West Highland Peninsulas: Ultimate Guide to Scotland’s Secret Coast

Sanna Beach in Ardnamurchan Scotland
Access remote locations far from the crowds
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Scotland’s West Highland Peninsulas are a bit of an insider secret. They’re wild and remote yet surprisingly accessible, with all the elements of a traditional Scottish Highlands holiday up for grabs. The mountains are rugged, the waters are deep and the wildlife is abundant. Tioram Castle on Loch Moidart, Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan and the windswept shores of Morvern are all well worth the long drive!

This is a land where otters play along the loch shores and purple heather carpets the hillsides. It’s where stags survey their forest realm and ancient castles keep watch over tidal estuaries. The history here is a rich tapestry of 6,000 years, with lasting influences from the Vikings, the Highland Clans, and everyone in between.

There are probably more hiking routes than roads, and you can easily go an entire day without bumping into another tourist. If you like your scenery to come without an added helping of crowds, then the West Highland Peninsulas tick all the boxes.

Castle Tioram overlooks Loch Moidart in the West Highland Peninsulas
Views over Loch Moidart

This is a bit of a bumper post, so use the contents menu below to help navigate if there’s something in particular you’re itching to know.

Table of Contents

Where are the West Highland Peninsulas of Scotland?

The West Highland Peninsulas are a bit off the beaten tourist track, which is a good thing! The region is made up of five distinct peninsulas on the west coast of Scotland: Moidart, Ardnamurchan, Sunart, Morvern and Ardgour.

Attached to the mainland and an offshoot of the West Highlands of Scotland, the peninsulas lie south of Skye, north of Mull and west of Fort William.

Highland cows in Ardgour in the West Highland Peninsulas
Curious locals in Ardgour

How to get to the West Highland Peninsulas

From the south

If you’re travelling up to the Scotland west coast from the south, the easiest way to travel to Sunart, Moidart and these other wild Scottish peninsulas is via the public ferry at Corran. The crossing only takes 5 minutes, with the service running roughly every 20 minutes. It’s a lot quicker than driving up via Fort William and around Loch Eil. Consult the Corran ferry timetable for more information.

It’s a casual affair – you just drive onto the ferry, wait in your vehicle, and a crew member will come and take payment (£10 per car, cards preferred).

From the north

If you’re journeying down from the northern Highlands to west coast Scotland then you can either use the Corran ferry, or take the A830 towards Glenfinnan. Loch Moidart and the surrounding area is easily accessed from here, or you can head down to Ardgour, Sunart and Morvern on the A861 which skirts Loch Eil and Loch Linnhe. Both are very scenic routes.

From Skye

Moidart and the other West Highland Peninsulas are also easily accessible from the Isle of Skye, and make a great add on to your trip. You’ll need to take the Calmac Ferry between Armadale on Skye to Mallaig on the mainland, then travel down through Moidart. The crossing takes just half an hour.

From Mull

You can also reach the West Highland Peninsulas from Mull. There’s a ferry that runs between Fishnish on Mull and Lochaline on Morvern with regular daily departures. See the timetable and rates here.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail along Loch Shiel
The Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail along Loch Shiel

Best time to visit the West Highland Peninsulas

You can visit Moidart, Ardamurchan, Morvern, Ardgour and Sunart at any time of year, it just depends what you’re looking to get out of your trip. These Scottish peninsulas never get busy even in summer, so this is a great place to come and escape the crowds on the mainland and Skye.

Spring (April – June)

Spring is one of our favourite times to visit Scotland, especially in May and early June when the wildflowers are blooming in the hedgerows and on the hillsides. Things are slowly warming up after the long winter, and wildlife is active.

This is a great time to visit if you want to avoid the higher summer prices.

Summer (July – September)

If you’re coming to the peninsulas for some beach time – Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan is a must – then summer is supreme. On a sunny day you’ll feel like you’re somewhere far more tropical, whether you’re after swimming, sandcastles or rockpooling.

Just bear in mind that summer is the height of the dreaded midge season, and the pesky little blighters really can drive you crazy. They’re at their worst during July and August, and are particularly prevalent at dusk and dawn. You’ll encounter them around the lochs and in wooded areas when there’s little wind around.

