Ask anyone that’s been to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula how they would describe it and they will probably use the words; wild, unspoilt, beautiful and remote. None of those would be wrong but you might think they are describing a secluded island, not mainland U.K. Even though the peninsula is not an island the area does have a distinct island feel. The fact that one of the easiest ways to access this remote location is by boat, you could easily be forgiven for thinking you’d left the mainland all together.
The hustle and bustle of Fort William can be forgotten in the short space of time (less than 5minutes) it takes the Corran Ferry to cross the rushing waters of Loch Linnhe. Running roughly every 30minutes and being easily accessible it makes getting to the peninsula almost effortless.
It is worth mentioning the roads here on the peninsula, especially after the village of Strontian. Once through Strontian the road becomes single track all the way through to the point or up until you meet the road to Mallaig through Glen Uig. These winding single tracks that hug the coast and take you through arches of Sunart oaks just further highlight the remoteness of the area. Whilst they can seem daunting if you haven’t experienced them before there are plenty of passing places to pull into to make way for oncoming traffic. Also remember to pull in and let the faster local traffic pass. Just take steady. it’s all a part of the Ardnamurchan experience.
There are plenty of places along the way to stop off and take a break from driving, Ariundle woods in Strontian have a real magical feel, you could be anywhere in the world! Stopping off to stretch your legs here is like stepping into a rainforest, and no that’s not because of the weather! The forests, particularly the native woodlands, are lush and green with expanses of dense foliage that seem to cover the floor, right up to the tree tops with ferns lining the old oak branches. The constant birdsong adding a certain ambience and making it even easier to forget you’re still on the mainland. They are also amazing hideaways for some of the wildlife in the area; home to deer, pine martens and badgers to name a few, it’s a perfect excuse to stop for a while and see what comes along. It’s incredible to think that these woodlands were once part of the old Caledonian forest that stretched right across to Europe, these beautiful old trees really are special.
A final hint at faraway islands are the area’s numerous white sand beaches. With beaches like Sanna Bay and Singing sands that offer long stretches of unspoilt sand and turquoise waters the rest of the U.K seems a million miles away. The crystal waters, in almost ready-made pools, make ideal locations for rock pooling, or snorkelling – a wetsuit is advisable, it’s not quite the Caribbean! Alternatively, they are an ideal spot for lazy afternoon picnics and staring out to sea in the hope of seeing a passing pod of dolphins.
Whilst you might not actually be on an island, there is enough here to convince you that you are. A visit to the Ardnamurchan peninsula is the perfect excuse to turn off your phone (you might not get the best reception anyway), and tune into everything around you; from the stunning scenery, the glorious wildlife and the laid back approach to living. It’s all about taking it slow, taking it all in and making the most of island life without ever having to leave the mainland.
Text and Photo by Jeni Bell