Scotland // The Highland region //

The west coast

The Highlands’ starkly beautiful west coast – stretching from the Morvern peninsula (opposite Mull) in the south to wind-lashed Cape Wrath in the far north – is arguably the finest part of Scotland. Serrated by fjord-like sea lochs, the long coastline is scattered with windswept white-sand beaches, cliff-girt headlands, and rugged mountains sweeping up from the shoreline. When the sun shines, the sparkle of the sea, the richness of colour and the clarity of the views out to the scattered Hebrides are simply irresistible. This is the least populated part of Britain, with just two small towns, and yawning tracts of moorland and desolate peat bog between crofting settlements.

Lying within easy reach of Inverness, the popular stretch of the coast between Kyle of Lochalsh and Ullapool features the region’s more obvious highlights: the awesome mountainscape of Torridon, Gairloch’s sandy beaches, the famous botanic gardens at Inverewe, and Ullapool itself, a picturesque and bustling fishing town from where ferries leave for the Outer Hebrides. However, press on further north, or south, and you’ll get a truer sense of the isolation that makes the west coast so special. Traversed by few roads, the remote northwest corner of Scotland is wild and bleak, receiving the full force of the North Atlantic’s frequently ferocious weather. The scattered settlements of the far southwest, meanwhile, tend to be more sheltered, but they are separated by some of the most extensive wilderness areas in Britain – lonely peninsulas with evocative Gaelic names like Ardnamurchan, Knoydart and Glenelg.

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