Gairloch consists of a string of tiny crofting townships scattered around the northeastern shore of the loch of the same name.
It's a great place which attracts a large number of visitors who come for the many beautiful beaches, excellent walks, golf and fishing, and the chance of seeing seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales in the surrounding waters.
Local Sights & Activities for GairlochSightseeing
If the weather's bad (as it sometimes can be) or if you're interested in local history, then visit the Gairloch Heritage Museum, which is beside the tourist office on the A832 to Poolewe, a few yards beyond the turn-off to Strath. Included are archaeological finds, a mock-up of a crofthouse room, schoolroom and shop, the interior of the local lighthouse and an archive of old photographs. Info - Apr-mid-Oct Mon-Sat 1000-1700. £2.50, concession £2, children £0.50. Tel. 712287.
The waters around Gairloch are home to a wide variety of marine mammals such as seals, otters, porpoises, dolphins, minke whales and even killer whales. You can take a wildlife-spotting cruise with Sail Gairloch, Tel. 712636. The cruise lasts two hours and leaves daily from Gairloch Pier (subject to weather conditions). It can be booked at the Gairloch Marine Life Centre by the pier.
The most sucessful Whale watching boats are run by Hebridean Whale Cruises who specialise on the offshore feeding grounds and are the only way to the magnificent Shiant Islands from mainland Scotland. Info and bookings Tel. 712458. For information on sea angling trips, contact the chandlery shop at the harbour, Tel. 712458. For those who prefer dry land, try a quad bike tour of the Flowerdale Deer Forest with Highland Trails. Book at The Anchorage post office/craft shop at the harbour or at Flowerdale estate office, Tel. 712378.
Pony Trekking in the beautiful Flowerdale Glen can be arranged by phoning 712652.
There are shops and takeaways in Strath and Auchtercairn, a petrol station in Auchtercairn, and a bank with ATM near the harbour at Charleston.
Gairloch Hotels & Accommodation
The Old Inn at Gairloch is a traditional Inn serving excellent beer and food. Late Rooms Availability for Old Inn in Gairloch
There are numerous cheaper B&Bs scattered throughout the area. Most of the owners will provide maps and information on local walks. On the main street in Strath, near the shops, is Bains House, Tel. 712472, which is friendly and great value. On the road that turns off to the right by the Millcroft Hotel, beyond the fire station, is Duisary, Tel. 712252, open Apr-Oct. In Charleston, by the harbour, is Mrs A MacIver, Tel. 712388, open Feb-Nov.
There are a couple of hostels in Gairloch: Auchtercairn Hostel, Tel. 712131, open Mar-Nov, is at Gairloch Sands Apartments, just before the turn-off to Strath; 3 miles beyond Gairloch, on the road to Melvaig, isCarn Dearg Youth Hostel, Tel. 712219, open 15 May-3 Oct.
There are a couple of campsites: Gairloch Caravan & Camping Park, Tel. 712373, is at Strath, with full facilities and close to all amenities; Sands Holiday Centre, Tel. 712152, open Easter-Oct, is at Big Sand, about a mile beyond Strath.
The Myrtle Bank Hotel (see above) serves very good, expensive, meals, and its bar lunches are good value. The Scottish Seafood Restaurant, Tel. 712137, next to Gairloch filling station, is good for seafood at mid-range prices (unlicensed).
The Mountain Restaurant, Strath Sq, Tel. 712316, has a terrace overlooking Gair Loch. It is run by mountaineers and offers an interesting menu, as well as accommodation in several themed rooms.
There's also The Steading Restaurant, Tel. 712449, next to the Heritage Museum, which is open daily 0930-2100. For a lite bite, or tea and scones, try the Conservatory Coffee Shop, on the square in Strath. For cheap pasta, there's Gino's Italian Restaurant at the friendly Millcroft Hotel in Strath, Tel. 712376. The best place for a good pint of real ale and some hearty pub grub is The Old Inn, Tel. 712006, near the harbour.
Travel Directions to Gairloch
The Tourist Information Centre, Tel. 712130, is at the car park in Auchtercairn, where the road branches off to Strath. They will book accommodation for you and sell a wide range of books and maps. There are shops and takeaways in Strath and Auchtercairn, a petrol station in Auchtercairn, and a bank near the harbour at Charleston. Jan-Mar, Nov and Dec Mon-Thu 0900-1230 and 1300-1700, Fri 0900-1230 and 1300-1630; Apr and May, Sep and Oct Mon-Sat 0900-1730, Sun 1300-1800; Jun-Aug Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 1000-1800, Sun 1300-1800
There's a bus from Inverness to Gairloch 3 times a week (Mon, Wed and Sat) at 1705 with Westerbus, Tel. 712255. The return bus is at 0805. Westerbus also have services to Kinlochewe (Mon-Sat at 0730) and to Mellon Charles/Laide, via Poolewe (Mon-Sat). There's a Melvaig-Gairloch-Red Point postbus service Mon-Sat which leaves Gairloch at 0820 heading north to Melvaig and leaves Gairloch heading south to Red Point at 1035. On Fri only there's a subsidized taxi service between Gairloch and Melvaig 1030-1230 (to book Tel. 712559/712497).