Arisaig House - Highland Hospitality at it's best on The Road to The Isles
A lovely walk to the small remote chapel of St Columba on the Morvern peninsula. The impressive cream rendered chapel with its attractive stonework and distinctive battlemented tower is perched on raised ground overlooking the Sound of Mull.
There are some lovely coastal views at the start of the walk and along some sections of the route. The route passes through a range of habitats, including alder carr, mixed deciduous woodland, hazel coppice, open grassland and wet meadow. There are some fine mature specimen trees of beech, oak, ash, sycamore, horse chestnut, lime, larch and wych elm on the Drimnin Estate, which are particularly noticeable in the grounds of St Columba's Chapel.
Good views are also afforded of the 19th century Drimnin House, with its white rendered exterior, platform roof, Jacobethan detailing and highly ornate interior. The house was rebuilt in 1852 following a fire in 1849 which destroyed much of the original house of the Macleans of Drimnin. The neo-gothic style house bears little resemblance to the former three-bay house with its flanking wings. Internally, the high ceilings, the intricate faux marble, ornate cornices and floral wall paintings give an air of opulence and wealth, in keeping with the status and aspirations of the Gordon family.
The chapel of St Columba (the destination of this walk) was designed by James Anderson and built in 1838. This former Roman Catholic chapel with its distinctive battlemented tower occupies the site of the demolished Drimnin Castle. Much of the stonework from the demolished castle was incorporated into the 19th century chapel.
The chapel of St Columba has recently been restored, following a period of abandonment and disrepair, with funds raised by St.Columba's Drimnin Trust. The restoration programme took place between 2008 and 2012 and involved carrying out repairs to the stonework, installing a new slate roof, and replacing the stone render with traditional Scottish lime harling. A bell, cast in London in 1862, was also installed to replace the earlier one removed during World War II, when the Chapel was taken out of service. The chapel now serves as an impressive concert and wedding venue.
There is also an opportunity on the walk to explore the lovely rugged coastline adjacent to the chapel. This is a great place for botanizing, bird watching and taking a picnic. Take time to explore the flora of the small rocky outcrops which provide suitable habitats for such species as wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus), English stonecrop (Sedum anglicum) thrift (Armeria maritima), sea plantain (Plantago maritima) and bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Look out for yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), devil's bit scabious (Succisa pratensis), and heath-spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata ssp ericetorum) in the surrounding wet coastal meadow/marsh. Scan the coast for otters and seals. A really stunning landscape and coastal, particularly lovely in Spring and Summer.
If staying locally, there is also a weekly foot passenger ferry service (by water taxi) in season from Drimnin pier to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. For further details/timetables please contact 07826 916 377.
Finding a suitable parking space is difficult in Drimnin due to the lack of any public parking spaces. You may be able to park off road by taking the coastal road (signposted Sea View and Bunavulin) and parking by the side of a derelict stone building or possibly elsewhere along the road depending on suitability.
1. Once parked, return to the Bunavulin road junction and turn left to head towards the slipway (jetty) , crossing the Mungosdail burn and passing by the road to the Drimnin Distillery. Just before you reach the end of the public road and Drimnin pier and slipway, take the signposted route to Dorlin (6m) on the right, which heads along a private road/track. The track ascends initially and is fringed with hazel and alder mixed woodland.
2. Head straight on at the first junction, passing by a house on the left.
3. At the next junction, take the track on the right by the stream, which passes by the side of a house and then through a metal gate.
4. Take the left hand track at the following junction through a metal gate signposted by a blue arrow and head towards the chapel tower which is just visible through the trees.
5. Take the right hand track through the kissing gate as signposted which leads to the chapel. Take time to admire the exterior of the chapel and the wonderful coastal views afforded from its raised position.
6. On returning from the chapel, it is worth heading down to the old boat house on the shore by taking the track through the gate of the right. This affords an opportunity for a spot of botanizing, bird watching and rock pooling. It is also a great place for a picnic with fine views of St Columba's Chapel in its commanding coastal position.
7. Return by the same route to the slipway/jetty. Take time to seek out the cairn near the slipway which stands in remembrance to Charles Maclean of Drimnin, who was killed on 16th April 1946 at Culloden.
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- there and back