Midges are less problematic on the coast where there’s a bit of a breeze, so head here if you can! Check the excellent Scottish Midge Forecast to find out how rife they’ll be during your trip. Worried about getting bitten? Then try using Avon Skin So Soft – it does more to combat the little nuisances than most deet midge spray, and most travellers to Scotland swear by it!

Autumn (October – November)

Autumn is a fabulous time to visit the West Highland Peninsulas as the foliage puts on a display of golds, russets and reds. Loch Moidart is particularly stunning in Autumn. This is also a good time to see deer as it’s the rutting season, so keep an eye out for battling stags. You’ll also hear them calling across the valleys – it’s enough to send shivers down your spine!

The weather can be a bit changeable in Autumn, with downpours and hail storms swiftly followed by bright sunshine and rainbows. If you’re patient and wait out the wet bits you’ll be amply rewarded.

Winter (December – March)

It gets very cold here during winter, but as they say in Scotland – “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. You’ll often enjoy clear blue skies and crisp mornings, and although the coastal regions aren’t known for their snow, the mountains do see their fair share, making for scenic photos.

There are even fewer visitors here in winter, so bag yourself a cottage with a log fire to enjoy after a day of sightseeing and feel like you have the peninsulas all to yourself!

Loch Sunart shoreline on the West Highland Peninsulas
The Loch Sunart shoreline

Where to stay in the West Highland Peninsulas

Accommodation in the West Highland Peninsulas is mainly holiday cottages, with a few hotels, bed and breakfasts, and lodges to add variety. There aren’t that many places to eat out in the region, so if you don’t fancy doing a lot of cooking yourself, you may prefer to book a hotel rather than go self catering.

In each section below you’ll find recommendations for places to stay in the different regions, from Loch Moidart to Ardnamurchan. It’s a good idea to book well ahead outside of winter as there isn’t an infinite list of properties to choose from.

We stayed on the Sunart Peninsula as its central location meant we had easy access to all the other areas. Next time, for a bit of variety, I think we’ll opt for either Ardnamurchan or Moidart as a base.

Achleek Cottage by Loch Sunart on the West Highland Peninsulas
Achleek Cottage by Loch Sunart where we stayed

Below you’ll find a run down of the five different peninsulas, including the top sights and some accommodation suggestions.

You might also like reading: A regal weekend in the Highlands at East Gatehouse Lodge

1. MOIDART PENINSULA

Sitting to the east of Loch Shiel, Moidart was probably our favourite of the five Scottish peninsulas. Maybe because we caught it on a good weather day, but I think the photos speak for themselves! The landscapes around Loch Moidart felt really varied, with everything from tidal beaches and islands to forests and mountains.

Autumn colours at Castle Tioram overlooking Loch Moidart on the West Highland Peninsulas
Autumn colours at Loch Moidart

There are a few more roads here than on some of the other peninsulas, which made for more diverse exploring opportunities and helped us fall in love with Moidart. Scotland is a spectacular destination, and the Loch Moidart area is like a miniature version of the entire country!

THINGS TO DO ON THE MOIDART PENINSULA

Castle Tioram

Visiting Castle Tioram should be at the top of your list of things to do in Moidart. The atmospheric ruins are perched dramatically on a tidal island, keeping watch over Loch Moidart. Tioram Castle was built to control the waterways between Loch Shiel and Loch Sunart, which gave onward access to the western Highlands. It’s thought that this strategic location was used as far back as the Viking period, although the castle itself wasn’t constructed until the 13th century.

Castle Tiorman on Loch Moidart on the West Highland Peninsulas
Castle Tiorman at low tide

To access the castle, make sure you visit at low tide – you can walk across the beach when the water levels of Loch Moidart allow. You can’t go inside the castle as the ruins are deemed unsafe, but to be honest, it’s the views that you’re here for. You can peer in the entrance if you want to see the interior central courtyard.

Castle Tioram from the beach on the West Highland Peninsulas
Castle Tioram from the beach

And in case you’re wondering, Tioram is pronounced “Cheerum”.

