This section covers three districts to the west of Fort William: Lochaber around the head of Lochs Ail and Shiel, Moidart between Loch Shiel and the road/railway to Mallaig, Morar just to the north and bounded by Loch Nevis. This is a large and essentially remote region that does not attract very many visitors to the hills. This is largely due to the lack of Munros - the exceptions being the Glenfinnan Horseshoe as a round of the highest callibre taking in two on the list, whilst Gulvain (or Gaor Bheinn) lies slightly to the east well hidden behind a long approach. As always there are many other mountains of lesser status that are fully worthy of exploration - notably Streap opposite it's taller neighbour of Sgurr Thuilm. There are also several valleys and long established paths that cross the regions and make excellant walks without taking in major climbs and tops.
All three regions are very remote and essentially trackless on the high ridges and tops. We have spent several days in the area and we were essentially on our own all day - the only exception being the more popular area around Glenfinnan. Access is straightforward either along the main road from Corpach and Loch Eil to Arisaig and Mallaig - or the famous railway that follows the same route. The railway is a major asset as it opens the region to those without a car, and also offers the option of closing day walks or even major treks across the district. A spur to the road heads south from Lochailort to circle the west or coastal side of Moidart heading for Strontian on Loch Sunart far to the south.
Loch Shiel has a forest track along the entire east side, offering a cycle (or walk) link between Glenfinnan and Stontian. After that is very much down to foot work with several tracks cutting across the district.
Starting to the east in Lochaber, three valleys run north in close proximity all of which are afforested and at least in part offer a vehicle track which can be cycled to save a few kilometres of walking.
|Gleann Fionlighe||Access to the munro Gulvain (or Gaor Bheinn).|
|Gleann Dubh Lighe||Access to Streap, an excellant valley walk and bothy.|
|Glen Finnan||A long tramacadam drive to Corryhully (a bothy with electricity), the Glenfinnan Horseshoe and a major walking route through to Strathan on Loch Arkaig.|
Morar is a square shaped area north of the road and running west from Glen Finnan. The region is split in two by Loch Morar - making routes across to the shores on Loch Nevis impossible. A ferry does serve Tarbet on the shore of Loch Nevis but the only viable approach to this point is a day walk along the north shore of Loch Morar from the village of Morar. One path does loop through the south west corner from the railway stations at Beasdale and Arisaig. Access on foot to the north east corner is reached along Glen Dessary from Strathan, or over Gleann Meadail from Inverie (ferry). Sourlies bothy is found at the head of Loch Nevis and the adjacent flat field offers an excellant camping site. A canoe along Loch Morar from the west is another option to gain the heart of the region I suppose.
Moidart lies to the south of Morar and is even more remote as the long and very deep Loch Shiel cuts off the entire south west boundary of the district. The only access to the centre without tackling high and pathless ridges is along Glen Moidart on the west coastline - and this is a very long way round by road. This is an area we have not explored, the region being too far out from our usual bases.
Accommodation in the wild part of the district is limited with hotels (and bars) at Glenfinnan and Lochailort. Further west the sandy beaches are a popular attraction and several caravan and camping parks, and other hotels and accommodation, can be found between Arisaig and Mallaig on the extreme north west of the region. The passenger ferry from Maillaig to Inverie and Tarbet has already been mentioned, other ferries from this fishing port serve the minor islands of Rhum, Eigg and Canna, as well as a crossing to Armadale on Skye.
A major visitor attraction is Glenfinnan with it's legendary view down Loch Shiel, the monument to the 1745 Rising and associated history of Prince Charles Edward, and the famous railway viaduct round the head of the valley. The National Trust runs a visitor centre here and the railway station is a museum dedicated to the railway - and also offers a cafe. During the summer Steam Specials run along the line and these are always popular - busy and comparatively expensive. The main public service is operated by Sprinter vehicles and whilst not as nostalgic, the fares are significantly cheaper and the views are just the same. This ride is a must for all at some time - don't miss out on it. There are some four trains a day in each direction and a one way trip and walk back to some mid point station gives access to one of the best treking routes in the Scottish Highlands.