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NORTHERN EXPOSURE Follow the road around the coast, and you find MEET OUR STAFF Mat


TORRIDON HOSTEL


yourself travelling around one of the most remote peninsulas in the Highlands. Te road itself is relatively flat, but more than enough interest is provided by the endless stream of views across to Raasay, Skye and Rona. Te area boasts a large sandy beach, sand dune, and shallow sandy bay that will give the kids a good run around. Te beach was home to the first TV series of ‘Monty Hall’s Great Escape’. Tere are also the ruined remains of several settlements to be seen - a poignant reminder of the more recent history of the Highlands. Tis is single track road all the way to Shieldaig,


Mat has worked for the hostel network for more than five years and is well known for his passion for walking up hills - be they big or small hills, he’ll climb them! Torridon Hostel is open March to October and winter weekends.


an attractive village located just off the main road with a hotel, shops and delightful peninsula walk. Te road broadens out to a double road once more and follows the coast along the south shore of Loch Torridon, with several fantastic stopping places looking across to Torridon village on the north shore.


HERE


we stop for our first night at Torridon Youth Hostel, just after


the National Trust for Scotland’s visitor centre. Te Youth Hostel is purpose-built, spacious and recently refurbished in many areas. With fantastic views from the lounges and high and low-level walks on the doorstep, one night here certainly won’t be enough. Read previous guest comments and research all the things to do when staying here at our website at www.hostellingscotland.com Along the main road to Kinlochewe – still on the


and has been described as the closest thing in this country to an Alpine pass. From its summit you can see many of the Hebridean Islands – Skye, Rona, Raasay, Rum, Harris, Lewis and more (on a clear day!). At the top, there is also the possibility of an easy walk up to a radio mast, which must be one of the most exposed and remote locations in the country. Te views inland from here are particularly spectacular. Applecross itself was one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Scotland, and is a tranquil village providing a contrast to the scenery you have just come through to get there. Applecross village, with its permanent population of just 250 people, has modern tourist facilities (including the highly-recommended Applecross Inn), yet has managed to maintain its old-world charm where visitors really feel part of village life.


Ferry to Stornoway


Lochinver Achininver


Ullapool


Gairloch Loch Maree


Loch Torridon Shieldalg Applecross


Kyle of Lochalsh


Torridon Lochcarron


Coastal Trail – the only thing you have to look out for is keeping your eyes on the road ahead, because all the way along this road you are passing below the towering ramparts of Liathach, then the long ridge of Beinn Eighe. Particularly in the case of Liathach, these mountains seem to rise almost vertically from the road, ending up 3,456 feet above you. Much of this area is a National Nature Reserve, with the National Trust for Scotland looking after much of the Torridon end of the glen, and Scottish Natural Heritage bordering on to this with the Beinn Eighe reserve – lauded as one of the finest in both Scotland, Europe and, indeed, the world. At Kinlochewe, turn towards Gairloch – the ancient Scots Pines cover the hillsides on your left, forming part of the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. Tis is one of the rare surviving fragments of the ‘Great Wood of Caledon’ that once clothed much of the Highlands. Te reserve has several rare species of plants and animals, and is of geological interest as well. A visit to the reserve’s visitor centre is a must; it


offers walks to suit all abilities and a fascinating exhibition


which explains the natural history of the region. Past the centre, you are


following the shore of Loch Maree, one of the most beautiful lochs in the Highlands, with the mass of Slioch filling much of the skyline on the eastern shore.


2012 SCOTTISH HOSTELLER 25


TRIP THE OF A LIFETIME


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