Friday, 29 June 2012

Murrays on Tour - Portuairk & Bay MacNeill

Tuesday 19th June,

Beinn Resipol from the lounge 07.00 – not actually raining yet.
With the good weather of yesterday sadly lacking as I looked out the widow this morning, we decided that we would take the opportunity to explore the area by car. We did of course pack the walking gear just in case things brightened up. We decided we’d cross to the north side of the loch and head generally west towards the Ardnamurchin lighthouse. There was no particular reason for this other than we fancied a look around Strontian and maybe grab a cup of coffee before we set off. As it turned out the coffee was very nice but not quite as nice as the home-bakes, made all the nicer by the torrential rain bouncing off the roof of the cafe! Still we’d had a good day yesterday and if that was the only nice weather we were going to see this week we decided to be philosophical about it and enjoy the drive today. As it happened the weather began to improve as we journeyed west and by the time we pulled into the view point at Camas nan Geall it had cleared enough to give us some hope of a walk later on.
Camas nan Geall
We gave some consideration to pulling on the walking gear and taking advantage of the weather by exploring the bay but the car park was busy and it looked as if other people were thinking along the same lines, so we decided to stick to the plan and carried on our journey westward, stopping along the way for photographs of course.
Looking west
Our next brief stop was at the natural history centre Nadurra just west of Glenborrodale. We had a look round the shop but the interactive exhibition looked to be based around kids and, although I’m sure it would have been educational, we decided to give it a miss. We stopped again at the ferry terminal at Kilchoan to check the sailings to Mull as a possibility of a day out should the weather breakdown later in the week.
Mingary castle
We were now sure that the weather was going to hold long enough for us to get a walk during the afternoon so we dismissed the idea of visiting the lighthouse and settled on a walk that would take in Bay MacNeill and hopefully give us some decent photos. We parked above the village of Portuairk and wound our way down the zig-zag bends towards the houses. The views to the west from above the village were fantastic.
Looking west from above Portuairk
We made our way through the few, well spaced houses stopping all the while to take yet more photos. It didn’t seem to matter which way you looked, there was always something else, equally spectacular to see.
Looking North West
The path passed the last house and led down onto a small inlet before turning away from the shore and up a gully. At this point we were wondering if we’d made a mistake because it was muddy underfoot and not particularly appealing. However at the top of the gully the path began to make its way across the moorland and between two hills and looking back we were given nice views of the village and looking northwest we had spectacular views of the islands.
Over the moors towards a gap in the hills
Looking northwest to the Western Isles
Looking back to the village of Portuairk
It was at this point we decided to take a bit of a detour up onto the hill on our right. There was a faint path just at the highest point of the pass before it dropped down again towards the beach. The climb was easy and well worth the little effort involved. It was difficult to believe we were on the west coast of Scotland and not somewhere in the Mediterranean.
A little effort would lead to some great views
Looking southeast to Ardnamurchan Point
We retraced our steps back to the path and made our way through the pass before taking another detour up onto a lower hill but one that gave us a nice view of the white sands of Bay MacNeill.
Bay MacNeill
Eventually we made our way down past the ruins of an old croft where we stopped to pick some wild mint that was probably a legacy from the last tenants of the croft, and down onto the sandy beach.
The white sands of Bay MacNeill
With the beautiful weather and the crystal clear waters, having a paddle became almost inevitable. The only surprise really was that the water wasn’t nearly as cold as we expected!
Honest it’s really pleasant!
We sat in the sun, (for the second day in a row), and had some lunch while our feet dried before heading up through the small caravan park by a waymarked route. We stopped to take more photos before the views disappeared as we headed inland and our route back to the car.

Having fun with the lighthouse
Looking north
The path then made its way across the open moorland for a while before reaching the access road for the lighthouse. At this point we could have turned right and visited the building itself but we decided that since it was getting quite late in the day we should start our journey back to the car. We stopped for a while to watch a pair of eagles soaring high above the cliffs but they never got close enough for me to be able to photograph them. Obviously a bit camera shy.The views now began to open up to the south as we made our way along the road.
Looking south
We deviated from the route for the third time when we came across a sign for a footpath to Portuairk which we followed for a while. It gave us some great views to the northwest again before we cut across from the path and back to the road where we had parked the car.
Looking Northwest
All in all it had been a fantastic afternoon made all the more so because it was unexpected. The weather that had been so bad while we drank coffee and ate cake in Strontian and changed so dramatically and completely that it was hard to believe we were still on the same day. The journey back was uneventful apart from seeing one or two deer and the occasional “big bird” that could have been eagles but were probably buzzards. We stopped again just before Strontian to photograph the cottage from the north bank of the loch then it was home for a well earned meal.
Sunart House from the north bank of the loch.
More Photos


  1. Enjoyed that. It's a beautiful part of Scotland.
    Cheers, Alen McF

    1. Thanks Alen. Yes it's a beautiful place made all the more so by the weather. At this point we could hardly believe our luck.......J