Arisaig lies at the head of a sea loch called Loch nan Ceall, which is separated from the open sea by a jumble of rocks and tiny islands, making the loch a wonderfully tranquil stretch of water, ideal for sea kayaking; in fact the name actually means "the safe place". However, it has not always been this peaceful: in 1746 the loch was the scene of a fierce naval battle involving two French ships which turned up in the area to lend assistance to the Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden. The ships were caught by the Royal Navy, but they managed to escape, but not before offloading a hoard of gold being carried on board. The gold was then carried inland to Loch Arkaig, where it was hidden, but was subsequently lost.
As well as being on the A830 from Fort William, Arisaig is on the West Highland railway line, and is one of the stops on the Jacobite train journey (see Mallaig post). From April to September there are wildlife cruises from Arisaig to the nearby islands of Muck, Eigg and Rum, with opportunities to view creatures such as whales, otters and dolphins. Back in the village an old forge has been renovated and turned into the Land, Sea and Islands Visitor Centre, with displays on the social and natural history of the area. At nearby Barrahead is a lighthouse built by Thomas Stevenson, brother of Robert Louis. One of the people who worked on the lighthouse was one John Silver, who is believed to have been the inspiration for the Long John Silver character in Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel Treasure Island.
Map of the area.
© 2005 Mick Garratt, via Wikimedia Commons