Walking Adventures Within Easy Reach of Arisaig
Even on a bad weather day, a brisk walk amidst the heather and glens of the West Highlands is always a really great idea! Add to that a tasty post-walk refuel and you’ve pretty much got yourself the perfect day out. There are lots of great walks and places to eat right here in Arisaig, but for those looking to explore further afield, this blog is for you. We’ve compiled a few of our favourite walking day trips, combining incredible scenery, interesting facts, a brilliant walk and an even better lunch!
So, without further ado, here’s five stroll and scoff days out within easy reach of Arisaig.
Steall Falls, Glen Nevis
Car journey: 60 minutes
Walk: 60 – 90 minutes (moderate)
Lunch: The Highland Cinema
If you’re into movies, magic & marvellous views, this day trip should definitely feature on your itinerary!
Just before reaching Fort William, take a left at the roundabout (signposted Glen Nevis) and enjoy the twists and turns of one of Scotland’s most dramatic and iconic glens. Not only was Glen Nevis the location for blockbusters such as Highlander, Braveheart, Rob Roy & Harry Potter, it’s also home to the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, and Scotland’s second-highest waterfall, Steall Falls.
At the end of the Glen Nevis road, a decent sized car park allows for easy parking, where walkers can pull on their walking boots and head out along the rocky riverside path that leads to Steall Falls. Within 30 minutes the path opens up into a field where you will see (and hear!) the spectacular waterfall for the first time. The incredible waterfall features in the Harry Potter films (The Goblet of Fire & The Half-Blood Prince), but in order to fully embrace the sight and roar of the 120m drop, you have to cross the notorious Steall Falls Wire Bridge! Return via the same route.
Fancy some lunch?
If you make it back over the wire bridge in one piece, you’ll certainly deserve a good lunch, and with movies on your mind, you might want to check out the Highland Cinema in Fort William. Now, you’d be forgiven if your mind drifts to hotdogs, popcorn and dark and uninspiring décor; but the Highland Cinema is a completely different beast. Our “local” cinema might be located 30 miles away from Arisaig, but it’s SO worth the drive! Not only does this independent, boutique cinema show all the latest blockbusters and classics, the licenced café / restaurant serves up absolutely delicious wood-fired pizzas, salads and tapas in light, airy and mega-stylish surroundings.
The Silver Walk, Dorlin
Car journey: 40 minutes
Walk: 3 hours (moderate to difficult)
Lunch: Café Tioram
With otter spotting opportunities, ancient pine forests and a medieval castle to be discovered, the Silver Walk is not to be missed (although we would recommend that you do miss this one out after a particularly wet spell!).
Branching right at the Lochailort junction, enjoy the changing view of the Small Isles as you drift your way along the glorious A861 through the hamlets of Roshven, Glenuig and Kinlochmoidart. After approximately half an hour, turn right (signposted Dorlin and Castle Tioram) and head down the wiggly lane until you reach the car park at the road’s end.
Before you set off along the Silver Walk, we highly recommend exploring the moody 13th Century Clanranald Fortress, Castle Tioram. Although the entrance is now locked, it’s still well worth clambering up the granite mound to feel the history and take in the epic view where Loch Moidart meets the River Shiel. Over the centuries, there have been many a myth and legend connected with the castle and one of the most disturbing tales from Tioram (and the one that lends the Silver Walk its name), is that of a girl known only as James's daughter. The girl was accused of stealing silver from the Castle and hiding it along the walking route. As punishment, she was taken to the rocks at the north of the castle where she was tied by her hair and left to drown in the rising tide!
Putting aside the terrible tales of Tioram, the Silver Walk is incredibly beautiful and well worth exploring, although don't become too distracted as there are sheer drops along the uneven and undulating track. You can find walking directions on the map at the beginning of the route, just passed Dorlin Cottage.
Fancy some lunch?
After all that history and hiking, you’ll have earned your scran, and the great gals over at Café Tioram never disappoint with their locally sourced, seasonal and delicious menu. From Dorlin, head into the pretty village of Acharacle where you’ll see Café Tioram on the right. With lots of parking, super-friendly staff, excellent food and a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating, the café is very popular all year round. The menu is simple, but expertly put together and the team really go the extra mile for those with specific dietary requirements. Highlights include their gluten-free courgette bread and tasty vegan breakfast.
