Exploring Loch Torridon

Date published: 24 April 2018

There is a majesty to the Torridon Mountains that is difficult to articulate. They form an arresting backdrop to the entrance to Loch Torridon.  To the cruising sailor, this loch has much to offer.  The view of the mountains are a reward to those who have ventured this far under sail; or a welcome to those who choose to charter from Loch Torridon.

While the loch is an ideal launchpad for a cruise around the Isle of Skye or to hop the northwest coast to Cape Wrath, you could spend a week simply exploring the loch.  It has three parts – Upper Loch Torridon, Loch Shieldaig and Outer Loch Torridon.  They offer the cruising sailor good restaurants, mountain and coastal walks, quiet anchorages, abundant sea and bird life and a community pontoon in Shieldaig village.

Living on the edge of Loch Shieldaig, when we can we steal a night at anchor.  A favourite is Ob Gorm Mhor in the Upper Loch.  We have never shared it with another yacht.  A night in Ob Gorm Mhor is restorative for the peace it affords and the views north to Beinn Alligin.  And if a run ashore is called for, you can walk the local estate track to The Torridon Inn, where delicious pub food awaits.

The Applecross Peninsula forms the south shore of Outer Loch Torridon.  There are several delightful anchorages to suit various wind directions.  Of interest is Camus An Eilean.  Sheltered from the west, this is a charming anchorage with an old stone jetty on the western shore.  It is here that one of the Applecross Estate’s deer stalkers lived, in a fine stone cottage that is now a listed building, and it is said HM The Queen landed here for a picnic from Britannia. 

From Camus an Eilean, the views to the northwest reveal Redpoint beach.  The sun always shines on Redpoint beach – the colour of the tumbling dunes gives an impression of sunlight; it is always a hopeful bright spot in the Outer Loch and was the setting for the film What we did on our Holiday, with Billy Connolly.  In the right conditions, we anchor-off for an afternoon, go ashore and feel the red granular sand between our toes.

For a gastronomic treat, we head to Diabaig.  Meaning “deep bay” in Gaelic, Diabaig was a maritime supply hub for Loch Torridon before the roads came.  While today a much quieter village, the old school stands as a beacon for it is the home of Gille Brighde (meaning oyster catcher), a café and restaurant utilising fresh local produce.   It won the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Award in 2015.  Loch Diabaig is indeed deep, but you can anchor off the old stone pier and go ashore to this excellent restaurant!

Leaving Diabaig under sail after an evening at Gille Brighde, I looked astern and saw on the low ground separating Loch Diabaig from Loch Shieldaig, a red deer stag standing on the horizon.  This moment spoke volumes for what Loch Torridon has to offer – some of Scotland’s wildest places, tempered by good local cuisine and attractive anchorages.

Gordon Drysdale

Torridon Yacht Charter