Gairloch (Flowerdale) Harbour Master VHF #12 tel 01445 712140 mob 07769 671966
Badachro Harbour Trust 07775652911
Gairloch is a wide loch on the West Coast between Loch Ewe and Loch Torridon. There is habitation all the way round from the caravan site on the north shore round to Gairloch village on the East shore but otherwise it is mostly wild with the occasional cottage/croft.
There has been a settlement of sorts here since pre history variously claimed by the Vikings and Clan Macleod and Clan Mackenzie who have argued over the ownership of this land for at least two centuries (both verbally and physically!!) The settlement known as “Gairloch” in fact consists of several different villages; Charlestown (the area also known as Flowerdale), Gairloch, Auchtercairn, Strath and Smithstown, the last two of which blend to form the main village round to the caravan/campsite on the North shore. All these are marked on AC 2528-1
On the East shore, behind Glas Eilean there is a small but very sheltered Harbour, variously referred to as Gairloch Harbour or Flowerdale harbour, in which there is a pontoon for visiting boats. There are two other popular anchorages, one at Loch Shieldaig and one at Badachro. (There is another Loch Shieldaig at the bottom of Loch Torridon just around the corner so it is as well to ensure that, in dialogue with other mariners, you are both referring to the same one!!).
The pontoon at Flowerdale will give shelter from all directions but both Badachro and Sheildaig are exposed to Northerly weather. Loch Kerry just across from Flowerdale is exposed to anything from the NW to the North.
Flowerdale is run by the Highland Council which also owns the mooring buoys in Loch Sheildaig
Over on the South side there are two anchorages, Badachro and Loch Sheildaig where there are both moorings and room to anchor
Entry into the bay is either through the narrow straits (Caolas Beag)....
.... between Longa Island and the mainland or straight in from our way point. If coming from the North going through Caolas Beag will save about a mile, and, of course may prove an option if the wind is from the South and you can maintain a tack through the those narrows. Depth-wise unless you are particularly deep drafted the narrows pose no dangers. Whichever entry you take do not expect that Glas Eilean will be recognisable, just head for the middle of the end of the loch until it becomes obvious. For all of the moorings and anchorages we note here you will want to leave Glas Eilean to port when you eventually identify it.
This is an extremely popular place amongst the cruising fraternity and....
.... if you arrive in the evening you will probably find all the “easy” options taken. (we stayed on the pontoon at Flowerdale in July and by the evening all yachts there were rafted and the moorings across at Sheildaig and Badachro taken).
There are two Antares charts covering the southern anchorages of Badachro and Loch Sheildeag
Flowerdale (Gairloch Harbour) Make for the end of the pier and the pontoon will eventually open to port (long after you’ve started to wonder whether there is one or not). You will need to fender up for both sides before the pontoon comes into sight or have a look and then retreat to open water to clear away for entering harbour. The pier itself is reserved for trawlers and the East side of the pontoon is now herringboned for small angling boats. Be aware that, in an Easterly blow, when all the trawlers are in (at the weekend) and rafting is required on the pontoon there is not much room to turn your own boat into wind and you will need to keep a bit of speed on to turn here before coming in alongside port side to. There is room here for about two 9m yachts and a 7m one with a further three rafted outside them on the west side of the pontoon whilst there may be room inside the fingers on the same side for another couple of yachts. The East side of the first finger is reserved for a tripping boat (and obviously marked as such) The photos in our gallery were taken early in the afternoon; by evening Shy Talk had been moved around in to the inside of the first finger, and the single yacht in our photographs was moved up and joined by three others!! The message here is that if you are here first, squeeze up tight and rig outboard fenders.
The charges here are the same as other HC harbours (2021, £25.10 for a 10 metre boat); remember that the one day charge covers a second day here or elsewhere and there is a 15 day rover ticket. Download their prices at:
In Northerly weather if the pontoons are full you can drop anchor off the end of the pier but leave plenty of room for trawlers and wear a riding light. There are a couple of boats which utilise the pier for holiday trippers but they adjust their movements to allow for visiting yachts.
Loch Kerry This anchorage is well sheltered from the North round to the South West. Best to tuck in close to the SW shore but be aware of that isolated rock on the corner. There are no services and you will need an outboard on your dinghy to get anywhere but the immediate shore
Loch Sheildeag This is a popular anchorage. From Glas Eilean leave Fraoch Eilean and Eilean an t-Sabhail to starboard. You may find a vacant visitors buoy here, if not then you will have to anchor. Be very careful, enter as near the middle of the channel to the east of Eilean an t-Sabhail as you can because there is a submerged rock half a cable out from the shore. The anchorage opens out after that but dries towards the southern shore. There is a small pool on the Western side of the two islands and it is accessible with ease passing through the gap between the two islands on the top of the tide; I wouldn’t attempt entry down the narrow channel to the West of Eilean an t-Sabhail at anything less than HW, even with the Antares chart.
The visitors buoys here are serviced by the Highland Council and you should drop in to the HM at Flowerdale to pay your dues. I'm not sure where they get the authority for this as their harbour limits are just the waters close to Flowerdale Pier?
There have been changes here which have been brought to our attention by Tom Watson in the "Have your say" section below. There is now a Badachro Harbour Trust (there was before but I was unaware of it!) and they have a website at badachroharbour.org
They have laid four 20 tonne blue visitors' moorings (with pick up ropes) in the positions shown on the chartlet (click on the chart to get a larger version in a new window). They are available throughout the year on a first-come-first-served basis and can be paid for at £15 a night at the hotel ashore or at the Latitude 57 gift shop. If not venturing ashore you can phone or text Rob on 07775 652911 to pay.
Flowerdale (Gairloch). Power and water are available on the pontoon and diesel can be bunkered on the west side of the new pier. Showers are available at the yacht club just past the shop.
Petrol is obtainable at the garage at Gairloch beyond the golf course and Gas/Camping Gaz can be purchased at Garden Centre at Auchtercairn.
There is a small shop for simple requirements, a café and a computer shop which will allow you to use their own PCs for internet (at a cost) but do not have Wi-Fi. The café itself has Wifi and there is also a BT hotspot in the harbour. You can also get Wi-Fi at the nearby hotel but that is a bit intermittent.
The CCC notes say there is a chandlery which we couldn’t find other than the hardware shop cum garden centre at Auchtercairn.
Additionally there is a builders merchants/DIY shop behind the pub which carries a few bits and pieces which may have applications for yachties. They don't do Gas/Gaz.
If you have a major re-victualing to do there is a mini supermarket at Auchtercairn but that is a fair way to carry shopping bags
Badachro There is the pub ashore (which also has a pizza van) and Badacro Marine for help. Along with the Sailing School (which has had good reports and you can find all about them at https://www.sailbadachro.com), the pub also does bicycle hire and there is a distillery at the end of the village (which specialises in gin made from local wild sources.) and a gift shop.
The café on the quayside does a good breakfast until about eleven o’clock and the hotel over the other side of the main road does good food (but not cheap). The hotel we are referring to is just over the bridge, not the one further South on the Admiralty chart.
You will find an Inn ashore at Badachro.
There are numerous opportunities for walking/hill climbing in the area and, naturally, a golf course (which, to non golfer from the road, looks quite interesting)