Rowena Bell-Scott, June 1, 2011
Sitting proudly on the west coast of Scotland, Ardnamurchan claims to be the most north-westerly point on the British mainland. Its natural ruggedness and varied landscape makes it an ideal place to pursue many outdoor activities.
Where to go
There are no major towns on the peninsula, only little villages with basic amenities. If you were to make a basecamp anywhere I would recommend Salen, Acharacle or Kilchoan where you can stay in relative comfort and nearby to local shops for food and supplies. There is also the potential to pitch a tent in Acharacle and Kilchoan. If you would prefer to stay somewhere more remote Sanna and Portuik are the perfect places.
You can pitch a tent in most places but if near farmland check with the local farmer! If you enjoy camping but like to have some basics such as a hot shower, then head to Resipole Farm. If you would rather have a solid roof over your head then there are many privately owned cottages to let, as well as delightful B&Bs and hotels.
Full list of accommodations in Ardnamurchan.
When to go
For camping and the outdoors the best months are April, May and September. Ardnamurchan in these months has its own microclimate where it is often sunny and warm with very little rain and most importantly no midges! The summer months running from June to August are often drizzly and are home to clouds of midges – best to be avoided unless you have very strong midge repellent. Winter months can be snow-free even if bitterly cold.
What to do
The coast is littered with beautiful, unpopulated, white sandy beaches where you can enjoy bathing, fishing, sailing or sea kayaking. Sanna Bay, beyond Kilchoan is perhaps one of the most popular beaches with views of Rhum, Eigg and Skye. The many majestic lochs scattered on the peninsula also allow for these activities such as Loch Sunart, stretching 22 miles long, at the foot of Ben Resipole.
Fishing is free on the shoreline of Loch Sunart where you can obtain daily or weekly licences for other areas such as Strontian, Ardgour and Acharacle. Loch Sunart is also ideal for small boat sailing with many places to stop off and explore. Visitors can moor at Salen and Kilchoan and often holiday cottages on its shoreline have private jetties. The Sound of Mull lying south of Ardnamurchan is a more challenging piece of water as it is the main passage to the Western Hebrides.
If you are a keen runner or walker there are many hills, forests and tracks to explore. One of the most enjoyable walks is near Acharacle. A ten minute drive to Kentra finds you at the start of the Singing Sands walk which can only be reached by foot or bike. It is approximately a 6km walk through an extensive Scots pine forest opening up onto a remote beach – an ideal place to set up camp for the night. You can also access the Singing Sands from Ockle which is a more challenging walk in gradient and length. For a more challenging hike head for Ben Hiant near Kilchoan and look out for the abandoned village on its slopes.
Getting there responsibly
Despite its remote location on a peninsula due west of Fort William, Ardnamurchan is easily accessible by train, bus or car. To get there by your own means you can either take the long route round Loch Linnhe but the shorter route by ferry might be more preferable. The Corran ferry runs from Onich, close to Fort William, to Ardgour on the peninsula. The first ferry leaves just before 7am and the last one is at 9pm. The crossing itself is a mere 5 minutes – a hop on hop off effort for the one-way fare is £6.40. Be aware that the majority of roads on the peninsula are single-track.
You can not reach Ardnamurchan directly by train. The closest you can get to it is Fort William Station via National Rail Services from any major rail stations: Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Stirling and Edinburgh. You would then have to use the local public bus to either Strontian, Salen or Kilchoan. Aternatively take a bike and make your way towards the peninsula.