Parking: There’s a free car park at the end of a very narrow single track lane – from there it’s a short stroll to the island.

Smirisary Beach

There are two stunning sandy beaches accessed from the crofter’s village of Smirisary. The wild flowers add a pop of colour in Spring, and there are unrivalled views out towards The Small Isles.

Seals and otters are often spotted in the area, and the grasslands are a popular haunt for butterflies in summer. This place is wild and beautiful, and well worth the 2-mile walk in from the village. It can get a bit squelchy after periods of rain, so wear sensible footwear for your adventure.

Parking: There is a car park at the end of the Smirisary road – from here you just follow the trail down to the beach.

Samalaman Bay

The beach at Samalaman near the village of Glenuig offers some of the best island views on the Moidart peninsula. From here you can see The Small Isles, and it’s possible to cross to Samalaman Island at low tide. Popular with swimmers and beach combers, Samalaman Bay is a bit of an insider secret.

Parking: Spaces are available near the boathouse, or you can walk from Smirisary or Glenuig.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Although not strictly in Moidart, it makes sense to include the delights of Glenfinnan here, since it’s a close neighbour. You’ll probably be driving through Glenfinnan on your way back to the mainland Highlands, so do factor in a few hours to explore.

Jacobite Steam Train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct
Jacobite Steam Train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is the big draw, with its imposing valley setting. Famed for being a Harry Potter filming location, the viaduct is a must-see, whether or not you give a damn about wizards! The Jacobite Steam Train trundles over a couple of times a day, so if you want an action shot, check out the timetable before visiting.

It takes about 15 minutes to walk up the hillside from the car park. If you want to avoid the tourist hordes, who congregate on the slopes even in winter to take selfies with the train and play Harry Potter music on their phones, then don’t visit when a train is due.

Beneath the Glenfinnan Viaduct
Beneath the Glenfinnan Viaduct

There’s a lovely 2-mile circular walk between the viaduct and the Glenfinnan Station Museum, which gives superb views out over Loch Shiel. You can stop at the Glenfinnan Monument on your way back – it was built in memorial to all the Jacobites who died flighting for their cause during the 18th-century wars.

Glenfinnan Monument at Loch Shiel
Glenfinnan Monument at Loch Shiel

Parking: There’s a large National Trust car park in Glenfinnan which is a very reasonable £3.50 a day. It’s right beside the visitor centre and across the road from the Glenfinnan Monument. The path up to the viaduct is accessed from the back of the car park.

WHERE TO STAY IN MOIDART

Hotels in Moidart

  • Mingarry Park – this is one of the finest hotels in Moidart with an award-winning Scottish restaurant and luxury rooms. Interiors are stylish and the mountain views ensure the wild is never very far away.
  • Glenuig Inn – the location of this traditional inn takes some beating, as it’s right by the water! The rooms are simple yet smart, and having a restaurant and bar on the premises makes dining in the peninsulas a lot easier.

Self Catering in Moidart

  • Viking Cottage – this whitewashed gem of a holiday cottage has everything you need for a cosy stay on the West Highland Peninsulas. It boasts a stunning lochside location and is a bit off the beaten track.
  • Riverview Cottage – overlooking the sweeping countryside, this charming pad is superbly situated for visiting Castle Tioram and Loch Shiel. It has a wood burning stove for all the cosy feels.

2. ARDNAMURCHAN PENINSULA

The Ardnamurchan Peninsula is where you’ll find the westernmost point of the British mainland. This feels like the wildest and most remote of the all the peninsulas, and is a favourite with many visitors. It’s a great place to get away from it all!

You’ll find some of the most scenic beaches here in Ardnamurchan, as well as a lighthouse, a distillery and plenty of history.

Loch Mudle on Ardnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
Loch Mudle on Ardnamurchan

THINGS TO DO ON THE ARDNAMURCHAN PENINSULA

Sanna Bay

There’s a fair bit of hype surrounding the beaches of Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan, and as with many places that receive such lavish praise, we were prepared to be a bit disappointed. We were visiting in October, which isn’t really known for its beach weather! Yet as we arrived, the showers passed and the sun popped out, transforming this remote stretch of Scottish coast into a vision of pure beauty. It took just moments for us to agree that Sanna Beach is indeed one of the best places to visit in Ardnamurchan.

