Episode 11: ‘Road to the Isles’ (Season 2)
Ready to hit the road? Let’s travel down the road from Fort William to Mallaig in the first episode of this season of Wild for Scotland!
‘Road to the Isles’ is a story about the drive from Fort William on the northern shores of Loch Linnhe to Mallaig, a port town from where ferries leave for Skye, the Small Isles and the Outer Hebrides.
The Road to the Isles is not exactly a hidden gem – it leads from Scotland’s tallest mountains to the sandy beaches of the west coast. But most people drive it way too fast on their way to the ferry. In this episode, we’ll take it slowly and explore what’s left and right of the road, the best places to stop and the stories they tell.
Only 42 miles- yet there is so much to do and see!
After the story, I share with you my top 5 tips to make your journey on the Road to the Isles extra special.
Are you ready? Great – let’s travel to Scotland!
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Written and hosted by Kathi Kamleitner.
Produced and edited by Fran Turauskis.
Cover Art illustrated by Lizzie Vaughan-Knight.
All original music composed by Bruce Wallace.
Additional sound effects from Zapsplat, Pond5 and SoundBoard.
All photographs by Kathi Kamleitner.
5 Travel Tips for the Road to the Isles
1) Stay in the area
If you follow my Best of Scotland itinerary you’ll find that I suggest spending a night in Fort William or nearby Glencoe, before driving down the Road to the Isles. On my most recent trip, I stayed at Lochview Guest House in Fort William, which is away from the busy main road and has stunning views of Loch Linnhe.
In Glencoe, I recommend staying at Scorrybreac Guest House which lies a little outside the main village, but still in easy walking distance, and just a stone’s throw away from Glencoe Lochan.
2) You won’t need a super early start
The morning service of the Jacobite Steam Train leaves Fort William just after 10, which means you get a lie-in. So, whether you want to catch the 10 am Bay Cruise or see the train cross over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you don’t have to rise particularly early.
3) Go on a boat ride with Crannog Cruise
There are many ways you can see the steam train, but to me, seeing from the boat on a Crannog Cruise was extra special. At Glenfinnan, there are usually loads of people and you might struggle getting a good photo spot without anyone else in the picture. I didn’t have that problem on the boat. In addition, the cruise was also just lovely to see local wildlife and see Ben Nevis rising above the town in the distance – that’s a view I won’t forget anytime soon!
4) Wear sturdy shoes to the beaches
It might feel like overkill to wear hiking boots to the beach, but I’m honestly so glad I did, because there is never just one beach. Whether you stop at Camusdarach beach or the Silver Sands, you’ll find that there is actually one sandy bay after the other. And to get to them, you often have to follow tiny paths across rocks and hills, patches of heather and slippery rock pools. It’s so much easier to do that in sturdy shoes. And if you want to dig your toes into the sand, just take them off for a while.
5) Beware the seagulls of Mallaig
Seagulls are heralds of the sea, at the best of times. Their screeching sounds indicate that the coast must be nearby and that can only be a good thing. But at worst, they are the stuff of nightmares. In Mallaig, seagulls are known to be quite vicious and hungry. So, if you decide to go through the rite of any Scottish road trip and treat yourself to a chippy by the harbour, prepare to defend yourself and your food. The seagulls of Mallaig love themselves some fried fish and potatoes and will not shy away from stealing food out of your hands.