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Monday, 23 July 2012

Holiday Adventures - Knoydart Peninsula, Scottish Highlands

Star rating 9/10

My walking holiday with Wilderness Scotland started with a thrilling sighting of a basking shark swimming around the small boat we took from Mallaig to our base at Doune. Knoydart is supposed to be the most inaccessible and remote part of the British Isles, and it is fair to say it is surpassing all my expectations so far.

It started with the incredibly scenic railway journey from Glasgow on the West Highland Railway. And as if the shark wasn't enough, in the morning there was a stag having a rest outside the kitchen window of my log cabin. It's certainly a far cry from sunny Manchester.

And no the weather has not been great - ironic as up until the day I arrived north west Scotland had been enjoying its best summer for years, firmly bucking the rest of the wet weather trend the rest of us have been enduring. But to be honest the beauty and drama of this place more than make up for a bit of wind and rain, and anyway the sun now seems to have returned.

Knoydart is not so much of an empty place as an emptied place, as its population was decimated by the land clearances to allow rich nineteenth century landowners to use it as their hunting and shooting personal playground.

And its lochs and mountains make perfect walking country - even for a softie like me. We have walked around the beautiful coastline around Airor, hiked in the dramatic Black Hills, and walked up (and down) Mam Barrisdale- made all the more wild with cascades of water forming mountain streams with the recent rain.

And the reward at the end of a great
days walking was a pint in the most remote pub on the British mainland - The Old Forge.

This is simply a magnificent part of Scotland, so remote you can only easily reach it by boat, which I am very glad about as it leaves me free to enjoy it. Perfect peace and dramatic beauty - what a holiday.

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