Sanna Bay in Adrnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
Sanna Bay

We spent ages scampering about the shoreline, running across the beach (which we had to ourselves!), and doing a bit of rock pooling. It’s easily the top sight in Ardnamurchan and after Tiorman Castle and the Glenfinnan Viaduct was probably our favourite experience during our West Highland Peninsulas trip.

Sanna Bay beach in Ardnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
The dunes at Sanna Beach

The drive to Sanna Bay is long and winding, but totally worth the effort when you first clap eyes on Sanna Beach. Scotland really does know how to do sandy bays! This area is part of an ancient volcanic crater, and the surrounding scenery does feel a bit mysterious and otherworldly.

Sanna Bay rockpools in Ardnamurchan
Rockpools at Sanna Bay

Parking: There is a large free car park at Sanna Bay Ardnamurchan which is just a stone’s throw from the sea. The best beach is to the left as you’re facing the water, so just follow the track over the dunes and down to the shore. There’s another beach to the north (on your right as you’re looking at the sea) but we didn’t think it was as pretty!

St. Comghan’s Church

The old parish church in Kilchoan is worth a stop if you like your history and crumbling ruins to come with a scenic backdrop. You’ll be passing it if you’re heading to Sanna Bay or the Lighthouse so you may as well pay a visit while you explore Ardnamurchan.

St Comghan's Church in Kilchoan - Ardnamurchan Peninsula
St Comghan’s Church in Kilchoan

Overlooking Kilchoan bay, the graveyard is very atmospheric and you can see the remains of the 18th century church too, which is now without a roof and slowly being taken back by nature. Parts of St. Comghan’s Church date back to the 12th century!

St Comghans Church in Kilchoan - Ardnamurchan Scotland
View of Kilchoan Bay from St Comghan’s Church

Parking: You can park at the side of the B8007 (the road to Sanna Bay and Portuairk), then walk through the fields to the church.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

We didn’t make it to the lighthouse as we misjudged the amount of time it would take driving on those Ardnamurchan roads and decided to focus on Sanna Bay instead. A fun way of combining the lighthouse and Sanna Bay with less driving is to park at Portuairk and walk to Sanna, before continuing to the lighthouse afterwards by car.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse on the West Highland Peninsulas Scotland
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

The 35-metre-high Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly point of Ardnamurchan and indeed mainland Britain. It has a visitor centre and cafe. The lighthouse was built in 1849 and is still in operation today – tours of the tower are sometimes available. There are great views towards the Inner Hebrides and the Small Isles from here, and you can explore the area on the network of trails around the headland.

Parking: There is a small car park at the lighthouse.

Ardnamurchan Distillery

Whisky is the lifeblood of Scotland, so visiting a distillery is an integral part of any trip to the north. The Ardnamurchan Distillery offers tours and tastings for £15 per person during the week and there’s a visitor centre where you can learn all about the processes behind the famous amber nectar.

It’s located in Glenbeg so you’ll drive right past it if you’re heading to Sanna Bay or the Lighthouse.

Parking: Is available onsite.

Ardtoe Beach

The weather was foul when we visited Ardtoe, with driving rain being the order of the day. Yet the tide was out, which made scrambling around the rocky inlets an enticing adventure. This is a popular place to spot seals, although they were sensibly tucked away out of the wind while we were there.

Ardtoe Beach in Ardnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
Ardtoe Beach

Ardtoe is an out of the way place, which just adds to the appeal. There’s a tiny beach opposite the car park, but if you continue walking down the track (to the end of the road past the two caravans) you’ll come to the larger beaches. It’s a fun spot for wildlife watching and scrambling along the shore, and picnics if the weather is behaving.

Ardtoe Beach scrambles in Ardnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
Ardtoe Beach scrambles

The geology here is fascinating, with rocks of all colours of the rainbow glinting away in the sun. We’ve also never seen so much quartz as we did here in the rocks around Ardtoe, so this is definitely one for the geologists!

Parking: There’s a small car park at the end of the road, with an honesty box – suggested donation £1. Campervans are welcome overnight although there are no facilities.

