A moderate-level, 8km-walk (5 miles) along the sandy and rocky shores of north-west Scotland.
The west coast of Scotland is renowned for its string of beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring views. Nowhere is this better exemplified than the five gorgeous miles between the idyllic village of Arisaig and the undisturbed beauty of Camusdarach beach, which bookend a breathtaking stretch of coastline.
Camusdarach beach is a dazzling arc of brilliant white sand with the intense blue waters of the Sound of Sleat drawing your eye towards the horizon. On the skyline sits the conspicuous crest of Eigg, the jagged contours of Rum, and the towering Cuillins of Skye.
Camusdarach beach near Arisaig ©Getty
This particular spot has had many admirers over the years, including the makers of the quintessential Scottish movie Local Hero and the popular television series Hamish Macbeth, both of which were filmed here. Furthermore, Camusdarach is an extremely popular setting for marriages and, when the weather is fair, I doubt there is any better place for nuptials.
The five-mile walk between Arisaig and Camusdarach takes around 2½ hours (although you could spend all day exploring at a leisurely pace) and, once at Camusdarach, regular buses travel back to Arisaig.
1 Arisaig village
In the early 19th century, Arisaig was a thriving community with fishing and crofting playing crucial roles in its economy. But, like much of the Scottish Highlands, it was devastated by the Highland Clearances, with over 1,000 Arisaig crofters being forced from their lands to make way for sheep, before relocating to Nova Scotia.
Although fishing and crofting still play a minor role in Arisaig’s economy, tourism is now the mainstay for this small village. The breathtaking landscape is a haven for anyone wanting to get away from it all, its lure to the holidaymaker patently obvious.
Scottish coast village of Arisaig in Scotland ©Getty
Facing Loch nan Ceall (which was the scene of a battle in 1746 between French ships, sent to help the Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden, and the Royal Navy), turn right, walk past the Arisaig Hotel and then left into a minor road signposted for Arisaig cemetery. Follow the road to a small car park, then climb a path past St Mary’s church to reach a quiet road. Turn left, follow this, enjoying exceptional views, past Back of Keppoch to reach the entrance to the Invercaimbe Caravan and Campsite.
2 Caimbe to Traigh
Turn left and follow a track through the site to reach Caimbe beach. From here the route travels over Caribbean-like white sand, passing rocky coves and granting a wonderful sense of isolation. Your only company comes in the form of majestic white-tailed eagles and busy otters. The views, both nearby and distant, never fail to inspire.
The coast at Keppoch, north of Arisaig ©Getty
A rougher path skirts Portnaluchaig, which will be easily negotiated by most but can be avoided by simply following the quiet road past Portnaluchaig to reach the scattering of houses that makes up Traigh. The village is home to what must be Scotland’s most picturesque golf course, with views of Eigg, Rum and the Cuillins of Skye.
At Traigh, head down onto the beach to enjoy the final mile of the walk, following a mixture of soft sand and grassy paths, to Camusdarach beach. High dunes mask any sign of life, and it’s the perfect spot to stop and marvel that such a place still exists – the best has certainly been saved until last.
A short hop over the dunes leads to the car-park and the bus back to Arisaig where a plate of delicious, fresh, locally caught seafood at The Old Library Lodge provides the perfect conclusion to an idyllic walk.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route
How to Get There
Arisaig is 36 miles west of Fort William and seven miles south of Mallaig on the A830. Arisaig has its own railway station.
The Old Library Lodge, Main Street, Arisaig, Lochaber PH39 4NH
Situated in the heart of the village, The Old Library Lodge serves mouthwatering, locally sourced food including venison, scallops and monkfish.
The Arisaig Hotel, Main Street, Arisaig, Lochaber PH39 4NH
Sitting on the banks of Loch nan Ceall, The Arisaig Hotel’s 13 distinctive, comfortable rooms provide a great vantage point to enjoy an amazing Arisaig sunset.
The Road to the Isles culminates at Mallaig, which is home to a multitude of fantastic shops and restaurants and is the main ferry port for sailings to Skye and the Small Isles.