Day 23 of the Great Scotland Camping Trip was a day of moderate travel but high rewards. The day started with a trip from Fort Augustus to Mallaig via Fort William. I really wanted to stay the night at the Invercaimbe campsite in the Back of Keppoch in Arisaig but it was the only campsite in the whole trip to refuse my backpacker self due to being full. I nevertheless walked a wee bit more to stay overnight at a croft to spend the most magical time beach-combing.
Why visit: Some of the best beaches in the country
I have to be honest, as soon as I pitched up, the rain forced me to be in tent for a couple of hours. But once the rain stopped in the dying dusk light, I got out of my tent and on to the beach to capture the magic that is Arisaig. Captured some photos of the campsite that wasn’t to be before focusing my attention on 2 things, a set of birds who came to fetch their dinner from the sand and the superb views towards the Isle of Eigg (part of the Small Isles that include Rum). It was just so magical. Highly recommend the croft if you are in the area and need a place to camp & sleep next to a beach (no showers though).
Mallaig & Isle of Rum
Why visit: To go to Skye by ferry, enjoy remote hikes / stays
The next morning (Day 24) started quite early as I wanted an early train to Mallaig to be able to catch an early ferry to the Small Isles (namely Rum). Mallaig is the perfect seaside town that one can imagine, very colourful & access to the best seafood at Andy Race Fish Merchants (which we visit everytime we’re in Mallaig, home to one of our top 9 speciality food items in Scotland). Booked myself a night at the local hostel, had a haggis roll & tea at the cafe downstairs and relaxed for a bit before heading to the pier (via the fish merchant to get some peat smoked salmon).
The ferry ride from Mallaig to Rum is short (1 hr 20 min) but spectacular. For most of it you can see the Skye-line ie the Cuillins mountain range on the southern coast of Skye on the right side. Interestingly, there were quite a few people who were just taking the ferry without getting off anywhere (and you can buy such a ticket). You get 4 hours on the island to explore, exactly enough time to see a nice waterfall and back 🙂
The last official population of the island is 22. Most of the island is populated by wildlife which is pretty awesome. The first building that you’ll see is the impressive Kinloch Castle built by a random rich Brit (like many other stately homes). After taking some pictures, I headed for the Kinloch Glen waterfall. The view from the trail gets wilder the more inland you go. It is hard to describe how disconnected from the world you feel in such a remote spot with no one around for as far as you can see. The waterfalls themselves were ok, quite narrow but powerful. The view of the valley all the way across to the ocean is a different story.
Made my way back to Mallaig and treated myself to a hot meal at the local seafood restaurant looking like a tramp, the Sole fish was pretty good. Saw a sad yet funny scene unfolding at the pier with a truck half submerged & half on a ship, not sure how what is even possible. Went back to my hostel to have a 2 hour long & friendly chat with a family from our old home of the US, well educated & loyal Trump supporters (well before the election). It was quite fascinating to hear their opinions, it was by far one of the most memorable conversations of the entire trip. Slept like a log quite early to catch the first train out to Arrochar the next day. Here is the jaw-dropping view from the Glenfinnan viaduct from Scotland’s prettiest rail journey.
Public Transport Logistics
- Fort Augustus to Arisaig campsites: You take the bus to Fort William and then change to another bus (500 by Shiel Buses) bound for Mallaig which goes through the coastal road. They drop you off in front of the campsites in true rural Scotland fashion. I left Fort Augustus by the 12:08 bus and changed to the 13:25 bus to Arisaig
- Arisaig campsites to Mallaig: I caught the 9:17 AM bus and asked them to drop me off the closest to the train station (80p fare). It is also possible to reach the station after a 40 minute walk (not recommended with backpacks). I was barely able to reach the platform in time.
- Mallaig to Isle of Rum daytrip: The trip described about is best done on a Wednesday and a shorter version is available only on a Friday. You can make up a different itinerary better suited to the small isles ferry schedule described here (different schedules for different days).
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