The Ardnamurchan Peninsular & Loch Sunart - Argyll and Bute Scotland
By - Spinner
Ardnamurchan is a word that doesn’t readily slip off the tongue. However, for those of you that follow the Shipping Forecast you will recognise the name as part of the BBC Inshore Waters Bulletin, Mull of Kintyre to Ardnamurchan Point.
‘Situated on the stunning West Coast of Scotland, Ardnamurchan is a long, narrow peninsula along the shores of Loch Sunart and includes the most westerly tip of the British Mainland’.
Not my words, but the words from the Ardnamurchan regional website. Having discovered such a beautiful place the selfish gene kicks in and instinct tells us, ‘keep it a secret’!
To get to Ardnamurchan from the south you take the A82. At Bunree, ten miles before you reach Fort William, catch the Corran Ferry that crosses Loch Linnhe. Crossing the Loch gives you the sense that you are leaving the mainland, catch it on a good day, or a bad one and the view will inspire!
Leave the ferry, turn left and take the A861 (it’s the only road) that hugs the shoreline of the Linnhe to Inversandi. A few miles on and the hills rise up both sides and fold around you. At this point you may well feel like Bilbo Baggins on a journey into Middle Earth, to the land of Ardgour, Moidart and Morvern where the Clan Maclean and Maclaine, famous for their honour, strength and courage, battled for the Jacobite cause.
Soon the head of Loch Sunart comes into view. At 19 miles long it is the longest sea loch in the Highlands. It is amazingly deep as well, up to 124 metres in places!! From Strontian the road hugs the North shore of Sunart, lined with ancient lichen covered stunted trees, this primeval forest, primarily of Sunart Oak, offers the walker the chance to spot Otters, Eagles and red squirrels.
A few miles further on and you pass a campsite at Resipole. Now I know campsites are not everyone’s cup of tea, however, in the shadow of Ben Resipole and on the banks of Loch Sunart the site with its own slipway makes it an ideal stopover for those who like hill walking, boating and fishing.
Two and a half miles further, in the village of Salen, is the Salen Hotel with a selection of good beers and whiskies. In addition, at the Marina, there is an opportunity to pick up a charter boat to the Isle of Mull or moor your own as the marina caters for day visitors.
At Salen the A861 continues to Acharacle, Loch Shiel and Glenuig. However, this is where the traveller should take the B8007, a twisty single track road to Glenborradale, Kilchaon and the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. Although ok to drive in a Motorhome this is a great road to cycle, or for those of you who have a scooter on board, this the time to get some gear on and enjoy!
The lighthouse is 25 miles away and will take you about an hour to drive as this is a slow road. However, don’t rush it, there is plenty to see on the way. Stop off at the Visitor centre, Nadurra Museum of Natural History, and tea rooms at Glenbeg and see why this peninsula is so special.
The road to the lighthouse is jaw dropping, especially on two wheels, look out for sea eagles, and glimpses of hidden creeks with white sandy beaches. From the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point you can see the Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rùm, and depending on the time of year Minke whales and Basking Sharks.
From the lighthouse follow the road back to Salen and re-join the A861. At Acharacle, overlooking Loch Shiel, you can replenish the larder with local produce. Check out the community centre and see ‘what’s on’. From craft fairs to ceilidh bands there will be something to make you linger.
The A861 will eventually join the A830, where the scenery and wildlife is just as impressive. The Glenuig Inn is a good stopover and is recommended on the Club Motorhome website. Ardnamurchan is a wild and beautiful place, perfect for outdoor pursuits. Throw in the ancient and natural history, the geology and the warm welcome you will receive makes this part of the British Isles a must.