Towards the end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the 528m (1,732ft) high Ben Hiant is a wonderful vantage point on this the country’s most westerly landmass.
The Latin from which the word peninsula is derived – paene inslua (almost island) – applies well to Ardnamurchan.
Here, in the north-west Highlands, its chunky, rugged, finger extends ever farther to give a sense of remoteness commonly found off-shore.
Getting there is best done at a slow pace, given the singletrack roads and numerous attractions. The most popular point of entry to the peninsula is via the Corran Ferry which plies the waters of Loch Linnhe. From there, you’ll pass Strontian, named after the 1790 discovery of the element Strontium, and then travel across Loch Sunart.
Beside its shores, Glenborrodale RSPB reserve helps sustain one of Europe’s last remaining Atlantic oakwoods – home to more than 50 rare species of plants and animals that thrive in the damp climate, including important mosses, liverworts and lichens.
Beyond, the Nádurra (Nature) Centre hosts exhibits on the area’s rich geology with
a superb aerial photo of the
Great Eucrite Crater.
Thus, knowledge-armed, follow the road as it veers inland climbing high up the slopes of Ben Hiant leaving an easily manageable ascent of some 335m (1,100ft). Park at the wide track just off the B8007.
Off we go
The walk begins opposite the tarmac area, on a small gravel track that veers right and heads uphill towards its easy north-east ridge. These are grassy slopes that are best traversed, if possible,
after a period of dry weather.
Keep your eyes peeled for the flora, which together with the hill’s geological features, has given it the status of a Special Site of Scientific Interest. Look out for dense fronds of woolly hair moss and the glossy green leaves of the crowberry plant, which will now have purple or black berries.
As you head upwards, look for signs of pine martens and red deer, and peering skywards, you may spot raptors (including golden eagles) and corvids.
Climb up through steeper ground for views down to the bay of Camas nan Geall and the deserted village of Bourblaige.
This settlement, like so many parts of Scotland, was subject to the reprehensible Highland Clearances of the 19th century when men, women and children were thrown off the land, never to return, to make way for sheep. Parallel lines
of ‘lazy beds’ where potatoes were once grown remain to
this day by the stone buildings of this ghost village.
Sight for sore eyes
Congratulate yourself for reaching the summit and drink in the stupendous panoramic view, which is very much the pinnacle of this walk.
The islands of Muck, Eigg and Rum draw the eye, as does the mountainous profile of Knoydart among views to the isles of Mull, Coll and Tiree.
To return, simply retrace your route to the start. However, if you wish to to visit the most westerly part of the British mainland while in the area, head across the peninsula.
The Point of Ardnamurchan, with its 36m (1,181ft) high lighthouse, is widely acknowledged as the furthest point, but actually, Corrachadh Mór, about half an hour’s walk to the south, sits a further 200m into the sea.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car, take the Corran Ferry (shuttle) by the A82 south of Fort William and follow the road west past Glenborrodale. Park at the wide track just off the B8007. By public transport, the Corran Ferry is served by long haul and more local buses. From Onich on the northern shore of Loch Linnhe take the Shiel bus number 506 (Fort William to Kilchoan service).
0871 200 2233
FIND OUT MORE
Caledonian MacBrayne Hebridean and Clyde Ferries
0800 066 5000
Kilchoan, Argyll PH36 4LN
Spend an evening or stay at this working farm, serving local ales and produce with a smile.
Argyll PH36 4JG
Bring yourself and the family closer to nature with a trip to this fascinating centre dedicated to Scotland’s unique and exciting array of wildlife.
OS Explorer 390
Grid reference: NM 551 641