We have been feeling a bit run down lately, with cold season (hopefully) drawing to an end, and the last couple of weekends since our three day walk in the Cairngorms have been pretty quiet affairs including such mundane activities as feeding the grass and so on.
As we approached last weekend we were again in full cold mode (our son goes to nursery at the start of the week, so normally colds are fully brewed just before our weekends!) and we were expecting it to be a quiet weekend doing not a lot again. We decided pretty late in the week that we weren’t happy with that, and so decided on a last minute campervan weekend away to somewhere new. We looked at the maps and picked the area around Loch Shiel and Loch Sunart, a short distance to the west of Fort William.
We rapidly packed the van, hoping that we didn’t forget too many things before we set off on Friday evening. The great thing with the van is we have all the essentials packed anyway, so if we forget something it won’t be a disaster. We did most of the journey on the Friday evening through pouring rain, so we could wake up to a full day on Saturday, with the hope the weather might be a bit better.
On the Saturday we woke to pretty clear skies and sunshine which was much better than we had expected, and so decided a day at the beach was called for. We had heard about a beach called the Singing Sands near Kentra, which is supposed to ‘sing’ as you walk over it. Apparently this is because the sand grains are particularly spherical and within a certain size range.
We had looked at the potential walk and had it in our minds that is was a 6 km total distance, so not really too bad. It turned out we had km and miles mixed up though, (did we mention we had muzzy heads?!) so our ‘short walk’ ended up quite a bit further than we expected. The walk passes along a large estuary before entering some forestry. At the moment a portion of the forestry is shut off with a large fence because someone is filming a reality TV show, for Channel 4.
Eventually we came out at the beach and it is lovely. We wandered around, drew dinosaurs and paddled in the water – I can confirm that it is ‘nearly’ as tropical as it looks and you could ‘almost’ imagine going for a swim without needing a wetsuit! We did try quite a lot of funny walks trying to make the sand sing, but alas we only managed a groan or two (and I’m not sure if they were from the others on the beach or the sand to be honest).
The beach was also used during the Second World War by the SAS, so there are notices around warning you that if you find anything metal, not to touch it! They could be unexploded munitions.
After playing around and having lunch we slowly headed back, before moving on to Loch Sunart to find a place to spend the evening. Loch Sunart has ancient oak woods along its shores and has a rich history including charcoal production and Viking settlements as they prized the wood for their boats. We found a quiet place to have dinner and all slept well overnight before waking up to a rather rainier day than the Saturday.
We had a quick breakfast before setting off on a short walk to a wildlife hide, where we were treated with views of seals, heron, geese and assorted other birds. The hide was amazing as there was a telescope and binoculars there, along with wildlife guide books for you to use. The binoculars and books were not fixed to anything, so it is both lovely and a bit of a surprise that they were still there.
Anyway, after enjoying watching the wildlife we wandered back and continued on our slow way, heading towards the Corran narrows and a short ferry crossing back to the main roads on the other side.
We had hoped to get some good pictures of the ferry and hype it up with our son, but instead it was there waiting for us, so we drove on and then the ferry set off on its 5 minute crossing immediately. It was over before we knew what was happening, but was fun none-the-less!
We spent the rest of the day meandering back towards home, passing through Glen Coe and stopping off at Glen Etive as well as a couple of other places on our way. We got home all feeling relaxed and refreshed, despite our colds still being with us.
We were glad we had decided to go away and see some new places. Sometimes the drudgery of winter cold season can be a bit wearing, but it is true that occasionally all you really need is a change rather than a rest to feel refreshed and ready to go again.
Trip report for Singing Sands
- Location: Ardnamurchan
- Length: 6miles
- Level of difficulty: Big track which becomes a bit smaller after turning off to the beach with exposed tree roots.
- What to wear: Pack waterproofs, hats etc and sturdy shoes for exposed tree roots.
- Kid friendly: The paths are well maintained tracks, suitable for older kids (or younger ones if they want to stretch their legs for a while). A brilliant option if you’ve got a back carrier as well.
- Any tips: The car park is a small one at the end of the Arivegaig road, off the Kentra road, so getting there early would make sure you get a space. To get there, it is along single track road with passing places, so take care driving.
Any other info: Detailed route information can be found on the Walking Highlands website.