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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

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 recently 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

Mar - Oct

Why not...

continue your tour to Caithness?

Prices From


No of Nights


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Office Hours (UK time) Mon-Fri: 9.00-18.30
Sat: 9.30-16.30

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Day One – Lochalsh

Your first base is in the picturesque Highland village of Plockton, on the shores of Loch Carron, around two hours’ drive from Inverness. Made famous in the 1990s as location for the BBC’s Hamish Macbeth, life in Plockton is decidedly unhurried: start your day with a gentle stroll to the edge of the loch amidst palm trees and the clearest Highland air.

Your Hotel

Set right on the shorefront and at the heart of the community in Plockton, your hotel has been run with a smile by the same family for over 20 years. Simple, unpretentious, comfortable rooms ensure a good night’s rest before a terrific Scottish breakfast sets you up for a day’s exploring this most peaceful yet dramatic location. The hotel features a good restaurant as well as a traditional Scottish bar where the locals rub shoulders with visitors, and where live traditional music can be enjoyed on most evenings.

Day Two

There’s plenty to do, but no need to do it in a rush. Explore the dramatic coastal road around Loch Carron, towards Attadale where garden lovers shouldn’t miss its award-winning gardens, featuring some 20 acres of water gardens, rare species, sculptures, and fern collection housed in an impressive geodesic dome.  Eilean Donan Castle – Scotland’s most photographed and, arguably, most romantic – is just 20 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 Sutherland

Your tour continues further up the coast, following the North Coast 500 route past Ullapool, to a hidden corner of the Highlands and a small hotel tucked away overlooking the most picturesque bay.

Your Hotel

Set back from the road, surrounded by its own ancient woodland, amidst some of the oldest geological features in Europe, this recently refurbished small hotel has been transformed by its new owners in to a perfect getaway.

In this heart-stoppingly beautiful wilderness of the North West Highlands, relax on the lawn with a glass of something special, enjoying an uninterrupted view of Badcall Bay, its islets and skerries, and to the Isle of Lewis in the distance. Many original features of this 18th-century former manse have been retained, while guests can enjoy modern convenience and comfort throughout.

The in-house restaurant serves an appealing Scottish menu with a Nordic twist, majoring on the very best local, seasonal produce.

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 bays of Badcall and Scourie are nearby, while boat trips are available from nearby Tarbet to the Scottish Wildlife Trust island of Handa, featuring seabirds, seal, dolphin, porpoise, basking shark and even the occasional passing orca.  Lochs Laxford and Inchard are just a little further north each presenting coastal rock formations spanning some 3000 million years of history.

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.


£625 per person for March, £645 per person in April & October, and £675 per person for May to September.

Price is based on two adults sharing a room, for seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis.

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.

Along the North Coast 500 (Part 1)

Along the North Coast 500 (Part 1)

Drive the North Coast 500, Scotland’s acclaimed 516-mile touring route around some of the country’s remotest parts, and chances are you’ll end u...

Check availability for North West Highlands Explorer

This holiday is available from March to October.

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