Arisaig Scotland


Arisaig area map

Arisaig village

Arisaig Bay

The village of Arisaig (the Safe Place) is centred on the sheltered shore of Loch nan Ceall (Loch of the Cells) on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, nestled at the base of rocky Creag Mhor, the Sgurr an t’Sasunnaich (peak of the Englishman) and the Sgurr an Albanaich (peak of the Scotsman). It spreads west along the Rhu road and north along the shore towards Morar.

Steam Train on the West Highland Line at Arisaig

Following the A830 from Fort William takes you through Glenfinnan and Lochailort and on to Arisaig - 36mls. in all. Recent improvements to the road – not so long ago mainly single track - has made the journey quicker and more relaxing.

Arisaig can also be reached by train as the village is on the West Highland Line which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig. In summer the “Jacobite” steam engine pulls a special passenger train from Fort William to Mallaig daily.

Eigg and Rum from Ach na skia Croft

The  village then meanders up and over the hill, past the RC church and Primary School, and down to the shore again past the Cnoc na Faire hotel and to Ach na skia Croft and the scattered crofting community at Back of Keppoch and Moss of Keppoch.

Here the stunning views to the islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye begin and the beautiful sandy beaches that stretch along the old road towards Mallaig. A little way along this road you will find Traigh golf course.

Amenities:

Where to stay and
Where to eat

Arisaig has one hotel, the Arisaig Hotel, which is situated at the edge of the village; meals are served in the bar, the lounge bar and the dining room (dining room summer only). There is a playroom for children and a deck for catching the rays. Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre is based at the side of the hotel. Bike hire is also available from the hotel. Café Rhu , the Old Library Lodge restaurant with rooms, the cafe at Arisaig Marine all serve meals. There are plenty of self-catering possibilities, campsites and numerous B&Bs. There is a well-stocked Spar General Store which is open every day.

What to do:  
Land Sea and Islands Centre The Land, Sea and Islands Visitor Centre
The Land, Sea and Islands Visitor Centre, a community project, opened in July 1999 on the site of a derelict smiddy. The old forge has been renovated and forms a focal part of the display. The Centre houses an exhibition that celebrates the social and natural history of the area, old and new, with photographic displays and artefacts - crofting, fishing, church history and marine life, the SOE and the films made here - 'Local Hero' being one of the most famous - are amongst the contents. Local and island crafts and cards can be purchased, as well as books on natural and local history, and information is available for visitors on what to see and where to stay in the area. There is also a Gallery of local photographs and prints.

Events at The Astley Hall

The Astley Hall is an old traditional ceilidh hall, built in 1893. Renovated in 2000, it now has 21st century facilities, complete access and a hearing loop. There is a stage and the Hall can seat 118. A varied programme thoughout the year includes traditional music, classical, jazz, opera and drama. If you're here for a week or more you could even join in with the Zumba class on a Thursday evening!

Boat Cruises Dolphin

Boat cruises run from the harbour to the Small Isles with Arisaig Marine to the islands of Eigg, Muck or Rum on board MV Sheerwater and enjoy the varied wildlife and spectacular views.

The Sheerwater is skippered by Ronnie Dyer, who has a wealth of knowledge about the bird and sea life around the Arisaig area has earned a well-deserved reputation for finding whales! Sailing with Ronnie you are highly likely to have sightings of Minke Whales, Dolphins, Porpoise, Basking Sharks, Otters, Puffins, Shearwaters and more. Lucky visitors have also enjoyed some less frequent sightings of Killer Whales, Sea and Golden Eagles.

Arisaig Highland Games
The Arisaig Highland Games take place annually on the last Wednesday in July at Traigh Farm.

History:

St. Mary's Church, Arisaig

St. Mary's Church, Arisaig

In the 12th century, monks who settled at Arisaig called it An Garbh Chriochan (the Rough Bounds). Only in the early part of the 19th century was there a road to Arisaig suitable for a stage coach.

In 1746 Loch nan Ceall was the unlikely setting for a naval battle, when two French ships sent to help the Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden were caught by the Royal Navy in the loch. The French escaped after landing their gold, which was subsequently carried inland to Loch Arkaig, where it was allegedly hidden and subsequently lost.

