Ardnamurchan Point is the most westerly point in mainland Britain. Possibly more interestingly, getting to it involves not just a journey west, but also a journey back in time, to the Highlands of 50 years or more ago, when most roads were single track and the council's annual budget for white road paint was minimal.
The main route shown on the map in dark blue is 80 miles long and makes a fascinating day out into the little known areas of Ardgour and Moidart. It should be tackled clockwise as this tends to keep the sun behind you more than in front of you and it means you'll be driving the easiest roads at the end of the day.
The suggested excursion, in light blue on the map, adds 25 miles (each way making 50 miles for the return journey) of single track road to Ardnamurchan Point, and there's an added side excursion of four miles each way to Sanna. Those excursions really are a central to the point of this tour: and you miss the splendour of Ardnamurchan if you omit them.
We assume your starting point to be Fort William. From here you head south west down the twisting and not especially pleasant stretch of the A82 alongside Loch Linnhe, but only as far as the Corran Ferry. The ferry transports you away from the the hustle and bustle of the east shore of Loch Linnhe to the totally different, more peaceful, world on the west shore.
From the ferry you head south west along Loch Linnhe then west along Glen Tarbert, on good roads, to the pretty village of Strontian. The single track road beyond Strontian follows the north shore of Loch Sunart to Salen. Here you either stay on the A861 as it turns north towards Acharacle or, if you are taking the excursion to Ardnamuchan, turn left onto the entirely single track B8007.
This is a road of great character and interest. For the first half of its length, it continues to follow the north shore of Loch Sunart through a series of small settlements like Laga, Glenborrodale and Glenbeg. But near Ardslignish you are confronted by the bulk of Ben Hiant ahead of you and close to the shore. The road takes the easier option, heading inland to the centre of the peninsula before curving around the far side of the mountain to (almost) meet the shore again at Kilchoan.
For those wanting to plan really adventurous circular routes, Kilchoan is the terminus of a ferry to Tobermory on Mull. And it is worth the slight diversion to take a look at the attractive bay from which the ferry operates. If you have time in hand, another diversion to Mingary Castle, perched on the rocky shoreline, is also worthwhile.
But our route carries on through Kilchoan and north west through increasingly rocky and rough terrain. In the tiny settlement of Achosnich look out for a signposted left turn that takes you the last couple of miles to the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse: and be prepared for the traffic light controls that govern the last couple of hundred yards on arrival. Here you find a visitor centre and cafe and the most westerly point in mainland Britain. Well... almost: a close look at the map suggests that this title actually falls to a small headland about a mile south of the lighthouse. But as you enjoy a well earned cup of coffee, that's probably a distinction you won't worry about too much.
Half a mile before you arrive back in Kilchoan, a turning on your left to Sanna is well worth taking. After four miles of some of the oddest scenery in Scotland, across the centre of the crater of a very long extinct volcano, you arrive at the scattered settlement of Sanna and, the real reason for coming here, one of the best beaches in Scotland.
After retracing your steps along the Ardnamurchan Peninsula you take a left at Salen to Acharacle, and then on to meet the A830 at Lochailort. Those with time and stamina in hand might want to take the trip Arisaig and Mallaig, but most will turn right towards Fort William. The main point of interest on the remainder of the road is at Glenfinnan, complete with the Glenfinnan Monument and the nearby railway viaduct: which will be familiar to Harry Potter fans.
Visitor InformationDistances: The main circular route covers 80 miles. You only really get the best from the trip by adding in the optional 25 miles each way on single track roads to Ardnamurchan Point. And if you have gone to Ardnamurchan Point, then the side trip to Sana is 4 miles each way, again on single track roads.
Fuel: There are petrol stations open at least some of the time in Fort William and Strontian.