- The most westerly mainland Point of Scotland -
Ardna-what? When the plannings for a trip to Ardnamurchan were at the beginning, it was quite difficult to get information about this peninsula. Special thanks to Brenda from www.west-scotland-tourism.com. However, here is a map showing where Ardnamurchan is.
Ardnamurchan peninsula, the most westerly point on the British mainland. The winding A861 runs west from Strontian along the north shore of Loch Sunart to Salen, where the single-track B8007 branches west and runs all the way out to the tip of the peninsula. The A861 turns north to Acharacle. Kilchoan is the main settlement on Ardnamurchan. Yes, a traffic-light is there, too. It can be found close to the lighthouse. Sofar in brief, but it is much more....
On our way from the North we pass Thurso and follow the A9 along the eastern coast of Scotland. At Helmdale we slow down due to road-works. It seems like the journey would never end. We have estimated five hours to reach Ardnamurchan, however we stop for a break near Loch Ness.
There are so many buses with Japanese tourists that there is no chance to make a stop at Drumnadrochit. However, we have already been there twice and there is no need for another visit....
Via Fort Augustus and Fort William we reach the Corran Ferries. We drive straight onto the ferry which costs PDS 5,20 for all of us including the car. We see the lighthouse near the Ardgour Hotel and a lonely ride begins. The rain is getting more heavy but that does not matter at all, because the landscape looks mystic this way.
After passing Salen we know that we cannot miss our destination since this long and winding road is all we can follow. The mountains disappear in the fog while we feel like driving helter skelter. At least the kids like this kind of journey while the driver has to watch carefully for approaching traffice.
After Glenborrodale Loch Sunart appears to our left and the turbulent drive goes on. S-bends decorated with an eternal up and down, again and again the typical sound of driving over caddle-grids. Somewhere now the extint vulcan Ben Hiant should be seen, but wafts of mist do not allow any view.
Short way through the forrest and we first reach Branault, then Kilmory, and finally Air-An-Oir, which means “On the Edge”. The owner, Miss Adam, was not able to wait for us, but the key is in an envelope. We are happy: the most beautiful and cosiest cottage we ever visited.
Everything is neat, nothing is missing. The landscape is simply grand, we have wonderful view to the Bay Port an Eilean Mhoir.
Miss Adam rings up to give a few hints. At the piano in the living room we discover a video: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. What a lovely way to finish the day.
Breakfasts are to follow with beautiful views to the bay. Far away we can see the Isle of Muck, Rum, Eigg, and Skye, somewhere to the right would be Arisaig. Fascinating to see all the lights and lighthouses during the nights.
It is low tide and we are visiting an interesting small lava island. With wet feet we start our way home, passing grazing horses, and take a look at Swordle Bay Ho.
Two kind ladies are showing us the library: a whole wall full of books in German language! They belong to the previous owner, a certain Mr. Hammel.
- unknown Peninsula-
In the afternoon as a change fog comes up. Within an hour the sun has to give room to the mist. It’s impressive, and finally we cannot see ahead more than 30 m.
When the rest of the family is asleep I start a walk in the dark misty landscape. No monsters to be met with the exeption of a hedgehog.
Christopher has been hit by a tick. We drive to Kilchoan and find a nurse at the tourist office. We could not extract the tick and so she takes over. She uses a special ointment and asks us to come back an hour later. So we do, and off comes the rest of the tick.
The night fog is gone, warm sunshine welcomes us in the morning. So that’s the time to go to the ferry port and take the “Loch Lynne” ferry to Tobermory, leaving ab 11.45 h. Some sheep almost put a spoke in our wheel, blocking the street for endless minutes.
After the sheep left we can go on and see a herd of stags near to Kilchoan. A few days later a local man tells me that the stags are to be seen at that place quite regularly. He also mentions two wildcats who are said to be on the peninsula.
On our arrival in Tobermory, it pours. The houses here have always been very colourful which was probably one of the reasons the childrens programme 'Balamory' used it.
We can see the most colourful post office in the world and wonder at the word “Delicatessen”, obviously a German leanword. In some far off pub we take our lunch.
Though we can get Internet connection here, the pub is quite empty. We call up our mails, make some shoppings and travel back home at 15.30 h.
When leaving by ferry, a curious vehicle passes us, a kind of motorized raft.
- unknown Peninsula-
At noon we leave for Ockle to see the waterfall – and pass a lonely house. Not a soul is to be met, except the sheep, of course – this is pure lonelyness. We would have liked to go on to Gortenfern to the “Singing Sands”, but the road does not look very inviting, and we do not have proper shoes for this sodden path.
