Last week we swapped our Cornish west coast for a west coast some 700 miles away in Scotland. We packed up the van, drove through the night, saw the dawn break in the east at just gone 3am and headed to the wild peninsula of Ardnamurchan.
Located south west of Fort William, in Lochaber, the peninsula spreads out to the west with views out over the islands of Coll and Tiree, Muck, Eigg and Rum, whilst on the southern shores it flanks Loch Sunnart with views over to Mull.
You can cross the peninsula from north to south in just 10-15 minutes drive via a single track road that climbs up through an ancient volcanic landscape. On the far North West coast the sandy white bays of Sanna and Portuarik shelter out of the easterly winds, with turquoise waters perfect for swimming. Whilst the lighthouse at Point of Ardnamurchan marks the most westerly point on the UK mainland, here sheer cliffs fall away into the sea and the sun sinks deep and low on the western horizon.
Kilchoan sits on the south coast, and being on the bus route, with a shop, little harbour and public toilets, plus a (slightly down at heel) hotel bar, it’s the hub of the area – you’d need to drive all the way to Acharacle to beat the facilities on offer here. The view reaches out over water busy with sailing boats, fishing and ferries, with mountainous rise all around. And despite sitting with its back to the sunset, if it’s a clear evening – as it was when we were there – the luminous light pours through the hills behind and hits Mull and Morvern in the foreground.
It was here that we spotted Minke Whales. It must have been a special light, at dusk and not long before dark, that allowed us to pick out their huge shadows moving just below the surface of the water. Every now and then we’d see the water break a little as they changed direction or blew water. At one point we spotted seven, all apparently working together to shoal fish, and accompanied by sea birds that seemed to be taking part in the fishing extravaganza.
For more information: http://www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk/