Exploring Ardnamurchan with Jen

Just after Easter, Jen and I had an awesome few days in Ardnamurchan, the region south-west of Fort William which is technically part of the mainland but feels like the Outer Hebrides.We were exceptionally lucky with the weather, which was spectacularly good for the whole time. We stayed at the excellent Ariundle Centre in Strontian, which is a combined craft centre, cafe-restaurant and bunkhouse run by the indefatigable Kate.

Shortly after arriving, we visited the Whitesmith lead mine, where strontium was first discovered (see The Strontium Story). Then on our first full day we travelled to Ardnamurchan Point – the most westerly part of the British mainland, which required driving through increasingly wild countryside. We found afterwards that we had just missed the large volcanic crater whose geological history defines the region – that’ll have to be a future trip! We found an easy path from Portuairk to Sanna which gave some most picturesque views of the coast and islands.

View from Partauirk towards Muck and Skye.

View from Partauirk towards Muck and Skye.

View near Sanna at the end of Ardnamurchan, looking towards Skye and Rhum

View near Sanna at the end of Ardnamurchan, looking towards Muck, Skye and Rhum

On the next day we climbed Beinn Resipol, a peak close to the north shore of Loch Sunart which is renowned for great views from the top. It’s rugged with no clear paths, and it gets steadily steeper as one ascends to the summit ridge: but the views are indeed exceptional. The panorama is dominated by Loch Sunart to the south and Loch Shiel to the north-west, with mountains all round, and sea views to some of the islands of the inner Hebrides. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s become one of my favourite peaks!

Loch Sunart from Beinn Resipol

Loch Sunart from Beinn Resipol

Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol, with Muck, Rhum and Skye in the background.

Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol, with Muck, Rhum and Skye in the background.

Jen near the top of Beinn Resipol

Jen near the top of Beinn Resipol

On our final morning – before moving up to Aviemore – we went on a dawn trip to the shores of Loch Sunart to look for interesting wildlife. We stopped for a while at the Garbh Eilean Wildlife Hide, and had a clear but somewhat distant sighting of an otter travelling from one of the small islands in front of the hide.

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