The "Road to the Isles" has received "mythical staus" according to the Time Out Guide to 1,000 Great Holiday Ideas! Here are some suggestions to get you going.













The Lochaber area covers over 2,000 square miles of the beautiful West coast of Scotland and has been designated "The Outdoor Capital of the U.K."  We may not have it ALL, but we have got A LOT!

• The highest mountain - Ben Nevis
• The most dramatic glen - Glen Coe
• The wildest peninsula - Knoydart
• The westernmost point of mainland Britain - Ardnamurchan Point
• The deepest inland water - Loch Morar
• 100s of offshore islands - The Small Isles 

Lochaber is an outdoor playground like no other. With spectacular beaches, sheltered coastline, islands, glens, mountains, forests, lochs AND Ben Nevis and Glencoe, there's no better place to get out and enjoy the stunning Highland landscape.

Known as the "Road to the Isles" because of the ferry links from Mallaig to Skye and the Small Isles, the area from Fort William to Mallaig encompasses wild hills, lochs and a stunning coastline. The Arisaig and Morar area is also know by the Gaelic name "Nan garbh Criochan" or the "Rough Bounds".

If you are going to be driving along the "Road to the Isles" you could look at the Lochaber Geopark website and learn a little about the geology of the area you are travelling through. Renowned for its spectacular scenery, Lochaber Geopark tells the extraordinary story behind the formation of the local landscape. Learn more about the highest mountain, the deepest loch, the longest glen, the deepest pothole and the most westerly point!


This is one thing we can’t control, so come prepared for anything! Whatever the weather you will be cosy and warm in your accommodation.

“It was wet. It was windy. It was wild. It was wonderful! Then the sun came out. Beautiful rainbows over the sea adding even more to the views." David and Alison. N. Yorks. Oct. 2004

"This has been the first time our kids have visited Scotland. Thanks to the absolutely marvellous weather their opinion will always be that Scotland is a place of blazing sun, blue sky, blue sea and dazzling sandy beaches. Thank you God!" Ives - Malvern

" ... 22deg.C - 25deg.C for one whole week" Kielenstyn - Holland

"Disappointing weather has made us appreciate all the more that we are in a comfortable chalet, immaculate and well equipped..." Strathie - E.Kilbride

What's the weather today?





The Arisaig and Lochaber area has an interesting history. Follow in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. Discover abandoned settlements and castles.

Learn more from the West Highland Museum in Fort William, the oldest museum in Scotland and world famous for its Jacobite collections, the Heritage Centre in Mallaig, the Land, Sea and Islands Centre in Arisaig and the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre (National Trust), next to the Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel, where Prince Charles Edward Stuart's Standard was raised on 19 August 1745 in the last attempt to reinstate the exiled Stuarts to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland.


The ruined Castle Tioram (pronounced Cheerum) is sited on the rocky tidal island Eilean Tioram (the Dry Island) where the waters of Loch Moidart and the river Shiel meet. The castle is closed to visitors but it is possible to visit the island at low tide and look at the castle exterior. The Moidart Local History website provides a full history of the castle.

More recently, in 1940, Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, ordered his generals to “set Europe ablaze”. The men and women who would carry out his orders were to become the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The rugged West Highlands of Scotland became the location where the saboteurs, commandos, agents and radio operators were to be trained in secrecy. Here in the remote hills the men and women that were to take the undercover fight to Europe could be trained without attracting attention.
A huge swathe of the West Highlands north of Fort William was declared a Special Protected Area. The Morar Peninsula was accessible by one road only and the railway to Mallaig. Estates and their lodges were requisitioned. The North Morar Estate, now owned by impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh, was volunteered for service by the then Lord Lovat, the dashing “Shimi” who formed the early commando units and strode onto the D-Day beaches to the strains of Heilan' Laddie played by his personal piper.
In early wartime, SOE and commando training was centred at Inverailort Castle at Lochailort. The train bringing new recruits was regularly ambushed to give newcomers a taste of what to expect. “We were shot at all the way as we were running the mile and half to the big house and when we arrived there we were shown some Nissen huts on the lawn and told, ‘Find yourselves a bed, that's where you're going to live',” recalled Major RF “Henry” Hall of the Dorset Regiment.

