The beach on Loch Tiernait is just below your bothy accommodation and an ideal place to soak your feet and contemplate catching trout for your dinner.
Southward Equinox Experience
As the birds begin their migrations southwards and the leaves on the trees begin to shine golden, so the southward equinox marks the astronomical beginning of autumn.
Seize this opportunity to immerse yourself in the remoteness of the Morvern Peninsula!
Pick your own food from the Estate’s gardens; catch your own trout for dinner with the assistance of Ardtornish Estate’s ghillie; feast on gourmet food provided by the award winning Whitehouse Restaurant; sleep in a remote stone bothy overlooking the serene Loch Tearnait and be guided on a walk over the Table of Lorn and Glais Beinn by us.
This relaxing two-night slow adventure affords you the opportunity to detox well away from the strains of modern life as you share your thoughts and favourite literature or discuss future plans with like minded people. Watch the sun set as you reflect upon your year so far, then marvel at the stars illuminating an area becoming known for its dark skies and keep your fingers crossed for the aurora borealis to show.
Above all, unwind and celebrate the opportunities your life affords you!
Activity Level Moderate3/8
Group Size Large Group8
The southward (or vernal) equinox has been used as a ‘zero’ point in measuring star coordinates and we will take time to focus in on what we have achieved in our lives and we we have yet to discover.
At 02:54 on September 23rd the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the centre of the sun on a southward journey. This marks the beginning of autumn as the most colourful season takes hold of the landscapes across the Morvern Peninsula. It also affords us an opportunity to simplify our lives for a while away from the stress of modern life.
As autumn rolls in the chances of seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) once again increases with NASA suggesting that geomagnetic storms that lead to the aurora are twice as likely to occur around the equinoxes than in summer or winter. We will all be keeping our fingers crossed for a clear night and, even if we only see stars, lying on the beach by Loch Tearnait staring up at them and marvelling at how small we are will still be an amazing experience.
In order to seize this moment in our calendar in a fitting manner, three very local businesses that have fully embraced the slow adventure and slow food concepts have joined together to offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the sights and tastes of the remote Morvern Peninsula.
The Ardtornish Estate, was described in Conde Nast Traveller (2014) by Justin Cartwright as “a wild, wild place” and “big even by Scottish standards”. Leacraithnaich Bothy and Loch Tearnait, our home for the night, sits in one of the remoter parts in the shadows of Glais Bheinn and the Table of Lorn. The bothy is owned by the Ardtornish Estate and maintenance is paid for by the estate. This trip takes place during stalking season when the estate traditionally closes the bothy. The have been very generous in allowing us to use Leacraithnaich during this period.
Volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) do a valuable job in helping maintain this and around 100 shelters across Great Britain. Please consider becoming a member and getting involved in working parties so bothies such as this remain pen to the public as much as possible.
The Whitehouse Restaurant, Loch Aline, has recently been voted ‘Scotland’s local restaurant of the year’ in the Good Food Guide 2017 while the latest edition of the Rough Guide to the Highlands and Island of Scotland described the restaurant as “one of the Highlands’ best restaurants. Simple style belies outstanding modern European cooking that showcases local meat and seafood”.
Otter Adventures draws upon over 35 years experience in guiding and coaching in the outdoors in order to create unique or bespoke adventures for people of all ages and is also a founding director of the new Slow Adventure Cooperative.
A Slow Adventure links human powered journeys with local, wild or slow food and time spent in wild landscapes thereby create an inspiring connection with the outdoors. This experience does just that…
- This tour is only suitable for people aged 18 years and above who appreciate taking their time in the mountains and for whom the experience, the food, the scenery and the company are more important than reaching the summits.
- Minimum number two (2) people and maximum eight (8) people.
- You do not need to be exceptionally fit to join this journey – most people who regularly walk in hills will probably be fit enough already. Please refer to the FAQs for fuller details.
- Please refer to the ‘Itinerary’ tab for full details of the two days activities and the menu.
The following items are included in the price:
- A local qualified and experienced guide throughout the tour;
- One night’s accommodation in Ardtornish Estate’s luxurious bunkhouse;
- A second night in a remote mountain bothy with exclusive use generously granted by the Ardtornish Estate*;
- A tour of the estate’s produce garden where you will pick some of the food for your dinner;
- Fishing with the estate’s ghillie on Friday afternoon with the catch providing the basis for that evening’s dinner;
- Dinner on Friday and Saturday, breakfast and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday principally provided by the award winning Whitehouse Restaurant, Loch Aline and created from locally sourced products.
