The landscape of Wester Ross is among the most spellbinding in the world. Here in the north west Highlands of Scotland, discover a place of astounding natural beauty and eco-diversity, where communities live in harmony with the land and sea, preserving a unique time-honoured way of life, passed down through the generations.

Amid this natural playground formed by some of the oldest geology in the world, explore an idyllic coastline fringed with pristine beaches, gleaming lochs, centuries-old pinewoods, deep glens, and lofty mountains among the highest in the UK. Each of these habitats provide for an incredible array of rare wildlife and plant species, that are of international significance.

Wester Ross Biosphere is more than just a place to enjoy some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery; it’s a destination where you can truly slow down and appreciate the delicate and vital connection all humans share with their environment. A place where unique beauty, culture and history come together quite unlike anywhere else.

Map of Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere
  • The biosphere is 3,000 sq miles in size. It's home to two national scenic areas and three national nature reserves.

Why you should visit

Wester Ross is a place with a human story that is as captivating and ancient as the landscape itself. See thousands of years of history laid bare at evocative sites ranging from Iron Age brochs and ruined villages, to battles sites and old drove roads.

It’s not all lost in the past though, as you can observe Highland culture and tradition at its most authentic. At the crofts, villages and tiny settlements across this sparsely populated land, you’re invited to witness first-hand how people and their forbears have shaped and enriched this remote environment, and how they are now embracing a new and sustainable future.

Open your senses to uncover a rich cultural identity transmitted down the ages through the enthralling sound of the Gaelic language, music, song and storytelling; in the exquisite flavours harvested using low-intensive methods; and beneath your fingers in the rich craftsmanship and artistry native to this secluded but accessible corner of Scotland.

People are amazed by the feeling of remoteness here – only 8,000 people live in the 5,000 km area. Cycling, walking or kayaking are the best ways to really get in touch with the place. It lets you slow down and really engage with the environment and people.”
Natasha, at Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action of a global partnership of countries. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations works hand-in-hand with strategies to improve health and education, reduce inequality and encourage economic growth, alongside tackling climate change.

All of our UNESCO designations work towards the UN SDGs – this is looking at their work towards three in particular.

Goal 8

Decent work & economic growth

Encouraging and supporting opportunities to become more sustainable in balance with the fragile economy.

Goal 15

Life on land

Conservation of the core and buffer zones is a key priority for the biosphere and promotion of sustainable land use and development is at the heart of their objectives.

Goal 17

Partnership for the goals

The biosphere works with, listens to and persuades - in conjunction with their resident population and visitors.

Learn more about UNESCO

Wester Ross was originally designated a UNESCO Biosphere in 1976 as Beinn Eighe, but it was expanded and renamed in 2016. It is part of an international network of over 700 biospheres around the world sharing knowledge, experience and ideas on how to make life better for people and nature.


A pine cone sitting in the grass
A pine cone

When you visit

There’s no single way to go about exploring Wester Ross Biosphere. But with one of the world’s most spectacular settings, you won’t want to rush your time here.

Crofting culture has left an indelible mark upon the landscape of Wester Ross which you can observe at locations like the wood pasture at Coille Mhor, Drumbuie and Duirinish, and other villages such as Ullapool, Gairloch, Kinlochewe, Garve, Applecross and Glenelg, which embrace traditional low-intensive farming methods.

Support local businesses

Scotland's UNESCO Trail is an opportunity to explore the country in a sustainable and responsible way. Browse our Green Tourism businesses in the area including accommodation, attractions, tours and food & drink. These businesses are assessed in a range of criteria from energy efficiency to biodiversity and awarded bronze, silver or gold accreditation.

Read more about sustainable ways to explore and travel on Scotland's UNESCO Trail.

The area is also home to biosphere supporters - these are businesses, communities and groups who are also committed to sustainable development. Check out the north Scotland journey below to see some of these businesses.

How to visit

The Wester Ross Biosphere is situated in the north west Highlands. It is one of the more remote areas of Scotland and has one of the lowest population densities in Europe. Despite this, it is still perfectly accessible to reach and explore.

RAIL & BUS

The nearest largest railway hub is Inverness Station which receives regular services from London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. From here, it is possible to journey direct to Wester Ross with a number of stops on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line which is located between Strathcarron and Glen Carron stations.

Several buses services operate to Inverness from other main towns and cities including the CityLink coach services and Megabus budget buses.

CAR

If travelling by car, take care while driving; the narrow, often single-track roads and steep climbs require the upmost attention. If possible, opt for an electric car or EV (electric vehicle). Charging stations are located throughout the Wester Ross area.

You can also hire a state-of-the-art Tesla and drive to and around Wester Ross. Vehicles are available for collection at Inverness Airport, and hubs in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Wester Ross has four main communities Ullapool, Gairloch, Lochcarron and Kyle of Lochalsh; all can be reached from the town of Fort William in under three hours, depending on the route taken. The city of Inverness is about an hour and 30 minutes from all locations.

AIR

If arriving by air, the nearest airport is Inverness which offers daily flights to and from destinations across the UK and Europe, including London Gatwick and Heathrow, Bristol, Manchester and Amsterdam. Glasgow International Airport offers flights to and from over 100 destinations around the world, as does Aberdeen International Airport.

Find out more on travelling to:

A train sits at the platform at Kyle Train Station, the hills behind
Kyle Train Station
A woman carrying a walking stick with a backpack looks out over a loch and trees to some hills, from a rocky ledge

Experience the Awe-Inspiring UNESCO Sites of North Scotland

North Scotland is more accessible than you might think, with options to arrive by train or bus. This secluded part of the country has some of the world’s most scenic driving routes, and the journey around the biosphere and geopark’s communities, natural landmarks and attractions is just as spectacular as the destinations. Read our practical advice on how to get around, what to see, and where to stay and eat.

View Journey

Useful links