Fort William boasts a bold claim of being the ‘Outdoors capital of the UK’ and it’s clear from my crammed weekend itinerary that I have a vast amount of action in store over the next two days.
Heading west out of Fort William towards Malaig (the road to the isles) the views and traffic increase and decrease in turn. This is a stunning drive and I hear myself muttering ‘wow’ around every bend in the road. The sunny route reminds me of Greek roads; rocky outcrops and pine trees perched among them.
Along the road I pass what appears to be, in the near-dusk, a large and apparently deserted old house. Inverailort House used to be the end of the road back in 1966; in those days there was simply a track to access the Moidart and Ardnamurchan peninsula.
This is where, during the Second World War, they trained Special Operations Soldiers (SOE) – one of which was a certain Ian Fleming. It’s fun to imagine this is the place he may have created James Bond.
With thoughts of James Bond and Scottish 007 Sean Connery and amusing myself with the unique way he pronounced ‘Pusshy Galore’ – I arrive in a watery sunset at the bay of Arisaig. A shortbread tin lid of a place, with stunning views across to the isles of Eigg and Rum in the distance.
The lights are bright from the Glenuig Inn and it’s a most welcoming sight after anexceptionally long day in the automotive saddle.
The next morning is an early start to take advantage of the high tide in the bay to launch our sea kayaks. Stuart from Rockhopper is guiding our group today, and before leaving the Glenuig he tells me to keep an eye out for otters along the rocky coastline.
After a thorough briefing we prepare our kit and launch the kayaks out across the bay heading west. I’m on the look out for an Otter, but since I’m not in the leading kayak maybe the earlier otter has scarpered.
We wiggle on toward our destination – a remote sandy beach on Moidart. Populated only by wild goats, the only way of reaching this remote place is by boat or on foot; some three hours’ hike from the nearest road.
Too soon it’s time to head back to Arisaig and on to the next part of our action-packed trip. We bid farewell and drive to the Nevis Range, some 15 miles east. Grabbing a packed lunch from the Nevis cafés, we hire some bikes and meet up with David Lund, our guide today.
We start with a quick skills loop before hurtling off through the forest trails on a mix of blue and red trails – graded like ski pistes, but to my limited MTB skill-set a tad harder!
The riding here is vast and the views of Ben Nevis are stunning. We ride under the high wire and zips lines and back to the base of the gondola and meet Nevis instructor Wendy.
Heading north to Invergarry, it’s time for an afternoon of white-water rafting. It’s a lively-looking river thanks to the recent rain and proof – if we needed more – that there’s so much adventure to be had here. Time seems meaningless; trouble is, I just don’t have enough of it. But I’ll be back…
What to do
Guided sea kayaking with Rockhopper Sea Kayaking
• £40 per boat per half day
• £75 per boat per full day
• £195 for a two-day overnight trip with food & camping equipment
Nevis Range Mountain Biking. Advance booking strongly recommended
• Instructor £75 for 2½hrs for 1 to 2 people,
• Bike Hire from Alpine Bikes
• MTB hire – £12 per half day, £20 per full day
• Downhill hire – £40 for single run, £70 per day (bike only)
WHITE WATER RAFTING:
Highland river activities
White-water rafting, canyoning and gorge walking
• River Awe, grade 2 & 3 £45 pp
• River Garry, grade 3 & 4, £50 pp
The possibilities for hiking and climbing in Scotland are enormous. Why not bag yourself one of the 283 Munros while you are there – if you have time!
Words and Photography: Tracey Radnall