The Monster Midge

On the way to Ardtoe you’ll come across the Monster Midge – a bit of local humour and a warning! Rumour has it that the stone painting was the result of a school art project back in the 1990s, and it’s amused passers-by ever since.

The Monster Midge in Ardnamurchan on the West Highland Peninsulas
The Monster Midge

Parking: None – you will see it at the side of the road as you drive towards Ardtoe.

Ben Hiant

Scaling Ben Hiant had been on our list of fun things to do in Ardnamurchan, but the weather didn’t play ball so we admired it from the valley instead. Ben Hiant is the highest point of the peninsula (even though it’s only 528 metres) and offers sweeping views out across the Adrnamurchan estates and beyond.

Check out details of the walk if you fancy having a go – it takes around 3 hours so could easily be combined with Sanna Bay on a day trip to Ardnamurchan.

Parking: Verge side parking on the B8007.

Singing Sands

We so wanted to visit the Singing Sands during our trip, but the heavens opened and we didn’t think the deluge would make for a great beach experience. Yes, there’s a bit of a theme here with the rain, but we did visit in October!

Once you’ve visited Sanna Bay and fancy something even more off the beaten track, head to the Singing Sands up near Gortenfern. Known locally as Camas an Lighe, the Singing Sands are named after the unusual sounds created by the wind whipping over the beach – apparently the sand grains are just the right composition to cause this strange and beautiful noise. Just be aware of the tides when you’re exploring to avoid getting cut off.

Parking: You can park in Arivegaig Village, and then walk 2.5 miles down a track to the beach. The effort required to access the sands means that it’s never busy!

Natural History Centre

Just over the road from the distillery is the Ardnamurchan Natural History Visitor Centre. This is the place to come if you want to discover more about the wildlife of Ardnamurchan. The exhibition is located inside a ‘living building’ and is a private passion project of local couple Richard and Vicky Pollock.

There’s a cafe and gift shop onsite too. Note that like many visitor attractions in Scotland, it closes over winter.

Parking: Available on site.

WHERE TO STAY IN ARDNAMURCHAN

Hotels in Ardnamurchann

  • Mingary Castle – this restaurant with rooms is situated in a real life 13th-century Scottish castle. It’s located right on the loch shore and has historical feature rooms as well as a six course fine dining menu. It’s easily the king of all hotels in Ardnamurchan.
  • Kilchoan Hotel – the comfortable Kilchoan Hotel is superbly situated in the heart of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. It has a restaurant and bar as well as modern rooms and whisky tasting on offer.

Self Catering in Ardnamurchan

  • Volcano Cabins – these three attractive mountain pods are perfect for independent explorers who want to escape from the outside world. Located on the road to Sanna Bay, they’re well placed for checking out the Ardnamurchan coast although perhaps a bit remote if you plan on taking day trips to all the other peninsulas.

3. SUNART PENINSULA

We think the Sunart Peninsula makes the best base if you plan on exploring all five of the West Highland Peninsulas. It’s located in the heart of the region, with easy access to the other areas. Plus it’s beautiful, with a tranquil loch that’s home to otters and seals which are frequently spotted.

The oak woodlands here are ancient, and there are several gentle strolls along the forested shores of Loch Sunart to enjoy.

Carnoch River by Loch Sunart on the West Highland Peninsulas
Carnoch River by Loch Sunart

THINGS TO DO ON THE SUNART PENINSULA

Loch Sunart

Sunart was probably our favourite loch, because it was so peaceful and this is where we saw several otters and seals. It’s a sea loch, which means the shoreline changes with the tides, so you’ll be treated to different views every time you venture out.

Loch Sunart in the West Highland Peninsulas
Lovely Loch Sunart

One of the best lochside strolls is down the track along the southern side of the water, on the Laudale Estate. Just turn right off the A884 as it heads up the Liddesdale Valley and keep your binoculars handy.

Loch Sunart is also a popular spot for wild swimming and diving – look for the jetty and cabin just before you reach Strontian. Wellies are a good idea if you’re poking around the shores as there’s lots of seaweed at low tide.

