The western seaboard of the old county of Ross-shire, Wester Ross, blends all the classic elements of Scotland’s coastal scenery – dramatic mountains, sandy beaches, whitewashed crofting cottages and shimmering island views – in spectacular fashion. Though popular with generations of adventurous Scottish holiday-makers, only one or two places feel blighted by tourist numbers, with places such as Applecross and the peninsulas north and south of Gairloch maintaining an endearing simplicity and sense of isolation. There’s some tough but wonderful hiking to be enjoyed in the mountains around Torridon and Coigach, while boat trips out among the islands and the prolific sea- and birdlife of the coast are another draw. The main settlement is the attractive fishing town of Ullapool, port for ferry services to Stornoway in the Western Isles, but a pleasant enough place to use as a base, not least for its active social and cultural scene.