links to further information

About the area :

Local Walks
Local Information
Torridon Seatours
Suggested Day Trips
Commonly Seen Birds
The Highland Midge
The Pine Marten
Shieldaig Sea Trout Project
Woodland Management
Arts & Crafts in the area
Loch Torridon Smokehouse
Driving in the area
...and some of the roads
Nanny's shop
Info on the Aurora Borealis
Applecross and its Hinterland
The Torridon Hotel & Inn
Yoga
The Kishorn Kitchen
Applecross Smokehouse
The Shieldaig Field Station

 

Latest Photos

Steve's daily photo blog

Order photographs online

Highland/Island beaches
Some local faces
Some peat bog flora
Colonsay Cottage Garden
Timelapse summer solstice

Pine Marten video

Slideshow (It'll autorun)
Photos from the Hebrides

Other stuff :

Charity Info & Screen Saver
The travels of TransporTed

External Links

Top news stories from the Highlands
Tornapress Furniture
The 'Celtman' homepage
Sign the Fair Fuel pettion
The Sqint!

This page is available in Gaelic ~ link here

 

 

 

The Torridon area of the Western Highlands (consisting of Loch Torridon and the smaller Loch Shieldaig) is situated on the west coast of Scotland, in Wester Ross.

The area is well known to climbers, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, and countless visitors from around the world, for what is considered to be some of the finest scenery in Europe.

The mountains (Liathach, Beinn Alligin, Sgorr Ruadh, Maol Chean-deargare) are very nearly the highest in Britain, rising in places almost vertically to 3500 feet from the deep sea lochs.

Many visitors to the area remark upon the unusual atmosphere - it is truly one of the world's rarest and special places.

Scroll down to read all about Torridon & Shieldaig, or click on the links on the left to find out more.

View the Latest Photos from the area

~ Loch Torridon in May 2010 ~

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Torridon is 110 miles north of Fort William and 80 miles west of Inverness. The climate on the coast is surprisingly mild (given its northerly position) due to the influence of the Gulf stream. This has a huge effect on the area. Pampas grass and palm trees grow in an area that is as northerly as Oslo.

~ above, Shieldaig village in Spring ~

Being so remote, due to an ever declining population, and due to a climate that is, shall we say, often rather wet, the area is one of the finest to view rare wildlife, and to find some solitude whilst walking in the hills. It is still possible to walk all day without meeting another human - quite a feat on this crowded isle. As for the weather, well, as a confirmed walker once said: 'There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing'.

The hills of Torridon are the oldest in Europe. Rock visible in the Torridon area is between 2600 and 3000 million years old - that predates life itself. Volcanic outpourings, massive climate changes, movement of the earth's crust, erosion, forestation, and finally the influence of mankind have all played their part in the scene that we view today. The landscape is in a permanent state of change and not, as we sometimes think, here forever.

~ The Torridon hills as seen from near Ardheslaig ~

 

The layer of 'Torridonian Sandstone' which settled on the ancient rock and now makes up the bulk of the mountains that surround the area is actually rising at present, and has risen by about 70 metres since the end of the Ice Age when sea levels separated Britain from mainland Europe.

~ Torridon seen from satellite ~

The vast tracts of Scots pine trees which spread and covered more than half the land mass have receded to a few acres on the banks of Upper Loch Torridon, and the wildlife that has survived, or indeed come to flourish in the area is uniquely suited to an environment that keeps most humans away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Glen Torridon on a still May morning ~

The lochs, forests and hills support a massive range of wildlife.

Visiting Torridon

The road through Torridon village, takes you first past a beautifully situated village on the shores of Loch Torridon - Inver Alligin. In the past, illicit whisky distilling and smuggling were commonplace in Alligin. A naturally camouflaged cleft in the rock known as the Smuggler's Cave concealed any illegal activities from the attentions of the excisemen across the loch in Shieldaig.