A cavalcade of wartime names went through Inverailort and the remote training lodges. They included the actor David Niven, David Stirling a cousin of Lord Lovat and founder of the SAS, and Peter Fleming, brother of Ian, creator of James Bond. Ian Fleming, who had joined Naval Intelligence was to create what became 30 Commando, trained in the Highlands, to collect technical intelligence from behind enemy lines before it could be destroyed in the face of an Allied advance.

The SOE soon needed a place of its own. Training HQ was moved to Arisaig House and 10 shooting lodges were taken over.  The courses included physical training, silent killing, weapons handling, demolition, map reading, compass work, field craft, elementary Morse code, and raid tactics.

Glasnacardoch Lodge was the haunt of weapons and field craft instructor Gavin Maxwell, later to make his name as author of “Ring of Brightwater”. And also for his involvement in the none-too-successful shark oil business with Tex Geddes on the island of Soay, recounted in “Harpoon at a Venture”.
You will find a monument to these hardy folk on the road from Fort William to Spean Bridge.





The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show, followed by a ceilidh in the Astley Hall, Arisaig. First  Saturday in June. Followed by an evening ceilidh in the Astley Hall. 

Arisaig Highland Games – last Wednesday in July 12.30pm Venue: Traigh Farm Arisaig Tel: 01687 450604 - see their website ArisaigHighlandGames for details on the year's event. 

Mallaig & Morar Highland Games - first Sunday in August  12 noon. Venue: Lovat Memorial Field Morar Tel: 01324 552841 

Glenfinnan Highland Games - middle Saturday August  11.30am Venue: Field by the Glenfinnan Monument Tel: 01397 722234 
Lochaber Highland Games (Fort William) - Wednesday 30 July 2014 12.30pm Venue: An Aird, Fort William


When asked to name his favourite spot in the world, Ewan McGregor  said: “It has to be Camusdarach beach, near Arisaig in the Highlands. We used to camp there when I was a kid.”

From Ach na skia you can walk to a variety of sandy and rocky beaches. At low tide you can walk out to some of the small islands.

Camusdarach beach, made famous as "Ben's beach" in the film "Local Hero" and the Orange mobile advert, is 2mls. away, the Silver Sands of Morar just a little further on.

Traigh beach, by the old road, is a great place to see sea birds, especially the oyster catcher and curlew. You can always find a beach to yourself somewhere.

As well as the brilliant views of Eigg and Rum to the west, the Black and Red Cuillins on Skye make a stunning backdrop to the north.


The area is rich in a wide range of sea and shore birds, as well as birds of prey, heron, many varieties of geese and ducks. Some birds you might spot are: oyster catchers, razorbill, greenshanks, redshank, black guillemot, whooper swans, Iceland gulls, sandpipers, goldeneye, turnstones, Arctic skua, twite, linnet, red-breasted merganser, goosander, great northern diver, redpoll, bullfinch, storm petrel, golden plover, dunlin, tern, sanderling, kestrel,, blue and great tits, chaffinches, yellow hamers, green finch, tree creeper, robin, dunnet, blackbird, thrush, goldfinch, gannets, kittiwakes, great skua, redwing and fieldfare.... for starters!

Lapwing swoop and play in the field below the Lodges, seeing off the local buzzard when the nest is threatened. Sea eagles can be seen occasionally and have nested in the area, as do golden eagles. Puffins and rafts of Manx Shearwater may be sighted on the journey to or from the Small Isles. In the past couple of years an increasing number of Greylag geese are to be seen in the fields around Ach na skia Croft. Sparrowhawks occasionally makes a meal of some of our smaller garden birds. Buzzards are frequently circling round looking for their next meal. Our gardens are very bird friendly and attract a wide range of nesting and feeding birds. Even the wrens are tame. 
For help identifying a bird or to find out more about birds you see check out the RSPB website.


