Wild Times out West
The west coast of the Scottish mainland has some of the most spectacular wilderness in the country, hundreds of miles of unspoilt and pristine countryside that is not only accessible but free for anyone to access. Here are a few of our top suggestions for some wild times out west this summer.
A Walk on the Wild Side
The Cape Wrath Trail is an epic walking route that was devised as a continuation of the west highland way. It meanders through some of the most scenic and remote parts of the north west before finishing at the lighthouse at cape wrath. Completing the entirety is a massive undertaking but dipping into it for a day or two is perfectly doable for those of moderate fitness. It doesn’t take long before you can immerse yourself in the landscape and feel completely detached from the outside world. After only a few hours walking it is possible to find yourself in location without any visible signs of human activity, a perfectly preserved piece of the rural highlands that has probably lain untouched for hundreds of years. It’s a glorious feeling but as someone who loves home comforts, I love the fact that after a day in the middle of nowhere I can return to a warm fire, a comfy sofa and a big telly. Culkein Lodge offers the best of both worlds, all of this but with the great outdoors practically on your doorstep.
A Wild Swim
There is nothing quite like a dip in the Atlantic, feeling the surf breaking over your skin as you slip under the azure waters. The magic of the gulf stream keeps temperatures to a manageable temperature on the west coast and its easy to find a quiet spot to access the water where it feels like you have the entire ocean to yourself. You never have to go far on the west coast before finding a suitable spot but one of the most enticing is Camusdarach beach near Arisaig. This is where Local Hero was filmed and the spectacular rolling dunes and golden sands are certainly photogenic. Star na Mara is perfectly places to take advantage of this coastline, it has stunning views over to the small isles of Rhum and Eigg and is a luxurious family home. Its also one of the best places in the country for paddling and sea kayak rental is available locally for those who want to enjoy the water without getting wet.
A Wild Ride
Mountain biking is a fantastic way to appreciate some of the mountain scenery of the west. For those who are really adventurous then the Highland Trail is a 550 mile trail that takes in a massive loop around the highlands. It’s a bit like the two wheeled off-road equivalent of the North Coast 500 with lots of added hills. Understandably its not for the faint of heart but as with the cape wrath trail it is easily accessible and can be broken down into a number of smaller day rides. Some of the highlights such as the section through Torridon are truly world class. Its reputation has grown so much in the last few years that a number of local businesses now offer guided trips and bike rental in the area. Whether you are taking on an epic adventure of just enjoying pootling about then Down House would make a great base. It’s a quiet forest retreat at the end of the Diabeg road with expansive views. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the landscape and really feel a part of it.
A wide variety of wildlife also makes their home in the great Scottish wilderness and it is a true pleasure to witness some in their natural habitat. Ardlarach Lodge looks down towards the sound of Luing and is a fab spot for an appreciation of the natural world, deer and cattle can be seen a short distance from the house and otter dolphins and seals in the local waters. Deerstalking and fishing are available but most will be content with photographic mementos of this idyllic island retreat. Spring is particularly colourful as the island is carpeted with primroses, bluebells and wild iris.