Rum, Eigg and Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol

Rum, Eigg and Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol

It’s interesting how sometimes places catch you unaware and my trip to Ardnamurchan this weekend was a revelation.

The Ardnamurchan peninsular – the westernmost part of the Scottish mainland that juts out with the islands of Mull and Skye to the south and north respectively – was a place that really hasn’t been on my radar until now. Why would it be ? There are no munros, no towns and no major tourist attractions. But the very fact that it is off the beaten track is its appeal. Put it a different way: Ardnamurchan has few visitors, fantastic land and seascapes, and an relaxing ‘island’ pace of life. Although it’s only a ten minute ride across Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry, just south of Fort William, you’re immediately away from the crowds and in a different place altogether.

Being there on a couple of glorious October days certainly made a difference. The sun shone from dawn to dusk and the sparkling, still weather showed off the scenery at its very best.

I took a walk at the Ariundle Oakwoods, just to the north of Strontian (yes, the village that gave its name to the element Strontium).  There’s a nice 90 minute walk beside the river just north of the Ariundle Centre (with a tea shop and toilets) and the oak leaves were just starting to change colour.

Ariundle Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Ariundle Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Ariundle Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Ariundle Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Beinn Resipol across the bay from Strontian

Beinn Resipol across the bay from Strontian

I camped for the night at Resipole Farm Campsite – one of my Top 10 Scottish campsites – which overlooks Loch Sunart.  The sunset views that night were just stunning.  And do you see the heron at the bottom of the picture ?

Ardnamurchan sunset

Ardnamurchan sunset

Moonlight in Ardnamurchan

Moonlight in Ardnamurchan

The main reason for my visit was to climb the Corbett, Beinn Resipol (no, I can’t explain why the spelling of Resipol(e) differs – but it just does).  There are two main routes up the hill, the first from near the Ariundle Centre beside Strontian in the east and this route, which starts just behind the campsite Reception at Resipole.

It had been a clear, frosty night and so when I ventured up through the oak and birch woods there were still patches of frost being slowly melted by the low-angled sunlight.  It was a glorious day for a walk: almost windless, still warm sunshine and crystal clear visibility.  I lost the path in the middle section of the ascent and ended up following deer tracks (in fact, the WalkHighlands route suggests crossing the stream but then failed to mention having to cross back again; I discovered on my descent that the main path is on the eastern side of the Allt Mhic Chiarain).  I then ended up following the stream to Lochan Bac an Lochain, to the south of the peak, rather than to the north.  Not to worry; a stiff 250m climb took me directly up to the summit.

Sunart Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Sunart Oakwoods, Ardnamurchan

Autumn oakwoods

Autumn oakwoods

First glimpse of Beinn Resipol

First glimpse of Beinn Resipol

And the fact that I’d deviated from the main route a little made the direct ascent of the summit all the more special.  For when I topped out I was suddenly faced with such an amazing view.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was the best view of any mountain I’ve climbed in Scotland – including all of the munros.

Since Beinn Resipol is an isolated peak, the view from the summit gives a 360 degree panorama of the Inner and Outer Hebrides, with Ben Nevis, the Mamores and the Glencoe hills all visible in the east.  The sharp peaks of the Rum and Skye Cuillins stood out in their full glory, 30 miles away, while the hills of South Uist were just visible 70 miles out.  I soaked in the marvellous views while having a relaxed lunch, before three more walkers arrived from the Strontian direction necessitating a hurried exit.

Rum, Eigg and Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol

Rum, Eigg and Loch Shiel from Beinn Resipol

Eigg (foreground) and Rum (background)

Eigg (foreground) and Rum (background)

The Black Cuillin mountains of Skye

The Black Cuillin mountains of Skye

Loch Sunart

Loch Sunart

Ardnamurchan land and seascape

Ardnamurchan land and seascape

A last glimpse of Eigg and Rum on the way down

A last glimpse of Eigg and Rum on the way down

Ardnamurchan panorama

Ardnamurchan panorama

It’s on days like this that you feel truly alive, privileged to enjoy views like this.  It’s difficult to put into words.  There’s the rush of adrenaline on getting to the summit, followed by the satisfaction of taking in the fantastic views.  But in such perfect walking weather the emotions are heightened considerably.  Before my solitude was interrupted by some more walkers I had felt as though I was (almost) the only person alive.

So Beinn Resipol and Ardnamurchan generally had been a revelation.  I’ll certainly be back to climb the Rois-Bheinn hills a little further north and to drive out to the white sand beach at Sanna.  I didn’t get a chance to go kayaking on this trip but Loch Sunart and some of the other sheltered sea lochs look very inviting.  I can only hope that not many people read my evangelising, since I want Ardnamurchan to stay one of Scotland’s hidden gems.

15 Comments on “Hidden Gems – Beinn Resipol and Ardnamurchan

    • Thanks very much, Stuart. I couldn’t have asked for better weather or scenery – it was just jaw-droppingly beautiful. I’ll be back to Ardnamurchan for sure.

  1. Absolutely wonderful. I was staying in Resipole last weekend and climbed a couple of the Ardgour Corbetts earlier in the year. It is a very special part of the country and those views you got were superb.

  2. When the weather is kind, there’s no place like this area – and my beloved Mull. I remember one October half term, the weather was so warm and sunny, the colours stunning, and collecting mussels on the beach with my young son and cooking them on a BBQ. I was sent 3 photos of Mull yesterday in glorious sunshine.

    Love your posts

    • Hi Jane,

      Thanks very much. I’ve seen Mull in all weathers but you quickly forget the windy and damp days for sparkling, sunny days like this ! I too got some colour on Saturday’s walk – not bad for mid-October.

      • Mull has a different kind of beauty even when wet -( but agree, not as nice as when dry)

  3. I can totally agree! I had never heard of Ardnamurchan before until I was sent there to live and teach maths for a year. It’s such a beautiful place, even in the rain, and I totally fell in love with it! I now go back to visit at any opportunity! You’re pictures are stunning!

  4. Fantastic picture I also visited ardnamurchan for the first time this year and fell in love with it. You must visit sanna and the lighthouse at ardnamurchan point. Stunning.

  5. Pingback: Top 10 Scenic Roads in Scotland | Wild about Scotland

  6. Pingback: 14 for 2014 #13 – Visit the westernmost part of the British mainland | Wild about Scotland

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