The not-so Wild West

The west coast can often get a bad rep for its midges but the positives of visiting this stunning part of Scotland far outweigh those pesky mites.

We spent time on the Ardnamurchan peninsula – a remote but beautiful part of the world. From Edinburgh head North (M9/A84/A85) via Stirling and Callander to Crianlarich. From Crianlarich, follow A82 through Glencoe and Ballachulish, following signs for Fort William.  Approximately 8 miles south of Fort William you come to the village of Onich – there’s the Bunree campsite here which is a great place to stay.  About 1.5 miles from there, turn left at the signpost for the Corran Ferry. The ferry takes you to Ardgour and you can choose which way to go from there. It’s mostly single-track road but take your time and enjoy the scenery.

We spent a few days touring about, visiting various areas of this stunning area. We lucked out with the weather and it was positively tropical!

On leaving Ardgour we headed towards Strontian, situated by Loch Sunart. Loch Sunart is a sea loch and a designated Marine Protected Area fed by both salt water from the Atlantic and fresh water from streams.  Here, the warm seas meet colder waters, nurturing an unusual array of creatures and plant life including rare and beautiful species. The paddleboards were taken out and we explored the loch while basking in the sunshine.

Alternatively, you can take the route between the big hills of Ardgour which leads on to Glen Tarbert, Strontian, then Salen.

However, we headed west from Strontian to Salen.  You may choose to stop at Resipole Farm Holiday Park, en route to Salen. Situated on the shores of Loch Sunart, you can enjoy the beauty of the area and the wildlife.  You may be lucky enough to see deer, eagles, seals, porpoises and otters. From Resipole Farm, you can go on a hike to the peak of Ben Resipole, an 845m Corbett with cracking views. The Farm also has a fabulous art gallery, with a range of exhibitions running throughout the year.

Heading further west will take you to Salen.  The north curve of Salen Bay is home to the ruins of the 13th century Aros Castle which is worth visiting. Nearby, the MacQuarie Museum marks the last resting place of Lachlan MacQuarie, Governor of New South Wales in 1809 and generally regarded as the ‘Father of Australia’. Who knew?!

From Salen you can head west towards Kilochan or North West towards Ardtoe. We decided to explore Ardtoe, based on its reputation for long sandy beaches and views of the Small Isles. It didn’t disappoint!  Time was spent rock pooling and swimming before walking along the peninsula towards Farquhar’s Point. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of the white-tailed eagles, but we did spot several otters.

If castles are your thing, you can head east of Ardtoe to Castle Tioram (pronounced Cheerum). Although it’s closed to visitors, at low tide, you can get a good look at the exterior.

On leaving Ardtoe, we headed back down towards Loch Sunart and west to Sanna, famed for being one of the most stunning beaches on the peninsula. Like Ardtoe, it has amazing views of the Small Isles and is a naturists paradise.

A trip to the peninsula wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. Between April and October, you can climb to the very top. The 36-metre tower is 55 metres above the sea and was built in 1849 using granite from the Island of Mull. It was designed, almost uniquely, in ‘Egyptian’ style by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson.

It was with heavy hearts that our trip was coming to an end and we had to make a hard decision whether to head back east on the road we’d taken or jump on a ferry to Mull.  At Kilchoan you can get a ferry to Tobermoray, get a ferry back over to Lochaline and then back to Strontian. However, we plumped to head to Tobermoray then take a ferry back to Oban. Mull is definitely worth spending a few days in if you have the time.

West Coast, we’ll be back!

If you have any tips or route recommendations, get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.