In this second of two blogs, Kev Burnley, a regular visitor to the West Highland Peninsulas, describes the treasures that can be found here on the Peninsulas. He also gives some great advice for when you’re here. “Don’t set an itinerary, just let it happen”.
Plunge Right In
When planning at trip to, or arriving at the Peninsulas, first timers ask what there is to do and where they should go. The guest books are full of many truly valid suggestions from justifiably enthusiastic returnees and new adventurers alike, only too keen for others share in the magic, and there is a wealth of information on the local Tourist Association’s website.
The truth is - you don't need to "go" anywhere – you’ve already arrived.
Discover the Peninsula’s treasures for yourself and call them your own. Drive down that road. Walk along that path, through that woodland. Swim at that beach. Go rock pooling at that bay. Stop at that small shop and chat a while, before you buy a little picnic to be eaten later at the inevitable viewpoint that you'll come across just as the sun is casting longer shadows and decorating the sky. These treasures can be your own, because there are no crowds. Don't set an itinerary, just let it happen.
Your guide is the trusty Ordnance Survey. It’s all good. You can't get lost. Once you’re at the lighthouse or one of the coastline settlements, you can only turn back from whence you came, but I can assure you, you'll be in no hurry to do so. You’re on Ardnamurchan Time after all. At least wait for that sunset if you’re fortunate with the weather!
Adding to the magic are the Gaelic names. Look at them on the map and then find out what they mean.
Camas na Gaell - "The Bay of Pledges"
Doesn’t it seem somehow to bestow a certain romance and allude to a culture and way of life long since past? As if the place needed any more romance when you stand there in contemplation of its beauty and perhaps even glimpse an eagle honouring you with its grace and presence.
Once Discovered, Never Forgotten
Discover the wildlife and find otters yourself. If you’re patient and observant, they'll appear from nowhere. As might a golden eagle, a small pod of porpoise or maybe dolphin. And if you’re really patient, a white - tailed eagle. How wonderful it is to see these creatures with nobody else around!
Of course you could go over the ferry to Tobermory and pay to almost guarantee seeing them on a "wildlife safari" in a seven-seater Land Cruiser with strangers, (don't get me wrong, it has its merits) but when, for the first time in your life, you suddenly see a pair of sea eagles for yourself, or realise, yes! it's an otter! Not just a ripple in the water, it is truly a memorable moment! You'll talk about it for years. And they were all yours.
I’ve always wondered if living here, you’d ever take any of this for granted. But my impression is that although locals might get used to seeing the wildlife so revered and enthused over by outsiders and are used to living amongst awesome seascapes and gorgeous scenery, familiarity would never breed contempt. There is a massive respect for it. They know they live in a unique part of the world that demands differently on them, and so their sense of community is possibly all the better for it.
Of course the single-track road may be a source of frustration, especially when dealing with us visitors adjusting to the etiquette of such byways, but when you let them pass, you can be sure of a smile and a cheery wave, as if they’re only too happy to have you here sharing their secret, if only for a short while. And I’m sure they are.
Back along the peninsula at Salen, you can journey north should you choose. More delights await you at and beyond the lovely Acharacle. The wonderfully named Kinlochmoidart. or Glenuig. They too, are all yours to discover……maybe you could read a little about the Jacobites for even more romance and intrigue.
But if you choose eventually to leave Wonderland to head back through the looking-glass that is the Corran ferry, maybe you'll travel a few miles in reverent silence until you see the lighthouse that stands guard over the Straits, and one or two last photographs.
I'll bet you'll even whisper a "goodbye" while the cattle grid is still ringing behind you, and harbour thoughts of a fond return in the not too distant future. You'll know then that you too have had the Ardnamurchan Experience.
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.
If you’d like to share what you love about the area on our website, please feel free to get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.