Sunday, 23 January 2011

Seven Go Mad In Ardnamurchan

(Or more accurately, Seven Have a Nice Potter About in and around Loch Sunart)

Loch Sunart Twilight from Bun Allt Eachain

Day One

We, that is Nat & Sym, Pete Bod, Mum & Dad and me and Bev, set off from Cheltenham last Saturday for the wilds of Scotland. The roads were a mixed bag of wide empty motorway and narrow empty A road. The weather ran the full gamut from dark-bellied, brooding rain cloud to torrential sidepour (Downpour doesn't really describe what the wind was making the rain do.) After a three shortish stops, a ferry ride across Loch Linnhe and nine hours behind the wheel we arrived at our home for the week, Bun Allt Eachain.

What a place! The website really doesn't begin to do it justice; the fit and finish, the space, the location, the views, WOW! We were all immediately blown away by the place and would continue to be as the week went by.

However we had been on the road a long time so it was time to stake our claims for bedrooms, unpack, crack open a beer/wine, have a scoff (banana and parsnip curry, as you ask) and then completely relax in front of the log fire....

The Cottage.

Day Two...

... dawned somewhat grey and blustery. The loch was stormy looking and periodically squally showers blew through, depositing rain or hail depending on their mood. Having been on the go for most of the day before we were quite happy to have a lazy day and admire the views from behind the double glazing, whilst allowing the underfloor heating to warm our tootsies. Proper slumming it. The guys popped along to Strontian later to collect papers and beer (for thirst is a terrible thing) and on return we were excited to see that "our" cottage was in the Sunday Times Travel section article "Britain's Top 50 Cottages"! We ate more food, drank beer, played poker and Mario Cart Wii, and I popped out in between showers to enjoy the silence and freshest of air, and fire off a few pics at the same time.

The view from the front garden, looking west.

Day Three

View from our bedroom.

Time to go and see some stuff. The weather was still a little unsettled but we decided to do a loop that would hopefully give us a picture of the landscape. So we set off towards Salen and then turned north towards Acharacle and on towards Lochailort and eventually Mallaig. The views along Lochs Moidart and Ailort were beautiful and as we turned along the coast the islands of Rhum, Muck and Eigg filled the skyline, with the Cuillens adding to the splendour.

Eigg from Mallaig.

Mallaig is not the most attractive of towns (sorry all you Mallaigophiles, but there it is), so after a restorative drink and game of pool in the only pub or cafe we could find that was open we headed on towards Fort Bill, along past Loch Eilt, Glenfinnan and Loch Eil. What a stunning route that is. Sadly, the cloud drew in as we approached the Fort so the hoped views of Ben Nevis were curtailed. Some food, some browsing of outdoor gear shops and some shopping in Morrsions (for thirst is a terrible thing) and we were on our way back to the cottage. Round trip about 120 miles, with some stellar views. After the exertions of the day, Mum and Dad's Mexican feast was just what we needed!

Day Four

Pete, Sym and I had our sights set on Beinn Resipol, the mountain directly behind the house, and Tuesday was to be the day we did it. We set off mid-morning, and walked along to the campsite at Resipol and then followed the Allt Mhic Chiarain up through the woods. Eagle-eyed Pete spotted a very large bird circling higher up the mountain, which we diagnosed as a Golden Eagle (rightly or wrongly!) It was pretty big. Sadly, Syms new boots were causing him some discomfort so he decided to turn back after a couple of mile. Little did we realise at the time that he had triggered a bout of Flashy Footie Itis (or something) which is an inflamation of the instep. It would go on to cause him acute pain during the week, and mean a couple of visits to A&E in Fort William. Pete and I pressed on, but the lowering cloud and hail and snow showers that swept through meant we decided to head down rather than push on to the top today.

Lunch in a giant Sainsbury's bag, on the side of Beinn Resipol.

