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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold Award

North West Highlands Explorer

A week exploring lochs, beaches and mountains on the western section of the "North Coast 500" driving route.

This holiday is designed for visitors keen to explore the northwest Highlands of Scotland, and a route which follows the first section of the newly designated North Coast 500 driving route.

This area is often overlooked as people head to the islands, but well worth taking the time to enjoy, and boasting some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. As well as three of our hand-picked individual places to stay, we also include lots of suggestions to help you explore off the beaten track.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Apr - Oct

Why not...

add a couple of nights on the Isle of Skye or in Inverness?

Prices From


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Day One – Lochalsh

Your first base is by the tranquil waters of Loch Duich in Lochalsh, around 90 minutes from Inverness. This is  an area of drama, wilderness and spectacular Highland scenery. Life here is unhurried: start your day with a stroll to the shores of the loch gazing at the still reflections and breathing in the pure air.

Your Hotel

Converted from a  former shooting lodge, the hotel stands at the foot of the Five Sisters of Kintail, just off the road and right on the loch shore.  As the only  hotel (and public bar!) for six miles, this welcoming Highland hotel is  an ideal and comfortable base.  You can relax with the locals in the  public bar or retreat to the more discrete atmosphere of the residents’ lounge, in front of a crackling open fire. A good selection of  home-cooked food – with local sourcing a particular focus – is served  both in the bar or, accompanied by fine loch views, in the conservatory restaurant. Don’t miss the black pudding at breakfast – we think it’s Scotland’s finest.

Day Two

There’s plenty to do, but no need to do it in a rush. Explore the short and dramatic coastal road to Glenelg and Sandaig – with its associations with Gavin Maxwell (author of Ring of Bright Water).  Eilean Donan Castle  – Scotland’s most photographed and arguably most romantic – is just 10 minutes’ drive from your hotel so you can easily avoid the crowds by  visiting early or late in the day.  The Isle of Skye makes for a perfect day trip – using the nearby bridge as well as the wonderful and historic Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry.

Day Three – Torridon

Your next destination is in one of the most scenically beautiful and secluded locations in the whole of Scotland, less than two hours’ drive up the west coast, in the wild and rugged area of Wester Ross.  Your route today could include the famous Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) with its series of exhilarating hairpin bends.

Your Hotel

This small, family-run Inn makes a picture-perfect base for exploring the dramatic west coast with its abundance of lochs, forests, mountains and rivers. The grandeur of the surrounding mountains forms a stunning backdrop to your hotel, which nestles in the crescent-shaped village high street.  Converted from a row of white-washed fishing cottages, the hotel overlooks an idyllic loch which reflects a tiny island covered in Scots Pines.  Two snug lounges both feature glorious views over the peaceful loch, and offer visitors the chance to idle away an afternoon watching the occasional boat come and go, and maybe enjoy a wee dram from the honesty bar in the corner.  If you’re lucky you could even be treated to one of the west coast’s spectacular sunsets.

Day Four & Five – Exploring Torridon

The picturesque village was originally built in 1810 to house and train sailors for the Napoleonic wars, but following Waterloo, it was left to its’ own devices. Once, quite literally, the end of the road north, the village has retained that other-worldly ‘Brigadoon’ feel and offers an overwhelming atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.  This area is right off the beaten track and completely unspoilt; it’s perfectly possible to walk all day without seeing another soul, should you so wish.  Photographic opportunities are limitless.   The mild climate in this part of Scotland is due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream and this encourages a wide diversity of plant and wildlife – witness the famous National Trust gardens at nearby Inverewe.  Scots Pines are a real feature and are extremely important for national and international conservation.  Whilst you’re here you may be lucky enough to spot a Pine Marten or a Golden Eagle – or maybe even a Peregrine Falcon.  Walkers will enjoy the many opportunities available at the nearby Benn Eighe Nature Reserve, and its visitor centre offers many woodland walks and mountain trails.

Day Six – to Drumbeg

Your tour continues further up the coast, past Ullapool, to a small village in a truly hidden corner of the Highlands and a small hotel tucked away by a loch shore.

Your Hotel

Imagine meandering miles along a narrow and twisty country road, then arriving at a tiny lodge sitting in its own sheltered and secluded world of native woodland on the banks a tranquil loch.   This is a heart-stoppingly beautiful corner of the North West Highlands.  This dream retreat offers guests a unique and enriching experience far from the clatter of the world.  The creativity and artistry of the talented owners are noticeable throughout the building, which has been lovingly restored with a modern and welcoming twist.

A wonderful 5 course dinner is included both nights you are here.

Day Seven – Exploring

A day to relax and explore this peaceful corner set in some of the most stunning, unspoilt scenery in the world.  The magnificent sea lochs of Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom are nearby and the Assynt countryside, with its’ breathtaking mountains and coastal rock formations spanning some 3000 million years of history, are within easy reach including the Old Man of Stoer sea stack on the coast near Lochinver.  By contrast, a visit to the Hydroponicum at Achiltibuie exhibits an unusual soil-free garden of the future; this is also a jumping off point for a cruise around the Summer Isles, where you may spot seals and porpoises on your trip.

Day Eight – Return home

Inverness is just over two hours’ drive


Map Northwest-Highland-Exp

Three centres in the Northwest Highlands, from Lochalsh to Torridon and finally the west of Sutherland.


£725 per person for April & October, £885 per person for May, £915 per person for June to September.

Prices based on 2 adults sharing a room, for 7 nights, with 5 on a bed & breakfast basis, and 2 with dinner included (at Drumbeg).

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Check availability for North West Highlands Explorer

This holiday is available from April to October

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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