In this first of two blogs, Kev Burnley, a regular visitor to the West Highland Peninsulas, describes the journey way out west from the Corran Ferry to Camas nan Geall and the emotions that can be felt by people that come here time and time again…..
Driving east along the A861 from Strontian, near where the Carnoch River flowing eagerly in the opposite direction, as if keen to meet its destiny and become the wonderful sea loch that is Sunart, there is a point that many visitors to the Peninsulas, having been awed and seduced in equal measure by its magic, must know only too well. For it’s the point at which, heralded by the clatter of the final cattle grid, that the road suddenly gets wider and faster, and you seem to be released - catapulted almost - unwillingly towards the Corran Ferry, the portal back into a real world from which you’ve all too briefly escaped.
The few miles from there, towards Ardgour, and the short return trip back across the Corran Narrows seem to afford exactly the right amount of time in which to contemplate the eye-aching beauty that you’ve left behind, and to wonder when you'll again experience the mesmeric scenery of this corner of Scotland. I suspect it is travelled in that particular direction in silence for the most part, as if the travelling companions have had some divine revelation bestowed on them and need that time for reflection. Only on reaching the ferry might the silence be broken by a conversation born of mutual appreciation for an undoubtedly exquisite part of the world, and the exhilaration of having shared an "Ardnamurchan Experience".
Travelling the opposite direction, west towards Strontian, is another matter entirely. The road at once captures you and demands you slow down, adjust to "Ardnamurchan Time", and begin to take in the first scenic splendour of the place. First time visitors are at once hooked. And the further west your adventure takes you, the more you’re entranced, bewitched and beguiled, because at every twist and turn there’s a new vista, another photograph to be taken - just as you imagine you’ve seen the best of it, it spellbinds you with another panorama, glimpsed through a curtain of oak, alder and rhododendron.
Continuing west brings you to the lovely village of Salen and then on to the B road (yes I know!) toward the Kilchoan - Tobermory ferry and Ardnamurchan Point. On this road, you’ll find another glorious surprise in store beyond the distillery on the Glenmore River, as you rise above the arboreal cloak at the wonderful Camas na Gaell. Here the mouth of Loch Sunart is revealed where it joins the Sound of Mull and the clifftop houses overlooking Tobermory can just be seen - the harbour itself remaining tantalisingly out of sight.
But keeping to what might be called the "main" road to journey on down toward Kilchoan, the Isle of Mull comes surely into view once more, brought into perspective if you catch a glimpse of the Tobermory ferry that appears tiny and insignificant with the mountains behind it. Only later might you learn of its importance to those that call this part of Lochaber home.
Of course, if you’ve been to the Peninsulas before, all that is experienced on this westward drive comes as no surprise at all. In fact, as you board the Corran Ferry, you feel the joy of knowing what you’re about to return as memories of previous visits come flooding back. There is nothing like the sweet apprehension of making the crossing across Loch Linne in the certain knowledge of joyous rediscovery.
Look out for next month’s blog, in which Kev shares what can be discovered at the end of this wonderful westward journey……….
Many thanks to Kev Burnley for sharing his passion for making the journey way out west to be here on the Peninsulas and thanks to him also for his lovely photos.
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