Kilchoan is the most westerly village in mainland Great Britain, although several small hamlets lie further west on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Until about 1900 it was accessible only by sea. Then a road was built to link Ardnamurchan with the the rest of Scotland at Salen, 23 miles to the east.
Today this remains a single track road. It mostly follows the peninsula's south coast, except where it takes a major diversion north to avoid Ardnamurchan's highest mountain, the 528m Ben Hiant. For more information about Scotland's single track roads and how to drive them, visit our feature page on driving single track roads.
Kilchoan itself is the only significant settlement in western Ardnamurchan. With a population of around 150 it straggles along the main road and around Kilchoan Bay under the shadow of Beinn na Seig to the west.
Opposite the Ardnamurchan Parish Church is a road running past the new Tourist Information Centre and Community Centre to Mingary Pier. In times gone by this was a calling point for ferries en route from Oban to the Western Isles.
These days it is the terminus for a ferry linking Kilchoan with Tobermory, on Mull. It is only Tobermory's extremely sheltered location that stops it being visible from Kilchoan, across the Sound of Mull.
This ferry link to Tobermory is operated by CalMac and provides an alternative route into or out of Ardnamurchan. This opens up the possibility of a major circular excursion of the West Highlands and Mull including the Corran and Oban to Mull ferries.
Mingary is also home to the formidable Mingary Castle. This was built in the 1200s, effectively by building on the top of a naturally occurring outcrop of rock right on the shore of the bay. The buildings inside the curtain wall date back to 1600s alterations. Mingary Castle was built for the MacIans of Ardnamurchan and had an eventful history, including use by James IV in 1493 and 1495 to help him suppress the Lords of the Isles.
In 1588 the Macleans of Duart tried to capture Mingary Castle with help from a passing Spanish ship en route home from the failure of the Armada (which they subsequently blew up in Tobermory harbour). Later the castle was captured during the Wars of the Covenant in 1644 and 1646, and it served as a government garrison during the 1745 Jacobite uprising (see our Historical Timeline). Since our photo was taken the castle has been restored to provide rather special accommodation for visitors.
Kilchoan itself is the point of focus for the whole of western Ardnamurchan. From here roads take you the remaining half-dozen miles west to Ardnamurchan Point, Great Britain's most westerly mainland point, complete with its lighthouse and visitor centre. Another road leads north-west across the extinct volcanic crater at Achnaha to the stunning beaches at Sanna.
However you choose to get to Kilchoan, it takes some effort, commitment and time. But once you're there you'll see it was all worthwhile. Be careful though, if you have decided to call in as part of a circular tour dependant on ferry timetables, make sure you leave yourself enough time to see and enjoy what the peninsula has to offer. When you are sitting on a sunny beach at Sanna looking into a turquoise sea, you may regret the need to tear yourself away in time to catch a ferry to Mull...