Archie at Ratagan viewpoint

September Trip to Western Highlands

In late September both Ewelina and I took some time off and took a trip to Scotland. We concentrated on the Western Highlands region, an area I know fairly well. We had a rough itinerary but agreed that we would be flexible depending on how we felt and what the weather was doing. It was a break we both needed so we didn’t want to pack too much in.

Road to the Isles – Fort William to Mallaig

Archie is not one for a change to his routine. Since he would be unsettled we decided to visit some beaches early on in the trip to get him more settled. Archie loves a remote beach! The drive to Fort William had taken us up through some stunning scenery including Loch Lomond and Glencoe. After the left turn at Fort William signposted for Mallaig, we decided to stop at Glenfinnan Viaduct. As the photo below shows, the weather was being kind at the start of our trip.

Glenfinnan Monument
Glenfinnan Monument

We had arrived just in time to catch the famous steam train passing over the viaduct but were not in the best viewpoint for photographs so it will be one for another visit. It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the coast. According to many reviews the best beach in the area is Camusdarach beach and we certainly wouldn’t argue with that. There were a couple of other people around but we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Archie absolutely loved it.

Archie on Camusdarach Beach
Archie on Camusdarach Beach

Ratagan & Eilean Donan Castle

Once back in Fort William we visited the large Morrison’s supermarket for some supplies. We would be heading north next towards Eilean Donan castle. Our first stop on the way was a quick photo opportunity at the Spean Bridge Commando Memorial. Dedicated to the men of the British Commando Forces of World War II it was unveiled in 1952 by the Queen Mother.

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial
Spean Bridge Commando Memorial

We continued on the A82 until Invergarry, then turning left on the A87. Our next stop was Ratagan, the perfect chance for a quick hike to give Archie some exercise. I’ve always loved Ratagan, having stayed the hostel here a number of times. The views overlooking Loch Duich towards the Five Sisters of Kintail can be spectacular in the right light. The image at the very top of the article is of Archie taken on a path above Ratagan with the loch below. There are some great mountain walks in this area which are popular with munro baggers. These include The Five Sisters of Kintail (includes 3 munros) but also The South Glen Shiel Ridge (7 munros). Another popular mountain is called The Saddle (another munro) which includes a great scramble over the Forcan ridge.

View above Ratagan
Another view above Ratagan

With Archie exercised we could continue, stopping about 40 minutes later at Eilean Donan castle. Undoubtedly a photogenic location, the castle is not as old as you might think. Unfortunately it’s also a complete tourist hotspot and Ewelina and I much prefer peach and quiet. The prices in the shop are also a joke so we usually just stop for a quick photo before moving on.

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Normally we would continue on to the Isle of Skye but decided to turn back on this trip. We didn’t really have time to visit Skye. Also the last time we visited it had become far too busy for our liking. Instead we decided to head for the Glen Affric forest.

Glen Affric Forest

Our route to Glen Affric took us along Loch Ness. We didn’t stop as neither of us find it particularly photogenic. It’s also another tourist trap, there are far better places to visit in Scotland. Glen Affric contains one of Scotland’s largest remaining ancient Caledonian pinewoods. It’s also a pretty good location for autumn colours but alas late September is too early for that. The good weather we had enjoyed on the first couple of days of our trip started to abandon us. Our walk with Archie had to be timed to avoid some showers. The walk did allow us to visit Am Meallan viewpoint. It was not the best light but you could clearly imagine how scenic it could be in the right conditions.

Am Meallan Viewpoint
Am Meallan Viewpoint

The end of our mini adventure

Due to a couple of days rain we decided to cut our journey short and return home. The weather ironically improved the day we began to head south and so we planned to stop and spend some time at Loch Lomond. Unfortunately an accident between a coach and a logging truck on the A82 at the side of the Loch put paid to that. By the time the traffic started moving we had lost the last of the evening light. We both love the scenery in Scotland and no doubt we will try and visit again in 2019.


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