Wild, windswept and rugged; the Ardnamurchan Peninsula was a place I was saving for something special. It’s one of the last remaining wild places in Scotland, with both the beauty of the highlands and the coast.
It’s easy to miss this remote peninsula- and many unfortunately do- as they bypass it in favour of the North-Coast 500 or hopping between Inverness and Glasgow. In a way, it’s one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets: enjoy the rugged scenery of the northern highlands and the Isle of Skye, but without an influx of tourists. It’s the perfect place to visit in Scotland if you want to retreat from the hustle of modern living.
This is just what we did. The Haggis, Alex and I spent three bliss-filled days in Ardnamurchan doing some gentle exploring and slowing down, basing ourselves at Mingarry Park Luxury Hotel & Restaurant– in my opinion, the best accommodation in Ardnamurchan.
Ardnamurchan is the most western point in the United Kingdom on the mainland, and is known as the ‘headland of the great seas.’
Home to just 2000 residents, it’s known for its rugged beauty, remote wilderness, epic food and whisky, tranquil beaches, moody lighthouse and atmospheric castles. Tucked away on the mainland between the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Skye, Ardnamurchan is the perfect pitstop between these two islands if you fancy having rugged, wild nature to yourself.
Personally, I love the Ardnamurchan Peninsula because it is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland, and it’s also a great place to go to escape the hustle and dive into nature.
There are many things to do in Ardnamurchan, but it’s not a place where you need to fill up your list of activities. Slow down. Breathe!
Embody the nature of being, rather than doing. In saying that, I’ve crafted what I believe to be the perfect itinerary for a long weekend in Ardnamurchan- you’ll find it later on in this article.
Accommodation in Ardnamurchan: Mingarry Park Luxury Hotel & Restaurant
Mingarry Park was our accommodation in Ardnamurchan; located in the hamlet of Acharacle, it’s the perfect meeting point to explore Ardnamurchan, Sunart and Moidart. The hotel offers luxury accommodations and is home to an award-winning restaurant (with the best venison I’ve had in Scotland!).
Mingarry Park is family-owned by locals Emma and John MacDonald, and their two children. They’ve created the perfect rural retreat with outstanding Scottish hospitality; they’ve thought of every little thing that their guests may need to have a relaxing stay.
Emma and John refurbished Mingarry Park from the ground up, and attention has been paid to every little detail- from local whiskies sourced for the room’s mini-fridges to luxury mattresses and bedsheets for ultimate relaxation.
They are extremely knowledgeable about the area, and love giving their guests tips about places to go and things to see. They recommended we visit a stunning castle ruin, located just 15 minutes away. It has now topped my list for my favourite castle ruins in Scotland!
About the accommodation
Mingarry Park is the ideal couples retreat or honeymoon accommodation in Ardnamurchan- there’s nothing more romantic than the Scottish wilderness! However, it’s also child-friendly, which was great for us as we come as a triple package now.
There are seven rooms you can choose from, suiting a variety of travellers. Many of the rooms look out to a view of Ben Resipol and the surrounding glen.
Each room is filled with modern amenities, including hair straighteners, GHD hair dryer, a Nespresso Coffee Machine, tea and coffee-making facilities, a Smart TV with Netflix, bathrobes and slippers, and toiletries from the Scottish Fine Soap Company.
All rooms have award-winning Simba memory foam mattresses with luxury 400-thread count Egyptian cotton bedding. Simba has won over 60 awards for their luxury mattresses, and from personal experience, I can assure you, you will have a blissful sleep!
Mingarry Park is also home to a feathered family, including a variety of ducks and two Rhea! They are owned and tended to by Emma’s sister, Nicola. Some of the birds are rescues and others Nicola hatched herself. It’s a peaceful site watching the ducks wander around the paddocks and paddle in the pond!
I love it when I discover accommodation that is more than just a place to rest your head- but it’s an experience in itself. You will want to spend some time here- and I urge you to. If you’re looking to get away from it all to relax and rejuvenate (even if it’s a mid-way stop during your Scotland adventure) then Mingarry is the best place to get back to nature.
You can save 10% on your stay when you use the code KIWI10 (please note the discount excludes Saturdays). Click here to visit the Mingarry Park website.
About the restaurant
The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, but Mingarry Park offers packed lunches and hampers for guests if you will be out and about exploring.
Anyone can dine at the restaurant, but a meal here is best enjoyed with cocktails followed by a deep soak in the hot tub.
Local and ethically sourced ingredients are used wherever possible. Their eggs are sourced from their friend’s free-range hens, located 5 miles up the road. Seafood is landed locally at Mallaig Harbour and delivered straight to their kitchen; the venison is even homegrown, butchered, hung, and aged on the farm until it’s ready for the plate. Their head chef, Hamish, is incredibly talented and adds a unique modern twist to traditional Scottish dishes.
Highlights on the menu for me included chargrilled scallops with black pudding bacon and almond crumb, tablet sticky toffee pudding and of course, the pan-seared venison steak.
They also have a licensed bar, serving a range of cocktails, spirits, wine and beer. You can even order drinks to the garden pods outside, or to your room!
How to get to Ardnamurchan
The best way to get to Ardnamurchan is by car. Because it is one of the most remote areas in Scotland, you really do need a car to explore the peninsula in order to visit the main attractions.
If driving, it’s a good idea to fuel your car at the last major town before you arrive in Ardnamurchan. There are only two petrol stations in Ardnamurchan, in Strontian and Kilchoan.
