Whinburn provides an excellent comfortable base in central Fort William.
A circular walk starting in the village of Portuairk, up through the hills and along to beautiful beach at Bay MacNeil and back along single track road and woodland.
This is a lovely coastal walk through some fine stretches of heathland and upland grassland, with some stunning coastal views of Sanna Bay on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and over the sea to Small Isles. There are also a few optional detours on route. Take time to explore the lovely sandy bay at Bay MacNeil. You can also take a detour to Ardnamurchan Point, with its Lighthouse, Exhibition Centre and Cafe (seasonal). Ardnamurchan Point is great place to search for cetaceans, basking sharks and seabirds. The Exhibition centre also provides a wonderful insight into the life of Highland lighthouse keeper, as well as the geology and biodiversity of Ardnamurchan and beyond. A fabulous slow adventure!
1. Parking in Portuairk itself can be a little difficult though there is a little car park on the right hand side of the road just before the road zigzags down to the village. Once parked, follow the road down through the village along the coast, passing by the telephone box and notice board, and o to the turning area at the end. The footpath starts through the gate just to the left of the No Parking sign, and signposted to Bay MacNeil.
2. Head through the metal gate and follow the small footpath (which can get rather muddy) as it veers to the left and then uphill by the side of a house through the gully. At the old concrete water tank, follow the faint path to the right up into the low hills, with the village on your left. Keep right. The path soon become clearer and is marked by the occasional wooden post.
3. Follow the path skirting round the hill on the west - it is fairly well defined and marked with posts. At the third post, before you reach the fence line, turn right for an optional detour to the top of the hill to the west of the main path, marked by a series of cairns. Head towards You will be rewarded with some amazing views back over Portuairk and to The Small Isles and beyond. There are also some fine views of Ardnamurchan lighthouse, Bay McNeil and Sanna Bay. Return by the same route and continue towards the fencelike and join the main path that heads westwards though the valley back towards the sea passing a couple of old ruined houses/ shielings and leading to a style over the wire dear fence.
4. Cross the style and follow the path as signposted. The path follows the fence line and heads towards Ardnamurchan lighthouse. The path becomes more track-like and passes through a metal gate and along the back of a static caravan site behind Bay MacNeil. Make time to take the detour on the right through the dunes to Bay MacNeil, a wonderful sandy beach with some machair behind.
5. Continue on the track along the back of the caravan site and head uphill to the left as signposted following the footpath signs to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. The path may be a little muddy here. The path passes through a small gate in the deer fence and along a short section of heathland heading to the single track road at Grigadale. Once at the road, turn right to take an optional detour to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and refreshments (in season) or turn left to continue on the circular walk back to Portuairk.
6. Follow the road back past Grigadale farmhouse towards Portuairk. You can either follow the road all the way back to Portuairk, passing by Grigadale farmhouse and lochan.
7. Alternatively, you can head up left alongside the hill just before reaching the B8007. Look out for the metal gate by a telegraph pole and passing place at NM444670 just before the road rises and before reaching the B8007. Follow the footpath over rough pasture along the fence line skirting round the hill by the side of some woodland (mainly birch and hazel) above. Follow the fence line along and over the brow of the hill, following the fence line. Head downhill towards a metal gate in the corner of the field. Once through the gate, head towards the road through another metal gate with wood fencing surround. At the road, turn left and head back down to the village and back to your staring point.
starting grid ref: