How to visit Ardnamurchan

things to do Ardnamurchan

From the Isle of Skye to Ullapool, Scotland’s west coast is renowned worldwide for its dramatic seascapes and fjord-like sea lochs, however, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is a little bit special. Let me introduce you to one of my favourite parts of Scotland and one of the west coast of Scotland’s true hidden gems.

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remote Ardnamurchan – truly at the end of the road…

The ‘headland of the great seas’ is the most western part of the British mainland and is beautifully unspoilt, wild and remote and is home to just 2000 people. If you want to get off the beaten track and discover the remote regions of Morvern, Ardgour, Moidart, Sunart, and Ardnamurchan. Here is how to visit. 

things to do Ardnamurchan

How to get to Ardnamurchan

Getting to Ardnamurchan is no easy task – but the long journey is part of the charm of visiting one of the UK’s most remote peninsulas. Whilst Ardnamurchan looks close as the crow flies from busy Fort William or Mallaig, a trip to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula will take you a lot longer than you think – you will be taking a ferry trip and will be mostly driving on very windy single track roads.

To get to Ardnamurchan you need to either:

  • Catch the tiny ferry at Corran and take the short journey across the beautiful Loch Linnhe, the Corran ferry runs until 9.30 pm every day and costs £8.20 single for a car or small campervan, 
  • Drive the long and winding road from Mallaig or Glenfinnan. To get to Ardnamurchan take the Road to the Isles (A830) and turn south at Lochailort, or 
  • Catch a ferry to Ardnamurchan from Tobermory on Mull. Calmac has Summer & Winter timetables from Tobermory to Kilchoan.

Once on the peninsula, leaving Ardgour behind follow the single-track road west along Loch Sunart, Scotland’s longest sea loch, to Moidart and then on to Ardnamurchan through Glenborrowdale to literally the end of the road. Allow 2 hours to drive from Ardgour to the end of the peninsula. 

Things to do on Ardnamurchan

Home to just 2000 people, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula covers just 50 square m and is beautifully unspoilt, wild and remote. Driving across Ardnamurchan’s volcanic caldera gives an incredible view of the small isles of Eigg and Rum and on a clear day, across to the Cullins on Skye. Here is what to do on your visit to Ardnamurchan. 

Walk to Sanna Bay from Portuarik 

things to do Ardnamurchan Sanna Bay

Scotland has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – however, I think Ardnamurchan might have a contender for the very best. At the very end of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is Sanna Bay, an incredible sweep of white sand, turquoise seas and stunning views of the Small Isles Rùm, Eigg, and Muck. Whilst you can get to Sanna by car, my favourite way to visit is to walk from the hamlet of Portuairk along the coastal path.

Portuairk holds the claim to being the most westerly settlement on the British mainland and the crofting cottages hug the coastline and appear in the most spectacular locations. Walking from Portuairk means you arrive at Sanna high above the bay, where the view across the beach reveals sea so blue it needs no editing… The path leads down to the beach with its beautiful white sands.

Don’t be scared if you are joined by a very tame huge lion of a dog on the walk to Sanna. He will need no encouragement to join you on your walk. Say hello from us if you see him, and if you are his owner, we’d love to know his name!

Walk to Sanna from Portuarik

Visit Castle Tioram 

At the village of Salen, take the road north to Loch Moidart to visit the beautiful Castle Tioram. Guarding the entrance to Loch Moidart where it joins the River Shiel on its way to Glenfinnan, the castle’s owners were once the MacDonalds of Clanranald, Lords of the Isles. Tioram Castle (pronounced “Cheerum”) is now in ruins and as it sits on Eilean Tioram (the Dry Island) a tidal island, only accessible at low tide – it was a formidable position to control.

To see the area in all its glory, walk from the castle along the Silver Circuit, an estate path which was built in the 19th century and named after a hoard of silver coins found during construction. With views of with Eigg, Muck and Coll in the distance, the walk will take 2-3 hours. The Loch Moidart tide times change throughout the year. You can find Tioram Castle at Diorlinn, 1 ½ miles north of Acharacle on the A861.

Walk the Silver Circuit

Drive to Ardnamurchan Point and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

The most westerly point of mainland Britain, Ardnamurchan Point takes a lot of effort to reach – you need to tackle 30 miles of single track road – but oh it is worth it. The final stretch, with the UK’s most westerly traffic lights, is a dramatic piece of engineering guarded by the Ardnamurchan Points two collie dogs who welcome every visitor.

At the point is Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, designed by Alan Stevenson (of the Stevenson lighthouse family fame) which opened in 1849. Built from Isle of Mull granite, quarried on the island of Erraid, the lighthouse is now managed by the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust. You can visit the trust exhibition, and climb up the lighthouse’s 152 steps and two ladders, or for those without a head for heights, take in the views all the way to the Isle of Coll from the red foghorn below the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is open from April 1st until October 31st and there is Coffee Shop and Exhibition Centre which are open 10 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. during the season. Tours of the lighthouse take place every hour/ half hour, 11 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. Booking is essential at peak times.

Visit the Ardnamurchan Distillery

Opening in 2014, the Ardnamurchan Distillery is the most westerly of Scotland’s distilleries. Tours of the distillery are on offer every day and include a dram – however, Ardnamurchan has yet to produce a bottling. Ardnamurchan Distilleries’ whisky is currently maturing in American and European oak, ex-sherry casks and American oak ex-bourbon casks – with the first bottling expected in around 2021. Don’t panic – owners Adelphi also produces their own rare bottling selection so you might find something rather interesting on offer as part of your tasting tour! The Ardnamurchan Distillery is at Glenbeg, Acharacle.

Climb Ardnamurchan’s Highest Hills

Ardnamurchan’s highest mountain Ben Hiant might be just 528m high but with views across the whole peninsula, it is well worth your time. If you aren’t feeling that energic, you also get a great view of Ben Hiant from Camas Nan Geall beach – explored by foot or just admire the view across to Ben Hiant from the viewpoint. For history buffs, Camas Nan Geall has a neolithic carn and a bronze age standing stone which you can explore on a Camas Nan Geall walk.

Climb Ben Hiant

If you fancy more of a challenge, then Sunart’s highest hill is the Corbett, Ben Resipol, standing 845m above the peninsula. The hike will take you around 6 hours but the views down Loch Sunart to Glenborrowdale to the islands is simply stunning.

Climb Ben Resipol

View the Small Isles – Eigg, Rum and Skye

things to do Ardnamurchan

Right across the peninsula the road twists and turns across a volcanic caldera – Ardnamurchan forms part of the Lochaber Geopark – some of the rocks found in Morvern are 60 million years old! Across on the small isles of Eigg and Rum the rocks are even more dramatic. On a clear day, the dramatic An Sgurr and the Rum Cuillin are clearly visible. 

See the Jacobite Express and Loch Shiel

Harry Potter fans might usually visit Loch Shiel to fulfil their fantasies of travelling to Hogwarts on the Jacobite Steam Train and crossing the Black Lake, but in my opinion, the loch itself is just as dramatic as the Viaduct. Climb up the Glenfinnan Monument to the fallen who fought in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie for a 360-degree view of the loch and learn about the loch’s connection to the ill-fated Jacobite rebellion by visiting the National Trust for Scotland centre. Behind the viaduct, the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail gives great views of the loch.

From Spring to Autumn, the Jacobite Steam Train crosses the viaduct Monday to Fridays at around 11 am and 3 pm. The best time to see the train is at 11 am, at 3 pm the engine is backwards! Entry to the monument is £3.50 or £9 for a family. Free for National Trust for Scotland members. 

Where to stay on Ardnamurchan

I love the Glenuig Inn on Moidart – the tiny village of Glenuig has rocky inlets, ever-changing light and far more sheep than people, and the Glenuig Inn, perched right on the edge of the bay serving up great food and comfortable rooms. Book directly with The Glenuig Inn. If you are in a motorhome you can also take advantage of the free overnight parking in the pub car park.

If you prefer a hotel then the Kilchoan Hotel is owned by the Ardnamurchan Estate, the hotel is great for grabbing a good lunch and is handy for the ferry to Mull. Book online*

Looking for a self-catering cottage? Want to stay remote? Check out the amazing Rudh Dubh, a crofting cottage perched above Sanna Bay. If you prefer to camp, there are campsites at Kilchoan – Ardnamurchan Campsite, Sunart – Resipole Farm Holiday Park and Sunart Camping.

More places to stay at Fort William*

I left a little piece of my heart behind in Ardnamurchan, and I am sure you will too… We will be back, I promise!

Love from, Scotland x

 

Press play for a video guide to visiting Ardnamurchan! 

Read more – how to drive the ultimate west coast road trip 

Hidden on the most western part of mainland Britain lies ones of Scotland’s true hidden gems. Let me introduce you to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula.

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28 comments

  1. This is one of those areas that I love but haven’t been to for years (mainly because of the out-on-a-limb location). I must admit we’ve always taken the lazy way of driving to Sanna beach rather than walking, but we did climb all the steps in the lighthouse where you we told we might spot whales! We didn’t but the views are fantastic. I’d also recommend the visitor centre near Glenborrodale for wet weather. Plenty to occupy young children, including a crawl-through wild cats’ den. (As I say though, it’s some years since we’ve been and I’m assuming it’s still open)

  2. This was already on my ever growing list of places to visit and now I want to go NOW! Hahaha

    Sounds stunning and you’ve taken some really lovely photos too. Always a bonus when you get a furry travel companion too.

  3. Beautiful photos! I miss it there and need to go back soon. It’s a wild remote paradise! Did you stay at the Rudh Dubh? What a view to wake up to 🙂

  4. Oh wow those white sand beaches could rival Barbados’ ones. I can’t believe that is Scotland. Absolutely stunning scenery

  5. I live in the south of England and every year I tell myself I will go to Scotland. These pictures contribute to my yearly promise that I will make true in 2017!!

  6. Goodness, these photos are stunning! I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland, but I had never heard about anyone’s personal experiences in the area. Need to get there ASAP 🙂

  7. Wow, it looks like such a beautiful part of the country! I plan on visiting Scotland again next year to see more of the rural areas like this so I’m definitely going to try and visit Ardnamurchan too!

  8. Looks sooo incredibly peaceful! I really would love to find somewhere where nobody knows it and just unplug!

  9. Thank you for sharing your pictures, I have not been to Scotland, although my Grandparents were from there. You really have made me want to pack up and go.

  10. Wow – I agree this place is truly amazing! Thanks for sharing a part of Scotland I had no idea about. So many places to see in this big world!

  11. Oh my goodness I cant wait to see what else you have in store for us as this is truly amazing scenery. The kind you could get lost in forever. I’m feeling my Scottish heritage stirring in me and telling me to head north sooner rather than later. Incredible. Thanks for sharing this beauty with us on #FarawayFiles

  12. Absolutely amazing! I have never heard of this place before! I am planning a West coast Road Trip up to John O Groats possibly next summer and I will definitely add Ardnamuchan to my list! Love seeing posts about Scotland 🙂

  13. This really looks amazing! How awesome that you have to put in a bit of effort to visit. These are the kind of places I love! That castle on an island and accessible on low tide is super cool too! This makes me want to go to Scotland ha! Love the photos!

  14. Oh my! What a beautiful place! It has most of the elements I enjoy in landscapes. I hope to visit one day (finger crossed I visit on a sunny day like you).

  15. Wow this looks beautiful! I never knew that Scotland had such beautiful beaches. The Scottish Highlands are high on my list for next years travels so I’m excited to read through your posts and make my itinerary!

  16. How do you do it, Kate? Every week you show us yet another wonderful undiscovered gem of Scotland, every post more beautiful than the last. Ardnamurchan looks absolutely beautiful. Delighted to have you share it with us on #FarawayFiles

  17. Oh my goodness, what a stunning place. It sounds so beautiful and you’ve got the pictures to match. Have you ever seen the northern lights from there? I keep trying to figure out where might be a good place in Scotland!

  18. This is on my bucket list! We nearly went last year but didn’t make it – it looks as beautiful as I expect (and you had great weather!)

  19. You’ve just shown me a new part of Scotland that I must see. Those images are stunning, and the fact that Adnamurchan is tricky to get to only makes it more appealing – worth the effort I’d say!

  20. So delicious these landscapes. Love them – dying to explore. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles this week, cheers from Copenhagen – Erin

  21. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Ardnamurchan but it is such a beautiful place and feels wonderfully wild and isolated. Your beautiful photos have taken me back there 🙂

  22. We just did the walk from Portuairk to Sanna and were joined by the same dog! I know it’s the same one because we also thought he was a Lion! He led the way and forced his way through the 2 gates!

    1. That’s amazing, I’m glad to hear the dog is still taking people on walks, he is a beauty!

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