We used our descent to practice our navigation skills, which were not too bad. We were very pleased to hit the road by the house only 20 meters from our driveway! More details of our exploits on Beinn Resipol can be found here.

Day Five

A good day today. Just after breakfast, Bev spotted something small moving on the surface of the Loch from our bedroom window. It was a submeged otter. Pete and I grabbed binoculars and shot out to the little headland by the house and scanned the shoreline. Bingo! Pete saw it sheltering in the seaweed on one of the rocks with a fish in its mouth. Being noobie nature watchers we were very visible and after a minute or two of having breakfast time observed, the otter grew bored of our interest and slipped back in to the loch for a more secluded spot. Pretty awesome though. The next highlight involved a bit more driving. If you carry on west from Bun Allt Eachain for about 30 miles you get to the Point of Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point on mainland Britain (20 miles further west than Lands End, take that Cornwall!) So Bev, mum, dad and I headed off bright and early to have a gander. The weather was beautiful, with clear skies and warm (relatively) sun. What a beautiful drive, looking across the loch to Morvern and then Mull.

Camas Nan Geall

When we swung north we could see Eigg and Rhum before we swung back through wild and rugged country. We were the only people at the point and it was so good for the soul to enjoy the peace and the freshest air you could imagine. The panoramic view took in Mull, Tiree, Coll, Rhum, Muck and Eigg. No whales, dolphins or seals were seen but that didn't seem to matter. The return run, after a brief stop at the Community Centre in Kilchoan for cake and tea, was almost more stunning than the journey out. The low afternoon sun really brought the colours out of the landscape, and we oohed and aahed our way home.

Beinn Resipol

Tasty maple syrup-coated gammon, lovingly prepared by Nat, followed by Sym's famous Bannoffe pie meant bending was out of the question this evening.

Day Six

Pete and Ken slay the monster that is Beinn Resipol. As before, check out I'm Going For A Scuttle for full gory details! The others did something else, something way less cool than Beinn Resipol. The house was dark on our return, Nat was sat by the loch playing her guitar, Sym was finally sleeping after the painkillers started working and Bev, Mum and Dad were still out and about in Fort William and environs, enjoying the views of The Ben. Pete and I had to fend for ourselves so we fully rehydrated on our return (for thirst is a terrible thing) and then later, once everyone was together again, ate our fill of Tarragon Chicken and roast potatoes.

Day Seven

A little bit of pottering about this morning until Bev and I decided to do Singing Sands. We left the cottage at about twelve and twenty minutes later were parked at Arivegaig. Soon we were walking along the southern shore of Kentra Bay, before cutting through the moss-shrouded forest towards Camas an Lighe.

I wasn't joking about the moss.

This is a truly beautiful beach with white sand and black rocks, backed by dramatic hillsides of pine and heather.

Singing Sands (with some mute rocks)

More Singing Sands

After an hour of ambling back and forth, snapping away and enjoying the silence, we headed back to the car, and from there to the cottage. Following a Thai chicken curry, more poker, even more Mario Cart and helping Pete address the Scottish Beer Lake that was our fridge, it was time hit the hay in anticipation of our unwanted departure the next morning...

Loch Sunart in a nutshell.

Day Eight


We left at 8:10am, stopped for the obligatory photos of Glencoe,

Obligatory Glen Coe Pic

went to the Falkirk Wheel, stopped at Tebay services and were home by just after 6pm. Bah.


  1. great piks reet back at ya! Whats yr camera?

    And that place, that's the lap of luxury ;p

    Will be following yr tgoc plans apace too - maybe in a year or 2, for me....he says.

    all the best

  2. Hi Dave

    The views and close up-type pics were taken on my old Nikon D50 (the panoramas were stitched in PS Elements 8), the shots taken on Beinn Resipol were from a Fujifilm Finepix F70 EXR. To be honest, it's hard to take a bad photo in that part of the world!

    Keep me updated on your TGOC plans, might see you in 2012?