Exploring Loch Sunart at low tide on the West Highland Peninsulas
Exploring Loch Sunart at low tide

Parking: There are a few parking areas along the northern shore of the loch, many offering woodland walks. The southern shoreline has plenty of passing areas but few parking places, which is a bit frustrating. However, if you drive along far enough and you’ll find a spot.

Polloch and Loch Shiel walk

We saved this 3-mile forest walk from Polloch for one of our rainy days, thinking it would be a pleasant way to pass the time without getting too soggy. Yet it ended up being one of our top experiences – all without another person in sight!

Forest walk from Polloch to Loch Shiel ion the West Highland Peninsulasn Sunart
Forest walk from Polloch

The drive over from Strontian is an adventure in itself, with the winding road taking you over a high pass, and then down through the dense forest. There’s free parking at Polloch, and from there you just follow the foresty track in the direction of Glenfinnan.

View of River Polloch in Sunart on the West Highland Peninsulas
View of River Polloch

Thanks to the logging in the area, the air is scented with pine – the smell is incredible. This trail through the Glenhurrich Forest is more about the trees than the lochs, but there are a few viewpoints which overlook the River Polloch and Loch Shiel. It’s a good pace to spot golden eagles and buzzards up on the crags.

Parking: Free car park with plenty of spaces at Polloch.

WHERE TO STAY IN SUNART

Hotels in Sunart

  • Kilcamb Lodge Hotel – this intimate luxury country house hotel boasts 22 acres of woodland and rooms with a view. There are cosy log fires, ensuite bathrooms and candle-lit dinners on offer.
  • The Strontian Hotel – a luxury bed and breakfast experience awaits guests of the Strontian Hotel, with lashings of Scottish whisky and local cuisine up for grabs.

Self Catering in Sunart

There are also lots of estate cottages in Sunart, with everything from remote valley settings to lochside abodes. We stayed in this one which was perfect for otter watch each morning!

You might also like reading: Staying in the White Tower of Taymouth Castle at Loch Tay

4. MORVERN PENINSULA

Morvern is the most southerly peninsula. If you’re coming from the Isle of Mull by ferry, the village of Lochaline in Morvern will be your first point of call.

We thought Morvern was the wildest of the five peninsulas, because it’s stuck out on its own and really does feel like the end of the road. It’s totally unspoiled by development and tourism, and you’re more likely to encounter sheep on your explorations than people. The population here is tiny, with just a few remote hamlets scattered around the valleys.

We loved driving the B8043 loop which carves through desolate mountains and along the windswept shores of Loch Linnhe, where precipitous cliffs and boulder fields remind you that you’re far from civilisation. A highlight was seeing goats on the beach and the frothing waterfalls cascading down the ravines after a particularly impressive downpour.

If you want to feel alive, come to Morvern, Scotland!

River Aline on the Morvern Peninsula
River Aline on the Morvern Peninsula

THINGS TO DO ON THE MORVERN PENINSULA

Ardtornish Castle

No Scotland holiday is complete without a castle ruin or two, and the one at Ardtornish ticks all the boxes. You’ll find it in the grounds of the Ardtornish Estate near Lochaline, on the end of a headland that sticks out into the Sound of Mull. The there-and-back walk is about 8 miles and takes up to 4 hours.

Built in the 13th century, Ardtornish Castle was a stronghold for the Lords of the Isles and was a centre of political intrigue and even treason back in the day.

Parking: You can leave your car on the estate (you can ask permission at the site office or gift shop) and then walk down the track to the castle alongside Loch Aline.

Kinlochaline Castle

The 15th-century Kinlochaline Castle is actually a private residence, but with striking pink walls, this ancient tower house makes for a great photo if you’re passing. You’ll find it on the Ardtornish Estate overlooking the River Aline.

Kinlochaline Castle on the Morvern Peninsula
Kinlochaline Castle

The best way to spot it is to drive onto the estate, turn around after the estate offices, and then you’ll see it as you cross back over the bridge.

Parking: There is space to park your car by the bridge whilst jumping out for a quick photo.