The road continues westward, providing stunning views across Loch Torridon as well as views over the Isle of Skye, eventually grinding to a delightful halt in the charming fishing village of Diabaig, with its scattered hillside crofts, sheltered harbour and salmon farm. The village was used as a filming location for the Hollywood movie 'Loch Ness' - which is worth watching solely for the scenery (Ed.).

~ Looking towards Skye on the road to Diabaig ~

If you visit, be sure to call into the Torridon Countryside Centre, situated at the head of Loch Torridon. It contains lots of useful information on the area, its wildlife, and any local events that are forthcoming (like the boat race round Shieldaig island!)

Travelling east up Glen Torridon, (which follows the river A' Ghairbhe some 15 miles from the shores of Loch Torridon to Kinlochewe), one passes both the beautiful Coulin Estate and the Beinn Eighe nature reserve (which is the largest in Britain, covering over 10,000 acres - stretching from loch to mountain top).

An excellent track runs south from Glen Torridon, past Loch Clair, Loch Coulin, and eventually into Strathcarron. It is a right of way due to a legal battle in the 1930's. Originally cut for the use of the proprietor of Coulin Lodge to gain access to the railway in Glen Carron, it offers a beautiful walk through empty country, with Carn Breac on one side and Beinn Liath Mhor on the other. As you leave Glen Torridon, take a moment to glance back at the superb view of Beinn Eighe over Loch Clair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking over Loch Clair to Beinn Eighe

Loch Torridon splits into two sea lochs, Upper Loch Torridon and Loch Shieldaig. On the banks of Loch Shieldaig sits Shieldaig village.

Shieldaig

Shieldaig village was actually built to 'raise' and train sailors to fight Napoleon. Grants were given for boats, and £2,700 was spent building the three main streets. Building started in 1810, but then Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, and the brave men of Shieldaig were never asked to fight.

~ Loch Shieldaig & Shieldaig village in winter ~

The church was built in 1825, and the school added at the end of that century. In 1893, the minister of Shieldaig broke away from the established church along with the minister of Raasay to form the Free Presbyterian Church.

At one time, the road ended at Shieldaig, and those intent on going north could only do so by boat as foot passengers to Torridon village, Inveralligin, or Diabaig. A track of sorts, suitable for walkers, led eastwards for eight miles along the southern shore of Upper Loch Torridon where a road could be joined again. In those days, Shieldaig to Torridon village by car necessitated a 60 mile detour via Lochcarron, Achnasheen and Kinlochewe. More history on the Historical Perspective page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Shieldaig village (right) can just be seen with Ben Shieldaig behind ~

The Shieldaig fishing industry is now limited to prawns and mussels - so the name Shieldaig ('Herring Bay') is rather redundant - although the herring gulls are fatter, but the sea still plays a vital role in the economy of the area and it is still a place where young people learn sea-faring skills. The original houses still exist and have been joined by several more as the village expands. Improved communications have opened up the area to tourism, but the population of the area of a whole is still falling. Shieldaig village now has about 85 full time occupants.

Shieldaig Island is covered with Scots pine which are thought to have been planted deliberately about 130 years ago to provide the village with poles for ships and fishing nets. The island is now a National Trust site of special scientific interest and has a thriving bird population, including Herons, Kestrels, Black Guillemots, Long Eared Owls and Mergansers.

The road from Shieldaig takes you over the highest mountain passes in Britain, onto the Applecross peninsular - one of the most remote places in Western Europe, which has stunning views over to Raasay, Rona and Skye (and some great beaches).

If you are visiting the area and need a guide to explore the Torridon mountains you should consider contacting Jim Sutherland. His website is here

~ Loch Shieldaig on a June evening ~

 

Two hardy sons of Shieldaig.

 

The place names around Torridon are derived from Gaelic or the Norse occupation:

Torridon - Place of transference
Shieldaig - Herring Bay
Alligin - Jewel or Pretty Woman
Diabaig - Deep bay
Annat - Mother Church

If you'd like to know more about the geology, natural history and wildlife of the Torridon area, follow the link below and buy Chris Lowe's excellent book (from Amazon) Torridon: the Nature of the Place - Chris Lowe

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