It’s Saturday and the day we head North for our week in Morar on the west coast. We’ve rented a house in Morar, which is a wee village about three miles South of Mallaig, a bustling ferry port and the last stop on The Road To The Isles.
Morar has possibly three claims to fame. One being its Silver Sands and the others being Loch Morar and the River Morar…
- The Silver Sands of Morar is a beautiful stretch of pure white sandy beaches on the sides of the mouth of the River Morar. These unspoilt sandy beaches run South all the way around the coast to Arisaig and we’ve spent many a day over the years, sunning ourselves on them or scouring the sand looking for shells.
- Loch Morar is the deepest body of fresh water in the United Kingdom and reputedly the home of Morag, a cousin of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. It’s almost 12 miles long and over 1,000 feet deep.
- The River Morar is the shortest river in the United Kingdom. From the loch out to the end of the estuary is only about 2½ miles and, if ou're measuring it from the loch to the start of the estuary, it's only about a ¼ of a mile long.
We left trying to get somewhere to stay too late. We really fancied somewhere around Arisaig but all of the accommodation there was unavailable and there was only the one place left, Tioram in Morar. The house is just on the outskirts of the village, on the start of the road down to Loch Morar. It sits on a slightly raised position with a good view along the loch with its little tree-covered islands. Looking West, we could see all the way out to the island of Rùm.
It’s an odd choice a name for a house as it means “dry” in Gaelic. Maybe it’s a reflection of the hospitality provided and is probably why it was the last place left available. They didn’t supply towels and we had to pay extra for the electricity via a coin meter. On top of that, the master bedroom with it’s en-suite bathroom was locked off so no tourists were getting to use that. We had to make do with the lumpiest and most uncomfortable bed I think I’ve ever slept in.
The description of the place mentioned a drop-off at the end of the garden, which could be dangerous for children but there was no garden, only a dense growth of bracken and you’d have needed a machete to hack through that to even find the drop off point.
On the upside, there was a nut feeder hanging just outside the patio doors and there was a constant stream of greenfinches, tits and sparrows visiting it for a snack. We also got a few visits from deer, nosing their way almost up to the doors and, yes, we did keep the gates closed so they must have been getting in some other way.
The downsides of the accommodation apart, I think Morar was probably a better choice of location, as it’s more central to the area, but I wouldn’t recommend Tioram unless, like us, you’ve left it too late to get anywhere else.
There are lots of documented walks in the area of Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig with a few more out by Lochailort and Glenfinnan. The first thing you’ll need is Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 40, which covers the whole area and you’ll get lost without it. After that is some decent waterproof boots and clothing. If you’re going off-path or out in misty or rainy weather, then take a compass as well.
I downloaded and printed off a selection of walking guides before we came so these proved really useful. If you’re planning on visiting the area for some walking, then check out these links…
- Sub3000 - Covers walks on those hills that don't quite make into Munro status. There's even a section on Morar.
- Hillwalking Scotland - Has some good walk guides for Munros and low level walks.
- Walks Around Mallaig - An excellent PDF document covering walks around Malliag, Morar and Arisaig.
- Walks In The Arisaig Area - A useful guide to walks around Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig.
- Glenancross Farmhouse - A list of PDF walking guides for a range of walks around the area.
We brought most of our food up with us but if you fancy eating out for a change, then there’s the Morar Hotel and a carry out Thai food place in Morar itself. A little further afield and you’ll find places to eat in Mallaig and Arisaig. You will need to book ahead though as they get pretty busy.
We did dine out once at the Old Library restaurant in Arisaig and really enjoyed it. It's a wee bit on the pricey side but almost everywhere in the area is. That said, the food was excellent and the service quick and friendly.
One place to avoid if you're short of time or have a fear of crowds is Tyndrum. We stopped in on the road up for lunch and were shocked at just how much it now resembles an over-developed motorway service station. The place was chock-a-block with tourists, cars, campers, howling kids, etc. We had to queue to park and then queued again for almost 20 minutes before getting to the counter. Mind you the food was actually quite good when it finally arrived but I don't think I'd want to repeat the experience.