Wester Ross Uncovered

Date published: 02 June 2020

Late May this year saw MSV Red Moon back up in the Kyle of Lochalsh to start her second season as 'the fleet' for Red Moon Cruises. We had some good bookings in place – apart from an inexplicable hiatus in July, so we decided to take advantage of this to do some private exploration and find some new anchorages to take our guests to.

Our choice was to take a better look at the Wester Ross coast – Applecross peninsula and north thereof. It seems that this part of North West Scotland can get somewhat overlooked when it is competing with the attractions of its big island neighbour of Skye.

Our journey started with a look at the Kishorn Islands, at the entrance to Lochs Kishorn and Carron. The Kishorn islands make a great cruise stop for lunch or even as a night anchorage. There is a lovely 360-degree view of the hills of the Applecross Peninsula, Plockton and its majestic Duncraig Castle (now a hotel), the distant Cuillins of Skye and the nearby white sandy beach and rocks – with plenty of curious seals to entertain you!

Next stop up the coast is Loch Toscaig. It is quite open and not to be recommended if a southerly or strong south westerly is forecast. However, the nearby Crowlin Islands take the worst of any directly west wind away and in other conditions it is a lovely quiet place to stop with walks ashore and just a few houses to keep it from feeling too remote. We anchored in a little bay in front of what we called 'the glassy house'.  On the shores of the loch are some substantial concrete blocks and wooden poles and Scott had a theory it might have been used as part of a past military installation.

Heading further up the coast we arrived at the lovely anchorages of Poll Domhain and Poll Creadha. Now we are not sure if we want to share this information as Poll Domhain became a regular favourite cruise stop for us – and we usually had it to ourselves! It gives good shelter except perhaps in a strong north westerly and there is plenty for folk to do ashore in terms of rambling. From that bay you can head north – eventually reaching lovely Applecross itself, or you can head south and approach Loch Toscaig from the road – or even further south and you will be looking back to the Kishorn Islands. When we first arrived in early summer we concluded that there was a 'seal creche' in operation there – so many of them in one spot with lots of cute white furry pups playing in the kelp!

We explored both north and south and during a walk towards Applecross we came across a photographic gallery – pretty much in the middle of nowhere. After a most informative chat with the lady looking after the place, we met the owner Jack Marris, an enthusiastic, enterprising and talented young photographer who has built up his business (Applecross Photographic Gallery) from scratch in this remote spot of Camusterrach. We asked about getting some photos of Red Moon and ended up, the next day, with a full-on photo shoot complete with drone video. Some of Jack's work illustrate this article.

At Applecross we anchored close to the boathouse slip in nearby Milton which is a good place to tender ashore and just outside the main Applecross village. We went ashore and visited the lovely Walled Garden cafe just outside the village on the other side – a treat for the eyes both horticulturally and gastronomically.

Later we headed north and made a short lunch stop in Loch Torridon, which we have visited before, anchoring in what was a new bay for us in attractive Loch Diabaig, on the north side of outer Loch Torridon. We anchored on the south side of the old pier on a gorgeous sunny day. Before heading north we did some exploration of the immediate area and found there would be room to anchor among the moorings close into the cliffs in the south west corner of the loch.

Next stop – Loch Gairloch. This was our first visit to this Gairloch and we spent time exploring and mapping all the anchorages with our new Navionics Boating software. We stopped at pretty Badachro and then comfortably passed through the channels between Eilean Horrisdale and the mainland into 'the Bird's Nest', continuing on to take a look at Flowerdale. We anchored for the night at another Shieldaig the south eastern most anchorage of Gairloch. We thought this anchorage would be comfortable in most weather conditions with ample anchoring room between moorings.

Finally, it was time to head back to Kyle to get ready for our next charter feeling we had just that bit more to offer our guests.

Scott Atkinson & Mary Waller

Red Moon Cruises