This was the highlight of the holiday for me. Way back in the sixties, my parents had bought their first car and our rail holidays were at an end, a big disappointment for me. We were staying at Fort William, and Ardnamurchan looked intriguing on the map, so they agreed to drive over to take a look. The road back then was narrow, bendy and hilly, with few passing places so we made it only as far as Strontian. Today we were landing west of that village, courtesy of the Tobermory to Kilchoan ferry. A Scottish cyclist had earlier advised us that the Tourist Information Centre in Kilchoan Community Centre had allowed his party to leave their luggage with them while they biked out to the point and back. The Centre also houses a café, and you’ve probably gathered by now that we like cafés, so after a break of half an hour we were riding on light bikes towards the most westerly point on the British mainland.
It was a sunny, crystal clear day with a chilly breeze. We were surprised to find an information centre and coffee shop at the end, but they didn’t seriously detract from the feeling of remoteness since there were few people around. Visibility was astonishing, we could see the Cuillin range on Skye, the Isle of Coll and the Dutchman’s Hat was still clearly visible. We could even make out Barra in the Outer Hebrides, this was a perfect day to be out here.
We rode back to collect our bags, the wind now in our faces as it would be for the remainder of the day. As we progressed towards Strontian, we enjoyed the marvellous views over the sea to the islands, and after Salen the ride along Loch Sunart, though grey clouds had covered the sky by then. We were surprised to see a caravan and camping site by the coast after Salen, taking a caravan along here would be no fun at all. The road is still single track, with widening work evident in a few places, it would be a pity if road improvements spoil this wonderful area.
We turned off in Strontian to the Ariundle Centre, a brand new and very smart bunkhouse furnished from Ikea. We had a room to ourselves for £14 each, this consisted of a double bed and a double bunk. There’s a restaurant attached, but we cooked for ourselves, though I bought a bottle of Three Sisters Ale from the Orkney Brewery to accompany my meal. The kitchen was rather small, with just a standard domestic electric cooker, so we were lucky that three hikers were the only others using it.