Day trips run from Arisaig to the Small Isles of EiggRum and Muck, and from Mallaig to various destinations such as Skye, Knoydart, Loch Nevis and the Crowlin Islands. The sea round Arisaig and the ‘Small Isles’ of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna has one of the richest collections of marine and other wildlife in Europe. Its waters are used by several kinds of dolphin, porpoise and whales and the islands are home to both sea and golden eagles, red deer and otters. Humpack whales have sighted on a number of occasions in the little Minch between Arisaig and Skye.

Arisaig Marine has been operating a summer ferry service to the Small Isles for over 25 years and provides an essential lifeline for residents as a ferry of people and provisions. Over that time they have built up a tremendous experience of the area’s wildlife and culture. This specialist knowledge allows Arisaig Marine to give visitors a great deal of ‘added value’ to their sailings and turn a boat trip into an educational adventure. Trips to the Small Isles on M.V. Sheerwater  from Arisaig allow time on an island and also follow any whales, basking shark, dolphins or porpoises sighted en route. The crossing is often lengthened as whales and dolphins are seen near the boat and speed is reduced to allow passengers to see these creatures and take photographs.The best time for sightings of minke whale is generally during August. A variety of sea birds, such as tern, shearwater, guillemot, shag, cormorant, skua, razorbill, fulmar may be sighted. Sailings run from late April till late September.

Bring something warm to wear, sun cream and a hat. The combination of sun, clear sea air and wind can easily burn without you noticing.

Cal Mac Ferries run a regular car ferry service to Skye from Mallaig all year round.

Minch Adventures Explore with Minch Adventures. Charter boat concierge service; experience the Knoydart Peninsula, Skye and the Small Isles aboard our vessel Reel One.

The Knoydart Ferry runs trips from Mallaig up Loch Nevis, to Inverie and Tarbet, daily in summer, thrice weekly the rest of the year.

Sea.fari Adventures operate wildlife watching adventures in fast ribs from Armadale and Mallaig. Tel. 01471 833316. 

Ardnamurchan Charters, based at Laga on the Ardnamurchan peninsular, offer trips to Mull, Staffa, the Treshnish Isles and marine wildlife cruises, as well a individual guided trips and boat charter.

Take a boat trip up Loch Shiel on the M.V.Sileas from Glenfinnan with Loch Shiel Eagle-Watch Cruises. Share the skipper’s eleven years’ experience of spotting Golden Eagles, Red Deer, Black-Throated Divers and a variety of rare wildlife. Learn the history of this special, remote and unspoiled part of the Highlands. Cruises run from end of March to early October. 


sea kayaking open canoeing skiing walking mountain biking

This is a great area to explore by water.
Rockhopper Sea Kayaking, based at the Arisaig Hotel, offer guided trips in the area, with gear provided. Double and single sea kayaks, Canadian canoes and Stand-up-Paddle boards (SUP). Check their website for what's available and lots of great photos. Advance booking usually required.


Arisaig Archery   

Arisaig Archery is next to the Arisaig Hotel. Fun for all the family. Phone or email to book in advance where possible. Tel. 07479 793 978. Email: Web: Facebook:


Bikes are available to hire at the Arisaig Hotel if you want a bike to explore the local area. Book in advance with John at West Coast Cycle Hire and pick up your bikes when you get here, or enquire at the hotel reception. Bike hire is also available in Fort William and at Nevis Range. If you're looking for a bit of a challenge, Nevis Range downhill (just outside Fort William) is one of the longest and most physically demanding on the World Cup circuit. Also on offer at Nevis Range are the forest trailsLeanachan Forest , situated on the lower slopes of Aonach Mor, is fast becoming a mecca for riders of all abilities. Offering some of Britain's best terrain, ranging from gentle family trails through to international standard race routes. There are over 25 miles of forest tracks to explore on foot or bike, all with the stunning backdrop of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Ride Fort William has suggestions for routes to suit all levels of rider, whether you're into Cross Country, Downhill or a quiet ride through the forest. Some ideas for cycle rides in the area here.

