Distanced Days Out in Arisaig
Who’d have thought that in 2020 we’d find ourselves living in a world where socially distanced days out were no longer the reserve of teenagers desperately attempting not to be seen with their uncool parents! These days, if you choose to leave the corona-free confines of your own home, social distancing and distanced days out are everybody’s reality, and for those of you hoping to visit Arisaig this summer, the village and surrounding areas are no exception.
That said, here in Arisaig we count ourselves incredibly lucky to have so many uncrowded beaches, glens and mountains just a hop, skip and a jump away from the village, so keeping our distance on a day out isn’t actually all that testing, in fact, some might argue that it’s pretty much the norm!
On 15th July, visitors will be warmly welcomed back into the area and Team Arisaig Hotel are really looking forward to catching up with customers, old and new. If you’re planning on staying, eating or drinking with us over the coming months, you can rest assured that we are going the extra mile to ensure that coronavirus is kept at bay. You can check out the procedures and measures we've put in place to keep you safe right here.
So, with the hotel (hopefully) safe from the clutches of covid, we thought we would shine the spotlight on some minimum risk/maximum enjoyment distanced days out if you're planning to visit the Arisaig area this season.
Arisaig is jam-packed with great walking routes, open-water swimming spots and mountain climbing opportunities where social distancing is easy peesy, but there are also a number of great things to do where you can enjoy a safe and socially distanced day out in and around Arisaig. Here's some of our favourites:
Boat Trips aboard the MV Sheerwater
Every year, from April – September, the trusty Sheerwater ferries thousands of visitors and islanders to and from Arisaig; however, the current situation has meant that the Sheerwater has remained at anchor. That is, until Friday 10th July, when Skipper Ronnie will dust off his captain’s hat and hit the high seas once again!
During the month of July, the islands of Eigg, Muck and Rum will not be accepting day visitors (this restriction will be reviewed again in August), but in the meantime, Ronnie’s usual passage to and from the Small Isles will be replaced by boat trips that will cover the area between Loch nan Uamh and along the coast up to Morar. These cruises will take in the incredible scenery and wildlife the Arisaig coastline has to offer and although wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed, if there are any creatures of the deep in the area, Ronnie will be sure to follow them!
Sheerwater boat trips will depart from Arisaig Marine at 10am and 2.30pm every Tuesday and Friday from 10th July. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, and while social distancing remains at 2m, passenger numbers are currently limited to fifteen; therefore, we would highly recommend booking your trip as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Tickets, along with any pre-ordered snacks, sandwiches and sweet treats, can be picked up and paid for at a designated outdoor point at the Marina café.
All passengers must bring with them a face covering and gloves. (This is in the event of spotting wildlife where social distancing may not be possible). Face coverings are also required when using the indoor-seating area onboard the boat.
Trainspotting along the Road to the Isles
From the 15th July – 23rd October, the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train will be back in business chugging its way along the glorious route between Fort William and Mallaig. While the steam train team will undoubtedly have significant safety protocol onboard to keep passengers safe, if you’re at all concerned about using public transport, we’re about to let you in on a little secret! Yes, it's an amazing experience to board the Jacobite Steam Train, but we reckon the sight and sound of the engine as it chugs its way over SIX viaducts and carves through some of Scotland's most majestic scenery, is even more impressive! Therefore, why not take a picnic and find yourself a secluded spot along the route and watch the train steam by instead? You could even take a socially distanced pew at Arisaig Railway Station meaning you can go on to boast about the time you stood on the platform of the most westerly train station in Britain!
Walk in the Footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie
The Steam Train isn’t the only Jacobite in town! The original Jacobite and “Young Pretender”, or more officially, Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart (bit of a mouthful!) arrived (25th July 1745) and fled (20th September 1746) from the beautiful banks of Loch nan Uamh near Arisaig, and we highly recommend taking the time to follow in his footsteps.
Why not take the short drive to Glenfinnan and check out the Glenfinnan Monument, which is situated in a breath-taking location at the head of Loch Shiel? A lone, kilted Highlander stands poignantly at the top of the 18m monument, which was erected in 1815 to commemorate the clansmen who gave their lives to the Jacobite cause.
On the way back to Arisaig, be sure to stop off at the Prince’s Cairn, which stands on the shore of Loch nan Uamh and marks the very spot Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived and fled from Scotland. The Cairn is well signposted from the A830 with parking available in a large nearby layby.
Driving on for a couple of miles, be sure to stop at Druimindarroch and take this beautiful walk, which will bring you to the cave at Borrodale beach where Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge before two French boats dropped anchor on the loch and shipped him back to France. He never returned to Scotland.
Take a Ride along the Silver Sands of Morar
Silversands Trekking Centre and their trusty steeds will be ready to take out trekkers when they re-open on 15th July, so why not saddle up and go for a socially distanced trek along some of the area’s glorious beaches? With one and two hour treks heading out every day, both beginners and experienced riders are welcome. Please check out their website for availability and booking.
From 20th July, Stuart, Ben and the team at Rockhopper will be available to take out half or full day kayaking adventures every morning, with overnight camping trips to some of the area's best kept secret spots, available at the weekends. Departing from the hotel car park every morning, both beginners and experienced kayakers can join Rockhopper on their adventures at sea.
The area around Arisaig is rich in wildlife and there's every chance you will encounter seals, otters, basking sharks and a huge variety of coastal birds. So, whether you're new to water sports or experienced in sea kayaking, Rockhopper will provide an unforgettable sociallly distanced experience. Families, groups and individuals are all welcome (children must be over the age of five).
Get into the Swing of Things
Frequently described as having one of the best views of any golf course in the UK, Traigh Golf Course will be open to non-members from Friday 3rd July. Although the clubhouse will remain closed, customers can pay in the honesty box outside the clubhouse and guidance for use of the course during Covid-19 restrictions will be posted on the gates and in the clubhouse windows.
Did you know that at a depth of over 1,000ft, Loch Morar is the deepest body of water in the UK? Interestingly, the loch flows directly into the River Morar, which is the shortest river in the UK! With all that water flowing, there's no wonder so many fish (plus Morag Monster) call Loch Morar home so why not spend a day attempting to catch one?
Although Loch Morar boat hire will not be open this season, permits for fishing from the bank are available from Loch Morar Fishing so get in touch with Viv if you'd like a permit. The prices are £6 for adults and £3 for concessions. Exact change is required and no rods will be available for hire, so be sure to pack yours if you're coming up!
Did you know that Arisaig is home to an enchanting secret garden hidden from passersby beneath a dense canopy of rare and majestic trees? Planted by John Augustus Holms in 1927, Larachmhor Gardens is a 28 acre woodland marvel and home to a fine collection of Rhododendrons, as well as exotic trees and shrubs. The colours, scents and sights will delight anybody who ventures down into Larachmhor Gardens and we highly recommend spending some time discovering this incredible space.