The Quiraing, Isle of Skye
Ferry / Car journey: 2 hours
Walk: 2 hours (moderate)
Lunch: Relish in Portree
With the Caledonian MacBrayne car ferry frequently departing neighbouring Mallaig from March – October, Arisaig is the perfect base for those wanting to take a day trip over the sea to Skye. The 25-minute crossing will get you to beautiful Armadale (Armadale Castle and woodland walk is a beautiful alternative if you’re short on time). Here you will begin the 90-minute drive to the north of the island. This road-trip offers incredible scenery along the way and you’ll be treated to sights such as the awe-inspiring Cuillin Mountains, picture-perfect Portree (see below for a lunch suggestion), the Old Man of Storr and Lealt Falls before finally getting to the utterly spectacular Quiraing.
The Quiraing was formed at the end of the ice age, leaving in its wake possibly the most romantic, dramatic and mystical landscape in the whole of the UK and this walk takes it all in! Setting off from the large car park on the Uig / Staffin road,this walking route is a circular and directions can be found right here.
Fancy some lunch?
With such a crazy beautiful walk, it would be a tragedy not to enjoy a picnic at one of the many beautiful locations along the route. We recommend stopping at Relish in Portree and picking up one of their imaginative deli or seafood sandwiches, homemade savoury pies (and definitely one of their summertime spectacular strawberry tarts!). This small but perfectly formed takeaway, offers innumerable picnic options, service with a smile from the lovely owner and easy access as it is located right on the road to the Quiraing.
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan
Car journey: 30 minutes
Walk: 45 minutes (easy)
Lunch: Glenfinnan House Hotel
Featuring in almost every Scottish tour guide, on the side of £10 notes (and even an Irn Bru advert!), Glenfinnan is one of the most iconic locations in Scotland and as luck would have it, it’s just a short 30 minute drive from Arisaig. With its 18m Jacobite monument, a ginormous viaduct, an NTS visitor centre and a railway museum, Glenfinnan really packs a punch for such a tiny village. In recent years, Glenfinnan has become a beacon for Harry Potter fans after the viaduct appeared in not one, not two, but three of the Harry Potter films! So, we thought we would celebrate this fact and focus on a short and child-friendly circular where you will be treated to the sight and sound of the Jacobite Steam Train (or Hogwarts Express) as it chugs its way over the viaduct.
Timing is everything with this walk! Even for locals, the sight of the train on the viaduct never gets old, so be sure to be treading the heather when the train is scheduled to arrive in Glenfinnan at 10.45am, 1.15pm, 3.15pm & 5.50pm (timings are approximate).
Park in the designated car park just off the main road and follow the tarmac track to Corryhully by the banks of the River Finnan heading towards the viaduct. At the wooden waymarker, head under the viaduct and through the gate before following the waymarked path until you reach the train station. From here, cross the A861 and take the little lane down to Glenfinnan House Hotel, Loch Shiel and the pier.
Fancy some lunch?
Situated directly on the walking route, Glenfinnan House Hotel sits on the shores of Loch Shiel and offers brilliant views over the Glenfinnan Monument and all the way to Ben Nevis. You would be forgiven for thinking that this grand pile was a residents only affair, but walkers are very warmly welcomed to enjoy a truly delicious refuel, and we highly recommend that you do!
Steeped in history, Glenfinnan House Hotel was originally built in 1755 for a veteran of the battle of Culloden and whether you choose to sit in the bar or the dining room, the historic atmosphere can be felt everywhere. The staff are very attentive, and the quality of food is superb. A particular favourite of ours is the homemade venison sausages and mash. Delicious!
Glencoe Lochan, Glencoe
Car journey: 75 minutes
Walk: 1 hour (easy to moderate)
Lunch: Crafts & Things
The majority of visitors to Arisaig will enjoy the incredible drive through Glencoe en-route to the village; however, we really do recommend going back for a good walk while you’re here in the Highlands. Glencoe is one of Scotland’s most ancient landscapes. Ridiculously romantic, rugged and dramatic, it was formed from the remnants of volcanic caldera more than 450 million years ago and while the glen’s history is chequered with tales of spooky mists, massacres and misery, Glencoe is also home to some of the best walks in Scotland. If you’re not into scrambling up mountains, the Glencoe Lochan circular is a really great choice.
Turning off the A82 when you reach the village of Glencoe, drive through the village and over the bridge where you’ll see the entrance of a driveway which leads to the car park. Once booted up, walkers get the choice of three wooded waymarked walks, but we reckon it’s worth spending an hour or so doing all three as they join up to form one spectacular adventure taking in lochan, mountain and ancient woodland views.
Fancy some lunch?
We always make a point of stopping at Crafts & Things when driving through Glencoe. This super-cute café and giftshop affords brilliant views over Loch Leven and has been a Glencoe institution for decades. The service, coffee, home baking and light lunches are all really great quality, and if you’re looking for a dog-friendly destination, there’s even a great covered outdoor seating area with water bowls.