Torridon (Gaelic Toirbheartan) is an area on the west coast of Ross and Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands. The settlement straggles along the shores of Loch Torridon and takes in Torridon village (also known as Fasaig), Inveralligin and Diabaig to the north of the loch, Annat to the south-east, Shieldaig to the west, and Kinlochewe to the east. It's backed to the north by steep mountains, including several Munros, and the main reason to visit is for hill-walking and climbing. This page also includes the Applecross peninsula further south. In 2011 the entire area had a combined population of 410.
Torridon is a tiny village in a big, big landscape. It gives its name to the Torridon sandstone which forms this section of coast plus Sleat the lowland part of Skye, and stretches up to Durness at the northwest tip of Scotland. The sandstone was laid down 1200 to 1000 million years ago in the Mesoproterozoic Era, those heady days when sexual reproduction was invented. (The continents then were roughly in their present shape, but far from their present arrangement.) The sandstone sits "unconformably" on Lewisian gneiss - that means a break in the time sequence, one helluva break as the gneiss is 3000 million years old - three billion. In several areas to the north the gneiss predominates, and it makes up almost all of Lewis (hence the term "Lewisian") and the Uists. The two rock systems have weathered very differently so Torridon has a landscape of stark scenery, with jagged peaks you can climb or at least photograph. As it's remote with difficult transport, it's unspoiled by quarrying or other industry. In 2004 this region became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the North West Highlands Geopark.
By car, follow A835 north-west from Inverness towards Ullapool. Turn onto A832 after Garve, then onto A896 at Kinlochewe. The road from Kinlochewe down Glen Torridon is scenic, but narrow with passing places.
Four trains run M-Sa from Inverness via Achnasheen, Achnashellach and Strathcarron, continuing via Plockton to Kyle of Lochalsh, for buses to Skye.
DMK Motors Bus 702 runs between Torridon and Strathcarron to connect with these trains. In good weather you could also hike or mountain-bike the 8-mile trail from Achnashellach over to Torridon: what will you do if it's pelting down and dropping dusk when your train gets there?
Westerbus 705 is just a school bus, once on schooldays, leaving Torridon at 07:30 for Gairloch and returning at 15:30.
You need your own wheels to get anywhere in this scattered district.
Bealach na Bà is the crest at 2054 ft / 626 m on the Applecross Pass road from Lochcarron to Applecross village. The road is narrow with tight bends and 1-in-8 gradients, and not suitable for caravans or other large vehicles. These must stay on A896 to Kinloch Sheildaig, where you can either continue into Torridon village, or reach Applecross by a coast road that is also narrow and winding but avoids the gradients.
- 1 Deer Museum, Torridon IV22 2EW. The red deer changed the face of Highland Scotland. Cervus elaphus scoticus is slightly smaller than the European red deer and with a lighter coat. It's a native species that breeds prolifically and noisily, with a rutting season in October, so although from time to time it's eliminated from intensive farmland, it soon returns from its upland redoubts. In the 19th century Scottish crofters were evicted by their landlords to make way for sheep on the lower ground, and deer and grouse to shoot on the upper ground. It's now a balancing act to keep deer populations at an optimum level: those here are at low density, four per sq km, and often hard to spot against the brown heath. There's usually a herd in the enclosure by the visitor centre, which remains closed as does the museum. Free.
- Am Ploc the Open Air Church is a little amphitheatre by the shore half a mile north of the Deer Museum, and accessible 24 hours. It's a product of the Great Disruption of 1843, when the Church of Scotland sundered over state and landlord patronage of clerical appointments. 450 "Free" Ministers walked away in a righteous huff from their churches, residences and salaries, taking much of the congregation with them. In many places they eventually built their own churches, but in areas suffering poverty and depopulation they had makeshift or open-air places to deliver their lengthy hellfire sermons. Ardour undamped by the driving rain, in Torridon they were checked by the twice-daily spray of the incoming tide. The national schism lasted until a reconciliation in 1929.
- 2 Applecross Heritage Centre, Clachan, Applecross IV54 8ND, ☏ +44 1520 744478. Apr-Oct M-Sa 12:00-16:00. Small local history museum. Suggested donation £3.
- 3 Toscaig is the peaceful inlet and settlement at the end of the lane south from Applecross village. The wooden pier has fallen into the sea, taking with it the sign saying it was unsafe. Until the low level road was built in the 1970s, the main way in and out of Applecross was by ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Toscaig, as the road over the Pass was often blocked in winter and unsuitable for trucks at any time.
- See Gairloch for Inverewe Gardens.
Walking and climbing are the main reason to come to Torridon. There are several Munros - mountains over 3000 feet / 914 m. The highest are north of Loch Torridon, steep and rocky with some scrambling involved.
- 1 Beinn Alligin (3235 ft / 986 m) is a curved ridge, including the Horns of Alligin. It's usually climbed from the lane to Inveralligin: there's a car park at the foot of the path.