Aoineadh Mòr

The deserted township of Aoineadh Mòr sheds light on the infamous 19th-century Highland Clearances, when residents were forced from their villages to make way for sheep farming. There are a couple of trails that take in Aoineadh Mòr, with interpretation boards giving more information about what happened here.

The full circular walk is just over 2 miles long along forest trails. You’ll find the starting point north of Lochaline, along a small road which is signposted to Kinloch.

Parking: Free parking is available on site.

The Wishing Stone

Perhaps one of the more underwhelming landmarks of the West Highland Peninsulas, the Wishing Stone nonetheless deserves a few minutes of your time. On the map, it’s called “Clach na Criche” and you’ll pass it on the road to Drimnin. The stone was formed 60 million years ago, with subsequent erosion leaving an unusual window in the rock.

The Wishing Stone in Morvern - West Highland Peninsulas
The mysterious Wishing Stone

Once used by the Picts and Scots as a boundary marker, it’s been a place of mystery and legend for centuries. Apparently, if you wriggle through the hole without touching the sides and while holding water in your mouth, your wish will be granted. We didn’t try this so can’t vouch for the accuracy of this tale! The Wishing Stone was also used as a resting point for funeral processions as they travelled between Lochaline and Drimnin.

Parking: There’s a small free car park owned by the Forestry Commission just a few metres down the road from the Wishing Stone.

Nc’nean Distillery

Another of the top distilleries in the West Highland Peninsulas is in Drimnin, which seems an unlikely place for such an establishment thanks to it being so remote. The Nc’nean Distillery runs 2-hour tours from Monday to Friday with tastings included. You’ll need to call ahead and book.

There’s a gift shop too for purchasing some whisky and botanical spirits to take home.

Parking: Available on site.

Rahoy Hills Nature Reserve

Wildlife is pretty easy to spot in the West Highland Peninsulas, but if it’s the main focus of your trip, then visiting a nature reserve can increase your chances of sightings. Golden eagles and red deer are amongst the most famous residents of the Rahoy Hills Nature Reserve, and you can spend several happy hours exploring the hills here.

The Rahoy Hills Nature Reserve on Morvern is remote and beautiful, with a range of habitats that include mountains, woods, and grasslands. There are several rare plant and animals species to be found here, so keep your eyes peeled.

Parking: Access is via Acharn, off the A884 north of Lochaline, with parking available at the start of the Black Glen track.

WHERE TO STAY IN MORVERN

Hotels in Morvern

  • Castle View – this is a Lochaline bed and breakfast with a view! There’s a sun terrace overlooking the loch, and comfortable bedrooms for relaxing in after a day of exploring.

Self Catering in Morvern

  • White Watch – this three-bedroom apartment in the old fire station building offers a luxurious modern take on self catering holidays. There’s bags of rooms and views out over the loch. Opt for Blue Watch if you only need one bedroom.
  • Keepers Cottage – this swish hillside bolthole is on the extensive Ardtornish Estate, with some of the best views in the area. It comes with underfloor heating, a range cooker and wood burning stove for cosy nights in.

You might also like reading: Fun things to do in the Scottish Borders

5. ARDGOUR PENINSULA

The landscapes of Ardgour make for the ultimate Scottish trip, with plenty of lochside driving and nature to keep you entertained. There’s only really one road – the A861 – which follows Lochs Linnhe and Eil, offering some of the best views in the peninsulas. It was on this loop that we saw the most deer and highland cattle, with frequent stops for photos!

This is also where you’ll first set foot in the West Highland Peninsulas if you’ve arrived via the Corran ferry.

The Corran ferry in Scotland on the West Highland Peninsulas
The Corran ferry

THINGS TO DO ON THE ARDGOUR PENINSULA

Hiking on the Ardgour Estate

Owned by the Maclean family since the 1430s, the Ardgour Estate is a haven for hikers and wildlife enthusiasts. Popular walks include Glen Gour, Glen Scaddle and Cona Glen, as well as waterside meanders through the woods around the lochs. You can also arrange to go trout fishing in either the lochs or the sea.