For something a little different you might like to try swimming, sliding and leaping your way down waterfalls with "Vertical Descentsat Onich.


To hire a boat and rod to fish on Loch Morar contact Mr. E. MacDonald 01687 462520. Further info. about fishing on Loch Morar can be found here.

Sea fishing trips can be arranged out of Mallaig with Ewen Nicholson on the 30' "Grimsay Isle " Tel. 01687 462 652 Mobile: 07880815158. Website. Email


Traigh (pronounced Try) golf course, 9 holes, is right by the edge of the sea, 1.5mls.(2.4kms) away, with beautiful views (as you search for your ball!) of the islands. You can hire clubs at the club house. The green fees are very reasonable.


HIGH WIRE ADVENTURE at Nevis Range - for family fun or challenging adventure. Four separate courses (Squirrel, Barn Owl, Red Fox and Wildcat) including a 100cm zip wire and a 'fan drop'.  The Squirrel is the lowest course (1-1.5m high) and a small child (min 120cm TBC) will be able to do the course with an adult by their side (if needed!) ... whilst the Red fox and Wildcat courses will be built some 10m high in the forest and the features will be the most challenging.  This activity is built on poles and trees in the forest and comprises 'features' made of wood, wire and rope.


Nevis Range less than an hour's drive, offers activities year round. The mountain gondola runs every day, weather permitting. The top is the starting point for skiing, snowboarding, sledging winter climbing, walking and the start of Britain's only World Class downhill track with gondola access. The 3km. track descends 2000ft. back to the car park - for experienced cyclists only! On the lower slopes are 25km. of marked mountain biking trails, graded from easy to expert, ideal for families to have a ride and take a picnic with some spectacular mountain views.



You can, of course, swim in the sea, but there's also a great Leisure Centre in Mallaig which boasts a superb 20m x 10m pool, a well equipped Gym with both Cardio-vascular and weight machines and free weights, a spacious classroom for classes, a luxurious sauna and spa, and an excellent viewing gallery with pool table. Check thier website or leaflets for opening times.


There is walking to suit every degree of ambition, from a gentle stroll to the beach to Munro bagging. You will find some suggestions for walks in our Information pack. Take a look at our Walks page for some suggestions for local walks.
The local Ranger offers regular organised walks in summer, of varying degrees of exertion and is able to tell you about local history and the nature of the area en route. Bring sturdy, waterproof footwear.


If you plan to go walking in the mountains while you're here you can check the mountain forecast at Mountain Weather ForecastsIf you fancy an ascent of Ben Nevis then do your homework first, by checking out the Ben Nevis Guide, Ben Nevis navigation and Ben Nevis Safety leaflets and getting well prepared in advance. Want a guide? Try Adventure Nevis - Ben Nevis Mountain Guides in both Summer and Winter with an option of routes. Short Walking breaks to Knoydart and the Isle of Rum.



To round off your day there is frequently some kind of entertainment going on, with events in the Astley Hall in Arisaig and regular sessions in the Arisaig Hotel on Friday evenings from 9p.m.. There are also occasional events in the Mallaig and Morar Community Centre and the Glenuig Hall. There are sometimes plays too, as well as events for children in the day time and the occasional Family Ceilidh.

The area is rugged and beautiful and the scenery changes round every corner and every day, according to the weather. Many of the roads are narrow or single track, so don’t be too ambitious with distances - take your time and see more.
Close to home:
Drive along the north side of Loch Morar, keeping an eye out for our own monster, Morag!
Along the Rhu road you might see ........ seals basking on the rocks offshore, herons standing majestically, cormorants holding out their wings to dry, red deer grazing, otter feasting on a fish .....

