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Issue 52 - Hidden sands

Scotland Magazine Issue 52
August 2010


This article is 8 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Hidden sands

Keith Fergus discovers Camusdarach Beach.

The Silver Sands of Morar may well be the instinctive beach location for the majority of people travelling along The Road to the Isles between Fort William and Mallaig, but only a couple of miles south, and slightly off the well trodden path, sits the serene, undisturbed beauty of Camusdarach beach. Sand dunes keep the beach somewhat hidden from passing motorists, but, from a small car park just off the A830, a short, simple walk through the dunes leads to the beach.

This idyllic location has had many admirers over the years including the makers of the quintessential Scottish movie Local Hero and the popular television series Hamish Macbeth with Camusdarach being used to great effect in both productions.

Camusdarach is sometimes also known as Ben’s Beach after the character of Ben Knox, played by the late, great Fulton MacKay, in Local Hero, who refused to sell the beach he owned to make way for an oil refinery.

Camusdarach translates from Gaelic as the bay of the oak and there are several woods nearby containing a fantastic array of indigenous trees such as oak, birch and hazel, home to a variety of wildlife, and from where a number of walks of assorted lengths can be enjoyed. However, Camusdarach is really a place to forget about the stresses of modern life, to sit back and simply enjoy this dazzling corner of Scotland. The beach itself takes the form of a stunning arc of brilliant, white sand with the intense, blue waters of the Sound of Sleat drawing the eye towards the horizon where sits the conspicuous, flat-topped crest of Eigg, the glorious, jagged contours of Rum, and beyond the renowned outline of Skye’s Red Cuillin mountains. And this being Scotland’s celebrated west coast the sunsets can be absolutely breathtaking.

Because of the location Camusdarach is also an extremely popular setting for marriages. I remember a few years ago on my first visit I was happily taking photographs of the surrounding landscape all the while completely unaware that a wedding party was approaching in my direction until I heard the inimitable sound of the bagpipes. I watched as the couple took their vows under a cobalt blue sky and warm sunshine and thought to myself that a better location would be hard to find.

Unless, of course, the rain lashed the shore and a gale force wind lifted any unguarded kilt and my opinion may have changed . But whether you are getting married in Cambuslang or Camusdarach, you are at the mercy of the Scottish weather and Camusdarach would be hard to beat.

Camusdarach has something for all, whether this be walking, exploring, bird watching, or taking photographs of the wonderful views. Inspiration is never far away. Kids will find the beach perfect with the wonderful, soft sand ideal for running about on, a myriad of rock pools with an abundance of small creatures waiting to be explored.

Swimming in the crystal clear sea is not as far fetched as it may seem – the water, although not tropical, is not as cold as you may think.

Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig are all only a short distance away with a variety of shops, pubs and restaurants, and nearby is Traigh Golf Course, a beautifully kept, nine hole course which must surely be one of the most scenically blessed courses in the world.