- If you are driving from Edinburgh or Glasgow, the quickest route is taking the Corran ferry across to Ardgour in Ardnamurchan, and then driving to Acharacle via Salen.
- If you are driving from Inverness, head south along the A82 before turning right onto the Road To The Isles (A830). At Lochailort, turn left onto the A861 and follow this road to Acharacle.
- If you are driving from the Isle of Mull, there are two ferry options you can take to reach Ardnamurchan: the Tobermory to Kilchoan ferry, or the Fishnish to Lochaline ferry. Check out the CalMac website for ferry timetables.
Itinerary for your stay in Ardnamurchan
Day 1 – The journey to Ardnamurchan
The first day of your adventure starts before you arrive at Mingarry Park- as there are plenty of things to see and do on the drive there.
If you are driving from Inverness, you will pass the Glenfinnan Monument and Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Glenfinnan Monument is the location where 1,200 Highlanders gathered to pledge allegiance to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Cause in 1745.
The Visitor Centre has an excellent display on the Jacobites, so do stop by!
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was made famous by the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Remember the scene with the flying car chasing the Hogwarts Express?
You can actually watch the Hogwarts Express aka the Jacobite Steam Train cross the viaduct- I’ve written a great guide right here.
If you are driving from Edinburgh or Glasgow and taking the Corran ferry, this is a wonderfully scenic drive, first with expansive views across to the mountains of Glencoe to the east, before reaching the shores of Loch Sunart.
I recommend stopping along the way to stretch your legs and go for a gentle hike. The Salen Oakwoods walk is rated easy and takes you through beautiful ancient oak woodlands near Loch Sunart. It takes just 1 hour and is an excellent walk to help you slow down and reconnect.
After checking in to Mingarry Park, I recommend ordering cocktails to one of the outdoor pods before having dinner at the award-winning restaurant.
After dinner either relax in the jacuzzi (if you have booked a room with one) or curl up with a book or a film on Netflix.
Start your day slowly with a lie-in. One of my favourite things to do in the morning is listen to a guided meditation and then set an intention for the day. There are lots of 10-minute guided meditations on YouTube you can listen to for free, or if you prefer silence, just take some nice, big deep breaths for between 5-10 minutes.
Taking slow, deep breaths is the only way you can signal to your body that you are safe, and just 5 minutes of deep breathing in the morning is an excellent way to lower your stress levels.
Next, head next door to the restaurant for a delicious Full-Scottish Breakfast.
For your first activity of the day, I recommend driving to Castle Tioram, which is just 15 minutes from Mingarry Park. Along the way, look out for the River Shiel Old Bridge, a picturesque early 19th-century bridge.
There is a car park at the end of Dorlin Road, and you can walk the remainder of the way, crossing the causeway at low tide to see the castle up close.
The castle is closed inside, and unsafe to enter due to the risk of falling masonry.
After exploring the castle I suggest going for a hike and surrounding yourself in nature. If you’re lucky you may spot some local wildlife, including deer or golden eagles.
Here is a full list of hikes in Ardnamurchan you can choose from.
After another filling dinner at your accommodation, relax in the jacuzzi and order some cocktails to your room to enjoy.
On day three, I recommend driving to the magnificent beach at Sanna Bay and then exploring Ardnamurchan Point. These two stunning attractions both reside on the West coast, and though they don’t look like they’re very far from your accommodation on the map, it’s a 3.5-hour round-trip due to the majority of the roads being single-track.
Take your time as one of the highlights of this trip is the drive itself; you’ll trace the perimeter of Loch Sunart, pass through highland villages, and head inland through rocky and barren moorland before reaching the coast.
Be sure to call into the Ardnamurchan Distillery in Glenbeg. The distillery offers tours and tastings (and takeaway drams for your driver!).
From the village of Kilchoan towards Sanna Bay, you will be driving through the centre of a huge and ancient volcanic crater.
Sanna Bay often tops ‘best beaches in Scotland’ lists. Explore the sand dunes and rocky headland, and dip your toes in the crisp azure water. Keep an eye out for otters. The naturalists will love the flora and fauna in this area!
A visit to the Ardnamurchan lighthouse is a must. Designed by Alan Stevenson, Ardnamurchan lighthouse was built in 1849 using granite from the Isle of Mull. The lighthouse is still in operation and is now owned by the community. You can go on a tour of the lighthouse, and enjoy coffee and cake at the Stables Coffee Shop.
From the lighthouse, you’ll catch views across to Mull, Coll, the Small Isles, and the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides on a clear day.
Day 4 – Heading home
At this point, I am sure you will be feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and healed by the Highlands.
Today is the day you will either head home, or onwards on your Scotland trip. You may even want to tag on a few more days in Ardnamurchan to do some more hiking (here’s a good list of hikes in Ardnamurchan).
Depending on your next location, I recommend reading my other helpful Scotland guides on this website.
Do you have a question about visiting Ardnamurchan? Leave a comment and I’ll answer it for you!
More tips for visiting Ardnamurchan
– For inspiration for finding more things to do, check out the Mingarry Park blog.
– Visit the official tourism website West Highland Peninsulas for more information on visiting Ardnamurchan and the surrounding regions.
This blog post was sponsored by Mingarry Park Luxury Hotel and Restaurant. All opinions are honest and entirely my own- Yvette