Loch Eil in Scotland
Loch Eil in Ardgour

WHERE TO STAY IN ARDGOUR

Self Catering in Ardgour

  • Cuil Moss Cottage – this romantic cottage on the Ardgour Estate offers easy access to glens, lochs and forests. It’s a former Shepherd’s bothy but boasts rather more luxurious furnishings today.
  • Kingairloch Estate – this Highland estate offers a multitude of holiday cottages for romantic wilderness stays. Choose between The Old Post Office, Pier Cottage or the Old School for a bit of sleeping in history beside the bay.

Services and Facilities in the West Highland Peninsulas

Toilets

We’re always up for a responsible wild wee when the call of nature beckons, but if you’d prefer an actual toilet, there are a few options across the peninsulas.

  • Ardnamurchan: Kilchoan Community Center (there are showers too for campervanners); Ardnamurchan Lighthouse; Kilchoan public toilets near the CalMac ferry terminal; Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre.
  • Moidart: Glenuig Hall; Acharacle public toilets.
  • Sunart: Strontian public toilets.
  • Morvern: Lochaline public toilets.

Shops

The local stores around the peninsula are very well stocked, with pretty much everything you might need for a stay in the area. Prices are of course higher than the larger supermarkets in Fort William and beyond, but considering the remote location it’s understandable.

You’ll find the main stores in Strontian, Kilchoan, Acharacle and Lochaline.

Petrol Stations

There are local pumps in Strontian (in Sunart), Kilchoan (in Ardnamurchan) and Lochaline (in Morvern) – you can check their opening times here.

Filling Station in Strontian at Loch Sunart on the West Highland Peninsulas
The scenic filling station at Strontian

How to travel around the West Highland Peninsulas

The only realistic way to visit Moidart, Ardnamurchan, Sunart, Morvern and Ardgour is by car. These peninsulas are some of the most remote in the UK, with limited public transport options. Most of the top sightseeing spots are located down long and narrow roads, which means the only access is by car.

Travelling by campervan? This region is very campervan friendly, with plenty of parking areas that actively allow overnight stays. Some even have picnic benches with metal plates so you can use your BBQ or stove on them! We saw several along the northern shores of Loch Sunart.

Roads in Ardnamurchan Scotland on the West Highland Peninsulas
A typical road in the West Highland Peninsulas (this is Ardnamurchan)

Tips for driving around the West Highland Peninsulas

  • Get used to single track roads: Most of the roads in Moidart, Ardnamurchan and the other peninsulas are single track affairs. It’s rare to come across a stretch of tarmac with two lanes, but it’s something you quickly get used to. There are lots of passing places, so if you do meet an oncoming vehicle, it’s not an issue. You’ll just need to be prepared to do a fair bit of reversing if the nearest passing place is behind you.
  • Don’t park in the passing places: The passing places along the roads should be kept clear at all times and not used for parking (although this can be tempting as there’s a distinct lack of scenic loch laybys when you want to stop for photos!)
  • Beware of oncoming trucks: They can give you a bit of a shock as you’re pootling along the remote lanes having not seen another vehicle for ages. There are a lot of forestry sites in the region, so you’ll probably see several trucks a day. We’ve never heard so much tyre screeching as they slammed on their brakes when encountering us around a corner. Luckily we were always travelling slowly so all was okay – we suggest you do the same.
  • Watch out for deer: There are a lot of deer in this area, some of which love to leap out onto the road in front of you as you’re driving.
  • Also watch out for cattle: Don’t be surprised if you encounter cows on the road, especially in Ardnamurchan. Just be patient and eventually they’ll mooove out of the way.
  • Fuel up in advance: There are very few fuel stations in the West Highland Peninsulas, so make sure you have a full tank before arriving. You can fill up in Fort William, Glencoe or Mallaig, depending on where you’re coming from. Some people like to carry a jerry can of emergency fuel just in case they’re caught short, but with careful planning, you’ll be fine. Note that you can’t carry fuel cans on the ferries.
  • Long journey times: As the roads are narrow, it takes longer to reach destinations than your satnav suggests – you can’t drive at 60 miles an hour here! Just consider this when planning your itinerary.
Cows on the road in Ardnamurchan Scotland
Traffic jam in Ardnamurchan

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Guide to the West Highland Peninsulas - Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Sunart, Morvern, Ardgour
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