Explore the night sky over the West Highland Peninsulas

Images on this page courtesy of Steven Marshall Photography www.smarshall.photography

Being on the western edge of the British Mainland means that we have one of the best dark skies in the country. Our night sky can get so inky dark that over 7,000 stars and planets can be visible with the naked eye. All you have to do is go outside on a clear night, give your eyes time to adjust to the dark and then look up. You’ll see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky. This is a privilege that so few people in our country have, so why not come here and let us share it with you.

So how dark is a dark sky? Well, we have measured the darkness of the sky at various locations here using a device called a Sky Quality Meter (SQM) and have got readings of between 21 and 22.5. To give you an idea of what this means, you would get a reading of around 8 in the middle of a major city such as Glasgow or Edinburgh and a reading of 24 would be measured in a photographer's dark room. So, on some nights, we are very near to total darkness, meaning that this is a great place to enjoy a spot of stargazing.

While in many places across the Peninsulas, you can simply walk out of where you are staying and have a great view of the night sky, you can go a little further afield if you wish and here are some of the places we would recommend:

  • Corran Point, Ardgour: One of our officially designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites. It is a fenced off area between the seashore and red brick building adjacent to Corran Lighthouse. As it is right next to the ferry, it is a great spot to stop for your first look at the night sky during your time here.
  • Sallachan Beach, Ardgour: Just off the A861 road from Corran Ferry and one of our officially designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites. As it is only a 5-minute drive from the ferry, it is another good spot to stop for your first look at the night sky during your time here.
  • Resipole Farm Holiday Park, Sunart: One of our officially designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites. View the night sky from a flat grassy area next to the Reception Building that has good sightlines in all directions. Be careful not to disturb the residents who are holidaying there.
  • Loch Shiel Jetty, Acharacle: Down a track just next to the Loch Shiel Hotel. You have a very clear line of sight looking North over Loch Shiel, making it a great place to watch for Northern Lights. Do not go onto the Jetty itself as it can be slippy and therefore dangerous.
  • Castle Tioram, Moidart: Turn off the A861 just north of Acharacle and 2 miles down a narrow single track which should be driven with care. Once there you get good lines of sight in all directions except East. From the shore a little north of the car park, at certain times you can look out south and west to see the Milky Way and look North to catch the Northern Lights. Do not go out to the Castle as you may get caught out with the tide.
  • Old Boat House, Ardtornish Estate, Morvern: A flat area of hardstanding, located between the shore and the track to Ardtornish Castle about 200 metres before the Old Boathouse on the shore of Lochaline. Park in the Estate Farm Courtyard where their Gift Shop is located and walk to the area near the boathouse from there.
  • Alltachonaich, Morvern: The now vacated laydown area for the Uileann Hydro Scheme provides excellent views of the night sky in all directions. Turn east off the A884 and follow the track down to the bridge over the river. Drive down the track for about 400 metres and you will find the laydown area just beyond a house that is to the right of the track.