operate seasonal opening hours so it’s always worth checking the website or phoning before making a special journey. ***