Ceithir Raithean offers comfortable, beautifully finished four star self-catering accommodation on the spectacular west coast, set amongst tranquil surroundings. Situated between Arisaig and Mallaig on the ‘Road to the Isles’, and only a five minute walk from Camusdarach Beach, Ceithir Raithean is an ideal base for exploring the breathtaking landscape of mountains, lochs, white sandy beaches and islands. Owner Vanessa Blower talked to us about her highlights of this stunning corner of the west coast as well as her company Western Isle Cruises, which offer sailings to Knoydart – known as ‘Europe’s Last Wilderness’.
What are your highlights of this coastal area?
For us it would have to be the rugged and wild coastline with it’s famous beaches from Arisaig, Traigh, the White Sands of Morar and our favourite Camusdarach Beach, featured in the film Local Hero and less than a five minute walk away. Many a time you can set out on a walk and have a beach all to yourself, which these days is amazing. The views from Camusdarach of the Isles of Eigg and Rum are very atmospheric and to see the sun setting over them is magical.
We love the fact that there is so much to see and do on the doorstep but if you want to explore further afield, Mallaig Harbour is a short drive away where you can get the CalMac ferry to Skye and the Small Isles.
Which three local ‘must-sees’ would you recommend to visitors?
The Glenfinnan Monument and Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel is a nice day out. The walk under the Viaduct is picturesque and unforgettable because of the Jacobite Steam Train and the Harry Potter films, and the monument itself is a short climb to where you will be treated to a spectacular view of Loch Shiel. There is also a visitor & exhibition centre. You stand a good chance of spotting Golden Eagles with Loch Shiel Cruises and you can finish the day with a great meal at Glenfinnan House Hotel.
A visit to Inverie on the Knoydart Peninsular, only accessible by boat or a 14 mile trek, to have lunch at the remotest pub in Britain ‘The Old Forge’ is a must do. There’s nothing like a seafood platter, sitting outside on a nice day with the boats bobbing about on their moorings, with Loch Nevis before you. Inverie is very pretty and boasts a few Munros of its own too. This is where you catch a glimpse of remote village life.
A nice drive out to visit the ruined Castle Tioram which sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram at the head of Loch Moidart, is a great way to take in the spectacular views Lochaber has to offer. At low tide, you can walk around the outside of the ruins but care should be taken.
What’s your favourite walk in the area?
That has to be the walk from Loch Morar, the deepest body of fresh water in Britain, to Tarbet, a must for all hill walkers. It has it all: mountainous views, restored ruins and remains of the Chapel of Inverbeg. There are stunning places to take a breather on pebble beaches and you may even spot a Sea Eagle or a Golden Eagle soaring high above. After approximately five and a half miles, you will drop down into Tarbet, once a busy fishing village but now home to just a few residents. If you don’t want to return on foot, you could sail back with Western Isle Cruises – we will pick you up at the jetty and return you to Mallaig, thoroughly refreshed with a nice hot cuppa and biscuit, or something a bit stronger from our well stocked bar.
Are there any lesser-known sights or hidden gems in the Lochaber area that visitors shouldn’t miss?
Kinloch Castle is well worth a visit on the small Isle of Rum, as most of the interior remains much as it was when the Bullough family last used used it. Furniture and items from all over the world can be seen during a guided tour.
A walk along the coastline of Rhu, Arisaig is pretty spectacular and you can often see seals from the shoreline resting on the rocks out in the bay or popping their heads up out of the water.
A visit to Ardnamurchan Point and Lighthouse is definitely worthwhile. The scenery here is very wild, rugged and remote and an added bonus to some is that most of the journey is a winding, single track road.
What would suggest visitors do or see in the Fort William area?
It has to be Nevis Range, although not just for skiing and snowboarding. It’s great to go up in the gondola, just to admire the views. The Snowgoose Restaurant and Bar has a great selection of local produce and on a clear day, it’s nice to sit out on the balcony and just soak up the scenery. With forest walks, cycling and The High Wire Adventure, it’s a great choice to keep the family entertained.
For shopping in Fort William, the Granite House is great for gifts, homeware, music and novelty items, and I always like to pop into The Highland Soap Company, again on the High Street, great for gifts or just treat yourself – it’s an olfactory sensation!
Any other tips?
Once when exploring Arisaig, I was wandering around the grounds of St Marys Church and came across the ruins of an old church. I was surprised at how pretty they were and at how much detail was left on some of the walls. Apparently it was once called St Maelrubha’s Chapel.
For more information on Western Isle Cruises, call 01687 462 233 or book at www.westernislescruises.co.uk.