A good long day trip is to visit the Ardnamurchan peninsular - the most westerly point of the British mainland, with a few stops along the way to visit points of interest such as Castle Tioram and the Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre, which the children will enjoy, ending up at the lighthouse at the most westerly point, which also has a small, interactive display centre and coffee shop. 
For another day drive take the early ferry to Skye, drive up to the Skye bridge and come back by the road. Or take the ferry both ways and spend the day exploring some of this big and varied island. Or leave the car behind and take a guided tour of the island from Armadale, with lunch at Dunvegan Castle and an hour in Portree.


"The Jacobite" steam train (now famous from its appearancs in Harry Potter films) runs from Fort William to Mallaig and back every day except Saturday between mid June and end September, stopping to allow for photography and with time out in Mallaig at lunch-time.

Departs Fort William for Mallaig twice daily. Morning departure from Fort William at 10.20am run May to October.  Afternoon departure from Fort William June to August.Twice daily departures on Saturdays and Sundays from June to August.Check website for details and Book online: or call 01524 737751/737753

The West Highland Line, which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig, has been voted the top railway journey in the world.



You are very aware here that you are sharing the earth with many wild creatures. The quiet and careful observer can see much in the way of interesting flora and fauna. Grey and Atlantic seals, otters, pine marten, re deer and wild cats are native to the area - some are easier to spot than others!

If you go out in a kayak you may find yourself being investigated by inquisitive seals or even a school of dolphin!

Orchids and alpine type plants grow wild. The delicate colours and patterns of the lichen that proliferates in this clean air cover the rocks. 

Visit  Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre.

 Wildlife identification guides. 




- less than an hour away

  • Sandy beaches, rock pools, shallow bays for paddling, rocks to jump off, islands to explore at low tide, sand dunes - you name it, you can find it round here!
  • Games in the field. There is a volley net and loads of space to play footbal or cricket or run around. Fenced play area with slide and swings for young children. Games Room with Pool table and table tennis.
  • Boat trips to the Small Isles with time ashore to explore and the chance of seeing minke whale, basking shark, porpoises, dolphin, otter, seals, seabirds, eagles.
  • Watch the fish being landed in Mallaig.
  • Try to catch a fish in the river at the end of the Croft
  • The Agricultural Show and the Highland Games have events and games for children.
  • Mallaig Swimming Pool also has a pool table, jacuzzi, sauna, toning table and well-equipped fitness room. During the summer there are special fun sessions for children.
  • Steam train journey from Fort William to Mallaig and back.
  • Keep an eye out for notices - there may be puppet shows or clown workshops or drumming and break-dancing workshops going on while you’re here.
  • Treasures of the Earth in Fort William - beautiful gemstones and fossils.
  • Nevis Range - ride up in the gondola to see the views across Lochaber, have a walk on one of the trails, try one of the cycle tracks made for the Mountain Bike World Cup, or go skiing (dry slope in summer).

".... highlight was taking the gondola to Aonach Mor/Ben Nevis - worth the trip for views - decent restaurant at the top" Tim and Helen, Macclesfield

"I couldn’t have wished for a better place to spend my (15th.) birthday and holiday.” Bryony

" ..... kids have enjoyed the field, garden & wildlife"

" My favourite things were playing on the beaches, rockpooling and seeing the otter catching fish." Emma (age 9)

"Walked to Rhu and onto the rocky beach, where we found 4 types of sea anemone, hermit crabs, seals and lots of other shell fish"




The area is a paradise for the photographer and painter, with constantly changing light and a vast range of interesting images to focus lense or eye on. The artist Jon Schueler lived at Mallaig for many years and most of his best known work was produced there.

Many painters have used Ach na skia as a base for painting, including Ken Lochhead, seen here at work outside Creag Mhor Lodge. His beautifully crafted pictorial maps adorn all our properties.

Local galleries:

Mallaig Art Gallery and Crafts - sells a wide selection of Original Art and Prints. Artists include Anthony Barber, Judith Bridgland, Pam Carter. Pottery from Skye and Poole. Local Knitwear - Ginger. Jewellery, Glass, and more... 
Lime Tree Gallery, Fort William - artist-in-residence Dave Wilson specialises in mountain landscapes and stained glass.
Resipole Studios, Acharacle - a unique Art venue incorporating an art gallery, studio provision, framing service and art courses.






MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL - Nevis Centre, Fort William 



LOCH SHIEL SPRING FESTIVAL   A week long programme of concerts and workshops around the Loch Shiel Area. Leading artists from all over Scotland and beyond team up to perform classical music befitting the scenic splendour of the West Highlands. Albeit short of lavish concert halls, the villages round Loch Shiel offer a series of imaginative ranging from the awe-inspiring to the picturesque and festival programmes are devised to match.


SCOTTISH SIX DAYS MOTORCYCLE TRIAL   Motorcycle riders from all over the world compete in this "extreme sport", covering different on/off-road routes around Lochaber on each of the six days. Starts and finishes in Fort William's West End Car Park each day.

KNOYDART FESTIVAL - book early to avoid disappointment



UCI Fort William MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD CUP  An adrenaline packed weekend guaranteed! Hundreds of professional mountain bikers return to Nevis Range each year for this multi-award winning sporting occasion. The weekend's centrepiece will be world class downhill and 4-cross action. For further details and ticket sales visit:

MUCK OPEN DAY Travel there and back on the Sheerwater from Arisaig. A good day out with lovely home baking at the tea room and tour of the island by the owner.



Arisaig Highland Games – last Wednesday in July 12.30pm Venue: Traigh Farm Arisaig Tel: 01687 450604 - see their website ArisaigHighlandGames for details on the year's event.


Mallaig & Morar Highland Games - first Sunday in August 12 noon. Venue: Lovat Memorial Field Morar Tel: 01324 552841 

Glenfinnan Highland Games  – middle Saturday August 11.30am Venue: Field by the Glenfinnan Monument Tel: 01397 722234 


Monthly - Produce Fair at Astley Hall, Arisaig from 11am - 3pm. Free entry. Soup and sandwiches.

End August - RNLI Gala Day in Mallaig

September - Mallaig Schools Gala Day



A great place to celebrate that romantic occasion, whether it be honeymoon, birthday, wedding or wedding anniversary.


Fuze Ceremonies can help you celebrate your wedding, baby naming, funeral service or affirmation of vows. 

Anne Widdop's professional team of Humanist Marriage Officers, Baby Naming Officiants, 

Funeral Officiants and Speech Writers will take care of every aspect of your ceremony.



"Thank you for a wonderful honeymoon. The scenery is beautiful and the beaches picturesque. It’s worth stopping up just to see the sun setting (around 11pm). I wish we were here longer as there’s so much to do and see. The one wish we got was to see some wild red deer in their natural surroundings."

".. the perfect place to start married life. The chalet (Glen Mhor) is lovely and snug …. the best holiday ever; we are sad to leave and will be back …" Nicky and Paul

" It was beautiful, a wonderful place to spend the honeymoon, a tremendous week with beautiful weather"





There is a range of places to enjoy a meal out.


In Arisaig, the Arisaig Hotel serves meals in the bar and the dining room in summer. Café Rhu serves food during the day. The "Old Library Lodge" serves morning coffee, lunches and dinners. The Arisaig Harbour tearoom at the pier sells home baking and also crafts, gifts and some chandlery.

Mallaig has a choice of cafés, restaurants and bar meals, as well as fish and chips to take-away.


For a different night out you could get the boat across to Doune on Knoydart and have a meal in the restaurant there, where everything is home-made from locally sourced fresh ingredients.



Try a delicious, authentic Thai take away 


Buy some local Highland beef - steaks, burgers, links and lorne sausage - or Blackface lamb chops for the BBQ from Invercaimbe Highland Beef - just along the road. Beef is available frozen from the caravan site or fresh on specific days every month/ 6 weeks. 


Make a visit to Andy Race or Lawrie's fish shop in Mallaig to pick up some delicious fresh Mallaig fish.


Sunnyside campsite has a small site shop with a range of produce from basic provisions to local/highland produce, walking guides, maps, gifts.


Make a Reservation

Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre

Arbonne health and beauty products