We run out of petrol. Exactly 20 litres for exactly 20 pounds at an ethnic pumping station at Kilchoan.
On we go via Acharacle and pay a visit to James and his Moidart Smokehouse at Dalnabreck whom I contacted by e-mail a few days ago. We find him some way off the town, and he cuts fresh salmon for us. He tells about some Germans, Ulrich and Marie, and about Bodo from Friesland who are living on Ardnamurchan. And he tells us about a smokehouse at Fascadale whose owner vanished some time ago.
From there we go to Castle Tioram and we are lucky. It’s low tide and we can walk to the castle.
Now only the „Singing Sand“ of Gortenfern has to be visited and we want to go there from this side.
After enjoying fish and chips we drive along the Bay of Kentra as far as possible.
Unfortunately there is only a foot path, and the kids are not willig to walk a mere 6 miles to and fro. So we go back home.
It is a fantastic landscape, we see a few waterfalls.
Somehow it is at the same time marvellous and threatening: every evening the mist comes creeping up.
It starts at about 20.00 h, and a song from Paul McCartney goes through my head: “…oh, mist rolling in from the sea…” Now I know what he meant.
The foot-lazy kids stay at the cottage with the walkie-talkie while Martina and I go to Kilmory to send off some postcards. A short visit to the beach, but we are glad we did not take the kids, for there is quite a lot of seaweeds lying around.
On our way back we take a look at the small, circular graveyard. And would you believe it: in 2001 Dieter Hammel (the one with the German books) has been buried here at the age of 69.
As matter of fact it isn’t a bad idea to choose this peninsula for a living place after retirement. A lot of elderly people are living here. The younger ones have gone away because there is hardly any work to get at Ardnamurchan.
The weather looks fine and I want to see Fascadale. As the kids are still sleepy, Martina and I are going on our own. Close to Kilchoan a herd of deer is crossing the road, followed by sheep.
Fascadale is a large, stony bay. High tide and not much beach to be seen. 3 cottages and an old smokehouse make up the village – oh, and a parking lot, of course.
This is the smokehouse James Gillies told us about. What might have happened here? A few weeks ago I took a look at the homepage of this smokehouse and was informed that the self-caught fish is only sent on order.
- unknown Peninsula-
We leave the riddle about the smokehouse of Fascadale behind us and drive on to the lighthouse near Portuairk. The weather is at its best when after another up and down drive we reach a small road with a 1 m high stone boundary.
The island’s single street light shows green and we drive up a serpentine to the lighthouse. On our arrival I really do wonder who told me that up here it is so lonely that 2 cares per week are a lot of traffic. We count 20 cars and lots of tourists in bermuda shorts.
However, we get a view on Coll Island of the inner and far out Barra and South Uist of the outer Hebrides. Scones with butter and jam in a charming tearoom finishes the excursion. Back at the cottage we are welcomed by pouring rain.
Perhaps the most beautiful landscape of Ardnamurchan is at the western headland and so we go to Sanna bay, „Sanna“ just meaning „sandy“.
A few miles bring us to our goal. There is a parking lot and we see a barn having Guantanamo Bay written on it.
Following a gorgeous dune landscape we cross a small river and find ourselves at a gigantic beach.
This is much better than Bettyhill and reminds me of Amrum island. We collect shells and fly our kites. And so helter-skelter back to the cottage.
Misty clouds over the hills and no sun to be seen. One last time we walk the beach at our door. It is called “Port of Eilean Mhoir”. In the evening Mary Adam rings up, we exchange descriptions of cars and plate numbers. Maybe we meet tomorrow on our way back.
The last things are packed, we are leaving at 9.25 h. Between the 13th and 14th cattle grid after Salen we make a halt. Suddenly another car stops, Mary and her father are getting out. Both are very charming people. We have a long chat, take pictures of each other – hope to see you again!
On we got to the Corran-Ferrie, and bright sunshine accompanies our passage.
Follows romantic Glencoe, to be enjoyed somewhat longer because of a roadworks’ stop. On the way I longingly see the signpost to Kinloch Rannoch, but we have been there several times so it has to wait until the next visit.
At about 15.00 h we reach Pitlochry and the idyllic Dunmurray Lodge. We have booked the Murray-side – a room with TV and double bed, a separate room with the kids’ single beds.
We go downtown to look for a sword and sporran. A small sporran we do find, but after a rich meal and the visit to a leisure park no money for a sword is left.