Ardnamurchan is a region that evokes the image of remoteness, ruggedness and unspoilt beauty. It has been used to refer to both the Ardnamurchan peninsula (a peninsula approximately 130 km2 and extending from Acharacle to the most westerly point on British mainland) and, more recently, to a broader region that embraces the surrounding regions of Moidart, Sunart, Ardgour and Morvern.
The Gaelic name Àird nam Murchan has variously been translated as 'height of the great seas' or' headland of the seals' and reflects the interconnectedness of the land with the sea. The peninsula has an extensive coastline and a maritime climate. The landscape of the Ardnamurchan peninsula is rugged and austere, particularly so in the west; it is truly the realm of the red deer, wild cat and golden eagle. Ardnamurchan also hosts some of the most stunning beaches, such as those at Sanna and Bay MacNeil with silvery sands lapped by turquoise seas, as well as some fine stretches of rocky shoreline. In the east, the grassland and moorland give way to Atlantic oak woodland, with rich ground floras and trees strewn with an abundance of lichens and mosses.
The Ardnamurchan peninsula is also a land shaped by volcanic activity with the remains of three volcanic centres and multiple Tertiary igneous intrusions into the Moine Schists; a real treat for the geologist. Explore the remains of this ancient volcano by visting the deserted village of Glendrian.
The main settlement on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in the west is Kilchoan, which is the most westerly village on the mainland and supports the Kilchoan Community Centre (with doctor's surgery, tourist information centre, café and gift shop), general store, hotel/pub (Kilchoan House Hotel), two churches and a coastguard station. There is also a ferry port at Mingary Pier, with a ferry service to Mull. There are some other small hamlets further west.
To the east lies the village of Salen with its inn, craft shop, jetty and anchorage facilities, and to the north east the village of Acharacle, with its fine dining restaurant, post-office, bakery, take-away and general store, as well as hotel, B&B and self catering accommodation. The name Acharacle is derived from the Gaelic Ath Thorguil, referring to Torquil’s ford. At a nearby ford across the River Shiel, the Norse invader, Torquil and his followers were defeated by the Celtic warrior, Somerled in 1120. Other settlements in the area include Laga, Glenborrodale, Glenmore, Portuairk, Sanna, Okle and Kilmory.
Ardnamurchan Point (Rubha Aird nam Murchan), meaning the headland of the ‘height of the dead dogs’ is approximately 10 km from Kilochoan, and supports Ardnamurchan lighthouse built in 1845 and Visitor Centre and coffee shop. This is a great place for spotting cetaceans and basking sharks, as well as exploring the workings of the lighthouse with its greco-themed buildings . There is an interesting exhibition on the geology and the flora and fauna of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
Ardnamurchan was the land of Maclains, whose thirteen century stronghold, Mingary Castle, is strategically located on a high rocky promontory approximately 2km south east of the village of Kilchoan. The Castle stands as a sombre testament to warfare and the changing fortunes and prominence of the Highland Clans.
Other attractions on route include Nadurra, formerly the Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre, that showcases the wildlife and landcape of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, with information, interactive exhibits and live footage of a nearby heronry.
There are some lovely coastal and hill walks along the peninsula, for example, Fascadale and Port Eigin-aig, Portuairk to Sanna and Singing Sands, and Glenborrodale Nature Trail. There are also guided walks around the RSPB at Glenborrodale in season.
There are some lovely cycle rides in the area including the 5km route between Kentra and the Singing Sands.
There is a great selection of holiday accommodation in the Ardnamurchan, ranging from self-catering cottages, lodges and estate properties on the Ardnamurchan peninsula through to luxury hotels, guest houses and B&B. Make your holiday an Ardnamurchan holiday this year.
Ardnamurchan is a place for losing yourself and embracing remoteness and tranquillity. Take time to explore the wonderful landscape and its iconic wildlife of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.