- 2 Liathach (3461 ft / 1055 m) is a very steep rocky ridge, and a serious challenge in winter. It's climbed from the A896 in Glen Torridon.
- 3 Beinn Eighe (3310 ft / 1010 m) is a large complex mountain, with multiple summits, spurs and corries. It can be climbed from Glen Torridon or from Kinlochewe.
- 4 Beinn Dearg (2999 ft / 913 m) misses out on Munro status by less than a metre, so it is much less climbed than its neighbours. Use the same start point as for Beinn Alligin.
Hills south of the loch are not quite as high, but give great views across the loch to the mountains beyond. The main peaks are Ben Shieldaig, Beinn Damh and Beinn na h-Eaglaise.
Some lower level walks:
- Follow the path along the north side of Loch Torridon, past Inveralligin, Diabaig and around the coast to Craig bothy. This links to the end of the road at Red Point.
- From the Torridon Hotel, take the old road and track along the south side of Loch Torridon, to Badan Mhugaidh and Balgy.
- Lots on the rugged Applecross peninsula to the west.
Shieldaig Adventures organise sea-kayaking and other activitities. Shieldaig is at the junction of A896 with the Applecross coast road.
Celtman! Triathlon is an extreme endurance event based in Torridon. Swim 3.4 km in a cold Atlantic where the jellyfish hunt in packs, cycle an on-road loop of 200 km, then run 42 km summiting two Munroes - what's not to enjoy? The winning time is under 11 hours. The next event is 17 June 2023.
- Torridon Stores are well provisioned and have a café. They're open May-Oct M-Sa, Nov-Apr W-Sa, 10:00-17:00.
- Loch Torridon Smokehouse prepare excellent smoked salmon. They're in Sheildaig and open M-F 11:00-16:30.
- Torridon Hotel has fine dining in their 1887 Restaurant, and pub grub at the Inn. In 2022 this is only available to residents.
- Applecross Inn, The Street, Applecross IV54 8LR, ☏ +44 1520 744262. W 15:00-22:00, Th-M 11:30-22:00. Good pub grub at this Scottish inn. They have rooms, but it's the food that earns the reviews. B&B double £150.
- Beinn Bar within Torridon Hotel is open to non-residents.
- Arcturus Gin is concocted at a micro-distillery within Torridon Hotel
- There's a moderate supply of B&B and self-catering accommodation. Try also in Kinlochewe, 10 miles east at the junction of A896 and A832.
- 1 Torridon Campsite, Torridon IV22 2EZ (In village just after A896 turnoff), ☏ +44 1445 712345. Basic camp site open all year with toilet and showers, can get boggy. No booking, the Leisure Centre is the contact point. Suggested donation £6 ppn.
- Torridon Youth Hostel, Torridon IV22 2EZ (next to campsite), ☏ +44 1445 791284, firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean well-run hostel open March to October, dog-friendly. Dorm £22 ppn.
- 2 The Torridon, Annat, Torridon IV22 2EY, ☏ +44 1445 791242, email@example.com. Open Feb-Dec, the main hotel is an upmarket affair with 18 bedrooms in a 19th century Baronial cod-castle. Some guests were disappointed by the quality of food and service, and poor soundproofing. They also have 12 rooms in the adjacent stables block, and there's a self-catering cottage. B&B double £500.
- Mol Mor Base Camp (on shore by Deer Museum), ☏ +44 131 458 0305, firstname.lastname@example.org. Bunkhouse run by National Trust for Scotland, sleeps 10 in two 4-bedded and one 2-bedded rooms. Within a converted farm steading at the head of Loch Torridon. Showers, kitchen laundry, oil-fired c/h. Bookings run M-F and F-M. £20 ppn, minimum £100.
- Stalker's Cottage (next to Deer Museum), ☏ +44 131 458 0305, email@example.com. Self-catering cottage run by National Trust for Scotland, sleeps 4 in one double and two singles. In summer it's let Saturday-Saturday, shorter lets available out of season. £600 / week.
- Applecross Campsite, Applecross IV54 4ND (village centre), ☏ +44 1520 744268. Friendly site open Apr-Oct, toilets are a bit basic. They also accept caravans and motorhomes. Tent £12 ppn.
- 3 Hartfield House Hostel, Applecross IV54 8ND, ☏ +44 1520 744333. Brilliant little hostel open Mar-Dec, with private rooms, but in 2022 there are no shared dorms as a Covid precaution. Double from £70.
As of July 2022, Torridon and its approach roads have 4G from Vodafone, but no signal from other carriers. 5G has not reached this area.
- The road south winds around Loch Carron to Plockton, Dornie and Kyle of Lochalsh, where you cross the bridge to Skye.
- Or go east via Kinlochewe and Loch Maree to Gairloch.
- North Coast 500 is a motoring itinerary through this region and eventually back to Inverness.