Nestled into the shores of Loch Sunart, a long finger shaped sea loch in the Highlands of Scotland, lies the tranquil and calm village of Strontian, a quiet and close knit community settlement surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes filled with wildlife, relatively close to Fort William and Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest mountain.
I am fortunate enough to spend about a week a year in the village (and more if I can), and have just returned to London from a short but well needed Christmas break away from the buzz and stresses of city life. The Highlands of Scotland are a perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy the relative isolation of the world.
On Christmas Day, after a lazy morning and a wee bit of indecision about plans, I joined the rest of my family for a quick couple of hours stroll looping around the village. Here are a few of the photos of the walk.
Leaving my parents house, and turning right to take the road into the village centre, you have to walk with a view down the loch to your left, which is obviously a real hardship. Loch Sunart is tidal, so the above picture is taken at a relatively high tide, but is almost perfectly still, the reflections of the hills beyond mirrored in the water.
Strontian surrounds the mouth of the Strontian Rover, which flows into Sunart after passing through the village. The building with smoke rising from the chimney is the excellent hotel, the Kilcamb Lodge.
Just after crossing the stone bridge across the river, the road veers left and away along the side of the loch, off down towards the rest of the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula, ending at the most westerly point of the UK mainland and famed for it’s history, carved by ancient volcanic activity. My favourite trip down to the end of the road, baring in mind it’s 50 miles away, its a single track road leading to a beach at a remote hamlet of Sanna, where you drive through the remains of an ancient volcanic structures. Straight ahead is the entry to a small wooded trail through ancient woodland, managed by the Foresty Commisson Scotland. The path gains height quickly, taking you up and over a small hill, through toppled trees and out into open heathland beyond.
The woods around Strontian are some of the best examples of ancient Atlantic oakwood, among many diverse specifies of flora and fauna – the area is home to deer, red squirrels, eagles martins, and otters.
The woods abruptly end after a pleasant 20/30 minute stroll, before emerging into the open landscape, turning right after crossing the heather filled moorland to join a track that contours the lower slopes that adjoin Beinn Resipol, an 800 plus metres Corbett peak a couple of small valleys away.
From the track, we could see Sgurr Dhomhnuill in the distance, its snow capped white peak tantalisingly and invitingly close but out of reach for today, following our late start and Christmas meal awaiting at home.
We followed the track straight ahead, passing a few small cottages, part of the extension of the settlements of Scotstown and Acharacle, that are themselves extensions of Strontian. I’ve been going to the area for over ten years now, and I’m still not sure where one town starts and the other begins. We reached the tarmac road that leaves Strontian, that heads up and over a hill before dropping towards Pollach and Loch Sheil – the other end of the loch made famous by its appearance in the Harry Potter movies (and it’s Jacobite history). It’s the loch you see in the background of the scenes filmed at Glenfinnian Viaduct, featuring a flying car.
We joined the track from the road in Ariundle, entering the trail to pass pine forests and across another bridge back over the river to join a path known as the Fairies Road, know locally due to the translation of Strontian in Gaelic to Sròn an t-Sìtheinand – ‘The Point of the Fairy Hill.’ We took this two mile path to head back to Strontian, along the river bank and back and our awaiting Christmas dinner – pausing to raise a glass to my love of the area.