Summer Days on The Beach
As the days lengthen our thoughts turn to Spring and Summer and the walks to some of our favourite beaches in Ardnamurchan, Moidart and Morar.
The beach at Dorlin is the closest to Mingarry Lodges and is well known as the site of Castle Tioram, the 13th Century stronghold of The Clanranalds. At high tide the castle is cut off by the sea, but at low tide the beach is a great place for beachcombing and getting some great perspectives on this iconic ruined castle.
Ardtoe is a ten minutes drive away and is a popular beach with visitors and locals alike. There is a small car park at the end of the road with an honest box.
Another popular beach is the beach at Samalaman, just passed Glenuig on the small road out towards Smirisary. At low tide you can walk out to Samalaman Island and explore the rockpools and the seaweed clad rocks. The beach affords some fantastic views over The Small Isles.
The walk to the white sandy beach passed Smirisary is one our favourites, particular in the height of summer when the heather is in full bloom. The path can be rather boggy and is a little uneven in places, though the beach is well worth the walk. Amazing views to The Small Isles and also to Eilean Shona, so green and majestic in the height of summer. The salt marsh and machair behind the beach are also well worth exploring and are alive with butterflies and damselflies in the summer.
No trip to Mallaig would really be complete without a stop off at the beaches at Camusdarach. Take the coastal route from Arisaig to Mallaig along the B8008. Look out for the small car park just after Camusdarach campsite if driving from Arisaig. Follow the short sandy path from the car park to emerge onto the large sandy beach made famous as Ben's beach in the film Local Hero. Great northern divers, red throated divers and terns can be seen in the Summer months. As well as the main beach there are a number of other secluded bays which you can reach by following the coastal path. This is one of our favourite wildlife sites, both in summer and winter months - it never fails to delight.
Another secluded beach in the Arisaig area is the one at Port nam Murrach on The Rhu Peninsula. There is a small parking area at the end of the road signed to Rhu from Arisaig. An easy walk along a track, followed by a delightful walk across some fields and grassland to the fantastic silver sands.
Heading out towards Ardnamurchan Point you will no doubt notice the sandy beach at Camas nan Geall as the B8007 skirts around the hillside above. There is a car park with a Lochaber Geopark interpretation board telling the story of Ben Hiant and The Ardnamurchn Volcanoes. The beach is reached by descending an easy, but quite steep, track.
No trip to Ardnamurchan Point would be complete without a stop off at Bay MacNeil. Look out for the small parking area just passed Grigadale farmhouse. A short walk across the heath takes you to the amazing beach and machair grassland behind. The beach affords some great views of Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and is one of favourite spots for botanising and butterfly watching in the early summer. It is a good site for unusual moths, such as the belted beauty and the transparent burnet moth.
You can either walk to Sanna from Portuairk or drive through the remains of an ancient volcanic caldera to park behind the dunes. The dunes support a diverse assemblage of plants as well as a good diversity of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Look out for beautiful demoiselles around the wee burn (a special area of conservation) flowing through the dunes. The beach at Sanna is just magnificent and even in the height of summer is rarely busy. As well as the beach there is also a lovely walk following a ring of cairns on the headland to the north of the beach affording some amazing views of The Small Isles.
Last but not least is the Singing Sands. You can either walk to the beach from Ockle on The Ardnamurchan Peninsula or from Arivegaig, a 10 minutes drive from Mingarry Lodges. The easy walk from Arivegaig passes along the shores of Kentra Bay and through a forest plantation before arriving at the beach via a small path over the heath and dunes. Pick up a handful of sand and examine it to see the grains are completely round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter, two properties which allow the sand to whistle or sing as you shuffle across them. At low tide you can walk north west to some secluded coves and finally onto the expansive bay and dune system at Cul na Croise
These are just some of the fabulous beaches in the area and our personal favourites - we hope you will have an opportunity to visit some of them and enjoy them as we do.