Top 10 best things to do in Ardnamurchan on a romantic break in Scotland
Ardnamurchan is located on the west coast of Scotland, not far from Fort William and makes up the most westerly point on the UK mainland. Even though Ardnamurchan is a peninsula most people would access it using the Corran ferry, giving it an extra ‘away from it all’ feeling. Combine this with breathtaking scenery, the fact that most roads are single track and there are no major towns or developments and you’ll understand why Ardnamurchan has been described as one of the UK’s last wildernesses making it perfect for a romantic break in Scotland.
Here are some of the things we enjoyed doing when we visited this magical place.
Go whale and dolphin watching
Drive to the most westerly point on the UK mainland to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and park up for a birds-eye view of the sea. This is an ideal location to spot whales and dolphins, including bottlenose dolphin, killer whale, minke whale and porpoise. The best time of year to watch these unique animals is between April and September but make sure you choose a calm day and not overly sunny, otherwise after a while every wavelet starts to look like a dorsal fin… For an even better chance of not only seeing but also interacting with dolphins and whales on Ardnamurchan check out one of the cruises or self drive boat hire options.
Climb Ben Hiant
Ardnamurchan doesn’t have any peaks over 3000 feet but the views from some of its smaller mountains (or even hills) are fit to rival any munro. Our favourite is Ben Hiant. It may be only 528m high, but its position as the highest point out on the Ardnamurchan peninsula makes it a brilliant viewpoint, taking in miles of coastline and countless islands. Be in no doubt, this is a proper little ‘mountain’ with a handsome peak, making it a perfect short hillwalk - you can be back in 2-3 hours.
Eat at Glenborrowdale Castle
Glenborrodale castle is part of the privately-owned 25,000 acre Ardnamurchan Estate – a full working estate, and a proud part of the small but thriving peninsula community. The castle has a highly ecological new woodchip boiler and its own filtered water system. The area is named after the nomadic Viking, Borrodale, who settled in the area with his tribe.
Built in 1900 this impressive baronial castle has now opened its culinary doors to the public. Good food provenance is central to the menu; the highest quality beef, venison, mutton, lamb and garden produce come from the Ardnamurchan castle estate. Rare breed free range pork from the peninsula is grown by local crofters and the ‘Kilchoan Pig Club’ and all the butchery is done by the much acclaimed Macbeth’s in Forres – one of ‘Rick Stein’s Food Heroes’. No wonder we felt the beef fillet on the menu was second to none…
Explore Sanna Bay
Driving through the rugged moonscape that makes up the scenery on the way to Sanna Bay, you might be surprised to find the picture perfect and very peaceful white sandy beaches at Sanna Bay with stunning views of Rùm, Muck, Eigg and Canna. Voted one the top 10 best beaches in the UK by The Guardian and we can see why.
See the northern lights
You don’t have to travel abroad to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis). Because Ardnamurchan enjoys almost zero percent light pollution it is one of the best places in the UK to watch the northern lights. We stayed in March and missed a great display by only a few days but the amazing starry nights almost made up for this.
Visit Castle Tioram
Now nothing more than a handsome ruin this castle was once the seat of the influential Clan MacDonald. Situated on the tidal island Eilean Tioram it is accessible at low tide by walking across the beach. Even though the castle itself is no longer open to the public its magical setting with panoramic 360 degrees views make it well worth a visit. And if you’re feeling fit (and you’ve got water proof boots) try the silver walk circuit.
Spot the wildlife from your doorstep
We were blown away by the variety and abundance of wildlife of Ardnamurchan; it really feels like one of the last wildernesses in the UK. After our first day we decided to buy some binoculars at Nadurra Visitor Centre (who also happen to do an excellent coffee) so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Seeing half a dozen different Golden Eagles on one day is nothing out of the ordinary and we saw otters, pine martens, seals and dolphins from our doorstep.
Mammals include Badger, Bank Vole, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common seal, Fox, Grey Seal, Hedgehog, Killer Whale, Mink, Minke Whale, Otter, Pine Marten, Porpoise, Rabbit Red Deer, Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Scottish Wildcat, Stoat, Weasel and Wood Mouse. If this isn’t enough the list of bird varieties stretches to over 135 species…
Enjoy a tour at Ardnamurchan Whisky Distillery
The Ardnamurchan Whisky Distillery is Scotland’s newest whisky distillery. Founded by the folks behind the famous Adelphi collection this distillery has all the ingredients to produce some of the finest single malt whiskies to come. Unlike some of the larger and more commercial distilleries this is a real ‘behind the scenes’ tour where you get to find out exactly how this water of life is created. And to top it all off the tour is followed is a great tasting session - highly recommended!
Take the ferry to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull
Take the scenic road down to Kilchoan from where you hop on the Tobermory ferry. This regular service with breathtaking views takes you straight into Mull’s colourful main town. Sample some of the local catch at Cafe Fish and the famous Fishermans Pier Fish & Chip Van or shop around for some local products like gorgeous handmade soap from The Mull Soap Company.
Stay at The Seashell
Wake up to some of the most stunning views across Loch Sunart to Oronsay and Morvern in this seashell-shaped retreat for two. Lovingly built and fitted out to a very high standard this unique holiday cottage for two lives up to its eco-credentials with ground source heat pump and grass roof.