Via Arisaig & Morar.
If you decide to visit Mallaig, taking your car rather than the train, then take the A830 from Fort William – this 46-mile-long road, known as Road to the Isles is pure delight. Beware there are many twists and turns, but the views are so worth it. Along the route make sure you stop off at the Glenfinnan Viaduct for your kodak moment when the Hogwarts steam train comes whistling and puffing into sight (check timetables and make sure you get there with plenty of time to spare as parking spaces can be at a premium), or check out the Glenfinnan Station Museum Dining car, (five minutes away) although we haven’t eaten there, the reviews are good.
Continue onto Arisaig with its amazing views, displaying the many skerries surrounded by clear blue waters. This delightful village, just south of Mallaig, with pretty houses, rocky coastline and white sandy beaches, definitely a good base for exploring. You will find a small car park, free toilets, several eateries and shops. Find time to pop into the Land, Sea & Islands Centre with its wide range of displays and artefacts whilst learning about local history. Open daily and free to visit.
On a clear day you can see the Isles of Rum and Eigg. Visit the marina, have a coffee and a bite to eat in the café and gift shop, while waiting for a cruise over to the small isles, or to scope out the abundance of marine wildlife, from puffins, grey seals, basking sharks to the majestic Minke whales and dolphins. Weather dependant, sign up for sea kayaking with a guided trip, for beginners or the more experienced.
Just down the road brings you to the scenic ‘coastal road’ (B8008), on the banks of the river Moidart as it enters the Sounds of Arisaig. Here you will discover the most breathtaking string of beaches that line the shores. The largest being Camusdarach, with its arc of glistening white sands, cold clear waters, and spectacular views to the jagged crest of Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye. Backed by dunes, this stunningly palpable vista is a swimmer’s dream. Wild camping is allowed, and so are dogs, but please pick up your rubbish, don’t spoil this idyll for others.
Parking isn’t easy, there are a few places along the roadside and a small car park with free toilet facilities (donations gratefully accepted). Please park responsibly and respectfully and be aware of the delicate covering of machair. The beach is best explored at low water and extends for almost a mile. A coastal walk takes you to Arisaig, again best done at low tide, head across the wooden bridge and through the gate onto the sandy path, as signposted. There are many B&B’s, holiday cottage rentals, horse riding and campsites to be found along this road.
Tearing yourself away, continue onto Mallaig. If you can’t find a parking space in the main carpark, try up the hill behind the train station, toilets can be found at the village hall. There are many good restaurants, most serving delicious fish and chips (always a winner). During the summer, the town is buzzing and can be very busy, with some queueing expected for food. After having a meal, pop along to the harbour with its many fishing boats, resident seals and cruises. Jump on a ferry to Skye, or take in the Western Isles or discover the marine wildlife from a boat trip.
I hope that my writing and hubby’s photos will inspire you and make you want to see for yourself the untamed mountains with their own unique charm and character whilst embracing the sense of calm and belonging. Love it as much as we do.