Ardnamurchan, Scotland

Ben Hiatt, Scotland Ardnamurchan is one of the hidden delights of Scotland. Far too many people go to nearby Mull, there’s actually a ferry connecting the two, and ignore this staggeringly beautiful part of the country.  Fresh seafood, excellent walking and birdwatching plus some of the best holiday accommodation around makes this a place you will remember for a very long time. Seals, eagles, dolphins, whales, otters, wildcats and magnificent red deer can all be seen here.

I would suggest you start your visit to Ardnamurchan by calling in at the Nadurra Visitors’ centre which is basically natural history of the peninsula. They have truly outstanding displays and walk through exhibition of the wildlife to give you an excellent start. There is also a camera right smack bang in the middle of the heronry out the back with the webcam rotating and zooming in and out. It really is amazing as the nest building, courtship and breeding take place at different times with different pairs so it is quite simply fascinating. Best of all they have a  café with a sightings board where you can see what’s been about for the past few days. Twite, Storm and Leaches Petrel, Hen Harrier and both Eagles are seen here with pine martin and long eared bats nesting inside the centre.

Ben Hiatt, Scotland Boat trips are available on Loch Shiel one of the longest fresh water lochs where you can watch sea eagles wafting by.  You can follow this up by a visit to a different kind of bird, the Blue Parrot. This excellent little cafe is in the community building in Archaracle which also houses the Post Office and as the name suggests the owner is always being given felt, ceramic or pictures of parrots. It has some of the best value for money local food you will find around. Everything is baked on the premises and has internet access and wi-fi. The cafe has a large viewing window overlooking Loch Shiel and the mountains and is a regular spot for walkers to come to for a post walk coffee or soup.

In fact the walking here is superb. We climbed Ben Hiant and got staggering views overlooking Mull, Skye and the other islands of the Inner Hebrides. On clear day you can look eastwards to see Ben Nevis. Walking is on all standards here from easy to challenging but all of them are made memorable by the incredible scenery of the lochs and mountains. Books are available on the net showing all these walks but many are listed on the community’s website.

There is also a tremendous range of accommodation on the peninsula from top calls hotels to self catering cottages and B&Bs. However this would be Ardnamurchan if there wasn’t something extra special in the wind. Some self catering cottages are ecologically special having been built of recycled materials with a grass roof so they blend in with the scenery whilst you can even stay on your own private 600 acre island with your own small boat to explore the nooks and crannies of Loch Sunart.

Loch Sunart, Scotland Whatever you do you have to go to the lighthouse which stands on the UK mainland’s most westerly point. Be careful here though as roads are nearly all single track on the peninsula and there are passing places almost every hundred yards. It is the law that you should pull over into one of these passing places if a local is behind you as they know the roads and travel a bit faster than us visitors.  It nice though when you’re sitting in the pub at night and a total stranger comes up to you and  says “ Thanks for pulling over and letting me pass this morning.” It just adds to the charm of the place.

The website can be found at www.ardnamurchan.com.

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Steve Newman

Eco Adventure Cruising writer & photographer

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