Until the early part of the 19th century, the shores around Arisaig Bay were home to a thriving community. Then in 1801, in what became known as part of “The Highland Clearances”, over 1000 crofters were cleared off the land and shipped to Nova Scotia to make way for sheep.  Walking round the Rhu peninsular you can see the stones and turf walls which are all that remain of their homes.

John Silver was born in Arisaig on 2 January 1853.  As a young man he went to work on the construction of the lighthouse at Barrahead. The lighthouse designer was Thomas Stevenson, father of Robert Louis Stevenson. Silver met Robert Louis on a few occasions. Local legend has it that Robert Louis Stevenson took the name for his character in Treasure Island.

The imposing Roman Catholic church at Arisaig was built in 1874, and the clock in the church was installed to commemorate the famous Gaelic poet Alasdair MacMhaistir Alasdair (Alasdair MacDonald).

Activities:  
Walking

Walks

The local Countryside Ranger leads Guided Walks twice a week from April to September. View Ranger Guided Walks for this year here.  If you walk on your own be prepared for changeable conditions, especially at altitude and remember to wear supportive footwear, take warm clothing, plenty of food and hot and cold drinks, sun tan cream and midge repellant and/or hood if between May and September. For more information on walks in the area see here or visit WalkHighlands website.

Sea kayaking
sea kayaks

The Sound of Arisaig is one of the world's top destinations for sea-kayaking. Its countless islands and skerries offer a wealth of hidden places to explore and are also home to an abundance of marine wildlife including seals, otters, dolphins, porpoises and occasionally minke whales and basking sharks. Sea kayaks, Sit on Top kayaks and Canadian Canoes are available to hire from the Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre with Guided Trips and Courses also available.

Sailing
Arisaig Marine

Arisaig Marine provides the perfect sheltered base from which to explore the West Coast of Scotland. They have 60 professionally checked swinging moorings available to rent on anything from a nightly to a seasonal basis and also offer summer Moorings, winter storage, a 20-ton Roodberg boat trailer, a slipway, water and diesel. The pontoon landing at the harbour can be used for loading / unloading, and crew changes.

Golf
Traigh Golf Course

Traigh (pronounced 'try' and meaning 'beach' in Gaelic) Golf Course is a 9 hole course based on a line of grassy hills, with the springy turf of a true links course. It is a nine hole course, par 68, SSS 65. The sublety of the course rewards accurate shotmaking. Good players are made to work for their scores, and yet high handicappers are given every chance. In short, Traigh offers something for everyone.
Maintained to the highest standard, Traigh presents the golfer with all the traditional challenges of a classic seaside links.

Cycling
West Coast Cycle Hire
Quality multi-purpose mountain bikes are available for hire from West Coast Cycles - give them a call to book then collect bikes and kit from the Arisaig Hotel. E-mail or call (+44) 07769901823
Beaches
Camusdarach Beach

 

The most famous local beach, and undisputably lovely, is Camusdarach, with its dunes, stream, wide sandy arc and views to Eigg, Rum and Skye. The reason for its fame is the filming here of parts of Bill Forsyth's 1983 film "Local Hero" and the evocative Ben's Shack and church, which was actually a mock-up of the church at Polnish, near Lochailort.
A visit is a must, but don't miss the other lovely sandy beaches, following the shore north from Back of Keppoch to Morar, where you will find similar striking vistas of the isles. If you are interested in film locations you could also check out

 

Film locations
Film locations around Arisaig
If it's film locations that interest you, you will find that the beauty and remoteness of the area has attracted many film makers. In addition to "Local Hero", "Breaking the Waves", directed in 1996 by Lars von Trier, has scenes set on Traigh beach and in Mallaig. Scenes from "Hamish MacBeth" and "Monarch of the Glen" were also filmed around Camusdarach. Scotland: the Movie Location Guide provides information on more film locations in the wider area.
Winter in Arisaig Bay
Skye from the beach near Arisaig
More information about Scotland and things to do in the area. Scottish west coast holiday cottage Arisaig Ach na skia Croft http://www.achnaskiacroft.co.uk