Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ardnamurchan - The Lighthouse And Bay MacNeill

Ardnamurchan LighthouseArdnamurchan Lighthouse

If you're in or around Ardnamurchan, then a visit out to the 36 metre high, pink granite lighthouse on Ardnamurchan Point is a must-do. The lighthouse was built in 1849 by engineer Alan Stevenson, the uncle of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, and it's the only lighthouse in the UK built in the Egyptian style. It's also commonly described as the most Westerly point on the British mainland but it's not quite. A wee hillock about a kilometre to the South called Corrachadh Mòr is the real most westerly point.

You can reach the lighthouse by means of the single-track road just beyond Achosnich and at one stage it's controlled by traffic lights due to a blind corner going round a cliff edge just before you reach the car park. For the more adventurous, there's a path leading over from Portuairk, past the sandy beach at Bay MacNeill and which joins the road near the lighthouse.

The Small IslesThe Small Isles

It's all automated now but it houses an exhibition called the Kingdom of Light and, for a fee, you can climb the spiral stairs to the top of the tower to get a view of the surrounding sea and landscape. Close-by, there's also a small tea room and shop which does a decent range of scones and cakes. The electricity supply was fluctuating badly on one of our visits and I think we were lucky to get a hot cup of tea at all; the place was on battery power and the traffic lights were out of action, which led to a few head-head confrontations on the narrow road.

There are good views out over the Small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rùm and we drove round there a few times. We even ended up down on the very small beach and scrabbling around looking for cowries; found a few too!

Bay MacNeillDozing On The Beach At Bay MacNeill

On a better day, we took the path from Portuairk up over the hill and got some really good views out over Ardnamurchan Point and out to the islands. We dropped down from there into the valley beside Sgurr nam Meann and followed the stream down to Bay MacNeill, a largish beach of white sand and rock. However, the weather was so nice, we ended up just staying on the beach with me running around with the camera and Lorna having a doze in the sun.

Ardnamurchan PointArdnamurchan Point

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