Exploring

First priority when on holiday is to Relax….. But after a few hours of that …. then what ?

Local walks.

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Until the mid 20th century all heavy and bulky things in this area were moved by boat. Roads were very poor and most people would have travelled between communities by boat or on foot. This has left us with a network of access foot paths and pony tracks. Ardnamurchan is blessed with some wonderful walking routes.

A guide to some more popular local trails is available in local shops. This provides O.S.map co-ordinates and outlines both short and long routes. Some are mere strolls along forestry paths; others include more testing scrambles to more remote peaks and glens.

 

 Local History.

Evidence of some of the earliest habitation in Scotland is to be found along this coast. The remains of Iron Age forts, Viking farms and field systems, early Christian churches and medieval Castles are dotted across the region. Recently Ardnamurchan made international news when the site of a Viking boat burial was excavated on north coast of the peninsular. Unique treasures and historically important artifacts were recovered. More information on archeology sites on the Ardnamurchan peninsular can be found on the website of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project.

Local Ecology.

The hillsides around Loch Sunart are a unique habitat. Ancient Oak woodlands clad the slopes. Exploited for charcoal during the 17th and 18th centuries – used for iron smelting further south – more recently full SSSI protection of these woodlands has been managed by the Sunart Oak Woodlands project. The preservation of this unique habitat, while carefully managing access and any commercial exploitation, will ensure the conservation of native fauna and flora. Many walking trails have been set up, and weekly guided woodland walks with the local rangers are available. More information can be found on the Sunart Oakwoods website.

The Forestry Commission has also created access for the public to many remoter areas. Through some forests, trails for those with Mountain bikes have been established. For a list of cycle routes, click here.

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Bird Watching.

Ardnamurchan is on the annual migration routes for many species. The tranquil lochs and hillsides are home to some of the more unusual British coastal, inland and sea bird colonies. The RSPB has established its own reserve and woodland walk near Glenborrodale.

 

Geopark.

Lochaber was designated as a Geopark, but due to recent cutbacks no longer receives funding as one. Some of the world’s most ancient rocks are to be found on the surface in this area. Recent satellite imaging has confirmed what the earlier map-makers and geologists had already determined. The west end of the peninsular is composed of massive volcanic remains. The much eroded caldera of an immense prehistoric Volcano lies to the north of Kilchoan. Other peaks in the immediate area …the Coulin on Skye, the peaks on Rum, and on Mull, are relics of similar igneous activity.

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The worldwide online exchange of GPS ‘geocache’ co-ordinates has definitely reached the west highlands! People with a GPS receiver can explore far and near in the hope of reaching the secret locations of geocaches that others have created around this area.

Whale watch, Dolphin watch.

The seas around Ardnamurchan are frequently host to the larger marine mammals. Seal colonies can be found in the entrances to sea lochs. Porpoise and Dolphin are regular visitors.Minkie whales, and occasionally Killer whales, have also been spotted. Basking sharks are starting to return in numbers to local waters after many decades of persecution. Those who take a boat trip should always keep their eyes open. Regular day trips to the Islands of Rum,Eigg and Muck can be joined from Arisaig. Scheduled ferries around the small isles and to Skye run from Mallaig. Organised whale watching trips run from Tobermory in season. More information can be found here.

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