Why visit us?
Step inside our museum and discover one of the most daring allied operations of WWII. Learn about the Arctic Convoys right where they took place.
The Arctic Convoys were a monumental collaborative effort to provide aid to the Soviet Union to bolster its defences against the invading German forces. The supplies were delivered by merchant vessels, escorted by warships and shielded by air cover. The route went through perilous Arctic waters, and the ships sailed under the constant threat of air, surface vessel and U-boat attacks. This prompted Winston Churchill to declare the route “the worst journey in the world”.
The ships mustered in Loch Ewe, right by our museum, and convoy headquarters was only 6.5 miles away in Poolewe, so we’re telling the story right where it happened.
What can I see?
We have a large and comprehensive collection of Arctic Convoy artefacts and memorabilia. This includes ships’ instruments, uniforms, photographs, written accounts, ships’ logs, medals, toys, models and much more. Our large collection of ship and aircraft models delight children and grown-ups alike.
The exhibition displays include video and audio, and there is also a learning area for children where they can try on gas masks and learn about air raids, rationing and wartime toys. Children are also invited to take our convoy quiz to help them engage with the exhibits. Anyone who wants to can also enjoy a classic game of Battleships. If you can’t find a worthy opponent, why not challenge one of our friendly volunteers?
Be sure to take a look at our NAAFI van ‘Bertie’ before you go. He has a very interesting display of his own, including an original tea urn, radio and lots of NAAFI memorabilia. He also has some interesting wartime recipe ideas that may raise a few eyebrows.
Things to look out for
Click on images to enlarge.
We want to reach an audience of all ages, and as such we have tried to make our exhibition space as accessible as possible.
- We are dog-friendly.
- We have Wi-Fi.
- We have seating in the exhibition space.
- We have activities for children.
- We have benches in our garden.
- We have a gift shop that can take card payments.
- We have ample parking.
In terms of disabled access, however, there are still some improvements to be made. Many of our displays are visible at wheelchair height, but please be advised that one or two display cases are not. Be advised also that there is no ramp to the entrance or disabled toilet available on the premises.
We apologise for the lack of disabled facilities. This will certainly be rectified once we renovate the premises, but for the time being we are housing our collection in a pre-existing building (a former butcher’s), so we have to make do with the facilities available. Rest assured, this is a high priority of ours. If you have any concerns about visiting us, we suggest you call us on 01445 731137 for advice.
We have just started work on our Snowdrop Memorial Garden. Very much a work in progress, once complete it will be a tranquil space commemorating the 3000 allied servicemen who lost their lives in the icy seas.
Given their service in Arctic regions during WWII, the Arctic Convoy veterans wear white berets, thus earning them the nickname ‘snowdrops’. This is why we are planting 3000 snowdrops in our garden, among other white flowering plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, narcissi, hydrangeas and cherry trees. We also intend to include engraved paving slabs in the garden, one for every million Russians killed during WWII, so 27 slabs in total. The garden is still in its early stages, particularly as planned works on the museum site may disrupt planting. That said, we already have some snowdrops growing on site, and are very happy that the Wester Ross Pocket Orchards Project are keen to assist us by planting some fruit-bearing trees. Once complete, the garden should be a very attractive and welcome addition to the museum grounds. We hope visitors will enjoy reflecting in this space. If you wish to donate to this project, there are collection tins in the museum entrance.
Around the scenic Loch Ewe
Loch Ewe is in the North-West Highlands of Scotland, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world
Where can I eat
Currently open in Aultbea is:
Oran-Na-Mara: a lovely cafe and gift shop with stunning views of Loch Ewe just a 3-minute drive away.
And nearby in Mellon Charles:
The Perfume Studio, a 5-star visitor centre and café. An ideal location to enjoy a good meal, coffee, cakes, and a view where you can imagine the boom defence, and the convoys assembling to leave Loch Ewe on their journey to Russia.
Where can I stay?
There is ample choice of accommodation nearby, including hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, self-catering lodgings and campsites. We recommend that you take a look at Visit Wester Ross to see what is available.
Other things to do around Loch Ewe
While in Loch Ewe why not visit some of the other local attractions?
There is the world-famous sub-tropical Inverewe Garden, which was founded by Osgood Mackenzie. It’s amazing what will grow on a latitude that’s more northerly than Moscow. Admission also includes entry to Inverewe House, which is well worth a visit. Keep an eye out for any upcoming exhibitions too.
For something a bit more adventurous, Ewe Canoe offer guided kayak expeditions around the loch, or you can try rock climbing, guided walks and trail running with Go Further Scotland. If a dip in the loch is too adventurous, Poolewe Pool offers lane swimming, public sessions, parent and toddler and learn to swim classes.
If you are interested in the local crafts and artists, then the Poolewe Tuesday Market has a wide range of stalls offering food, arts and crafts, books and curios.
The green-fingered among you will love the Garden Cottage Nursery, which sells alpines, bedding plants, bulbs, dwarf conifers, ferns, grasses, heathers, herbs, house plants, perennials, shrubs and trees.
The baking at the Bridge Cottage Cafe in Poolewe is not to be missed.
You could even try a spot of fishing on the River Ewe.
Where can I find out more about Aultbea and other local heritage?
You can find out more about the local heritage on the Ross and Cromarty Heritage Site.