* Please see the note under the ‘Accommodation’ tab
Unfortunately the following items are not included in the tour, but if you have problems sourcing them, we may be able to assist:
- Transport to and from Ardtornish Estate;
- Accommodation before or after the tour;
- Personal items detailed in the FAQ section;
- Drinks during the walks (other than tea, coffee and hot chocolate with meals);
- Any additional snacks you like to eat whilst walking (e.g packets of nuts, chocolate bars, etc.).
Day 1 (21st September 2017)
Meet, dinner and
Meet in the car park by the Ardtornish Estate office at 17:00; full joining instructions are in one of the FAQs and will be sent via email in advance of the trip.
The bunkhouse is right beside us and, once everyone has arrived, we will have introductions and a quick kit check to ensure everyone is suitably prepared. After that, we will be transported 15 minutes to the nearest village, Loch Aline, where the multi-award winning Whitehouse Restaurant will provide us with a two-course gourmet dinner.
Any drinks will be optional and at your own additional expense.
Back at the bunkhouse, we can share a ’wee dram’ around the log burner as we get to know each other and relax while discussing the next few days and whatever takes our fancy…
Day 2 (22nd September)
Pick own food, walk-in and trout fishing
After a heart breakfast, we will have a guided tour off the Ardtornish Estate’s produce garden where you will also be able to pick some of the slow grown food needed to accompany our dinner.
After this we will collect our kit bags and walk up a good track to Leacraithnaich Bothy – our home for the second night. Please see the kit list in the FAQs so you know what to bring with you.
The route is less than 5 km (c. 2.75 miles) on a firm, wide track that rises steadily throughout and the anticipated walk time is less than two hours including short breaks. A stone seat overlooking a lochan created for one of the estate’s hydro schemes offers a suitable place to pause and soak in the views.
You will be welcome to walk this section entirely at your own pace or stay with your guide and the rest of the group. Maps of the route can be provided for those wishing them. You will be carrying your personal belongings and sleeping equipment throughout this walk, and also the longer one on day three.
This leisurely walk should see us all at the bothy by 1.00 pm Here we will share the tasks of putting the final preparations to our sumptuous lunch provided by the Whitehouse restaurant before consuming it whilst hopefully enjoying the view across Loch Teranait and towards the Table or Lorne and Glaiss Bheinn, our intended route for day 3.
During the afternoon we will be joined by the estate’s ghillie who will show us how to fish for trout. While this unique opportunity should provide us with the main element of our dinner, it is also a time to reflect upon our connection with the natural world, our place in it and how we use the resources that it can provide us with.
With only sufficient fish caught to feed us all, the ghillie will show us how to gut and clean them in preparation for dinner. This is again provided by the Whitehouse Restaurant and will be cooked inside the bothy.
Dinner will be a communal affair with everyone helping to cook and clear up. Local produce from some of the finest suppliers will feature heavily and then evening will be ours to relax and enjoy.
If we time it right, we can be eating as the sun sets on summer (19:21). That way we can spend time swapping stories of adventures had or to come before soaking in the amazing views over Loch Tearnait.
By 8.02 pm, the official time of the equinox this year, we should have cleared up after dinner and be relaxing, hopefully outside, with a local beverage whilst chatting and sharing stories or readings from our favourite literature or poetry.
As dusk encroaches (c. 21.32) we may well be lucky enough to look back over Leacraithnaich Bothy to the north and see the northern lights (aurora borealis).
This would certainly be an amazing way to end summer …
Day 3 (23rd September)
Early rise, breakfast & walk over Glais Bheinn
For those that wish to stay up late or rise early, the southward equinox passes at 02:54!
Rising early for coffee and to beat the sun coming up over the mountains (07:09) is also entirely optional, but would be an amazing way to start another gourmet day, this time in the mountains.
With memories fuelled and photographs captured, we will prepare breakfast created from locally sourced foods ready to eat around 08:30.
Suitably fuelled, and with cooking equipment washed and cleaned away, our thoughts will no doubt turn to choosing the most suitable walking route for the day…
With routes ranging between 12 and 20 km (c. 7 and 12.5 miles), the exact route will depend upon the people in the group as much as the weather. This will be negotiated and agreed after breakfast whilst we remember that this is a relaxing experience where enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of the Morvern Peninsula are our priority; therefore we will aim to depart by 10:00.
The first 2-3 km of walking are on a good track, the remainder across open access land. Whilst this is generally good going, there are some sections of tussocky grass and rocky patches to negotiate. There is only one short, relatively steep ascent (c. 320 meters over 3.5 km) to contend with although alternative routes have more ascent and descent.
Whatever your age or fitness level, collapsible trekking or walking poles are highly recommended as they serve multiple purposes. If you decide to buy some for the trip, advice and guidance will be given on how to gain the best from them.
Lunch, again provided by the Whitehouse Restaurant, will be carried with us and eaten at a suitable location during the walk – perhaps on the Table of Lorn with stunning views over the Sound of Mull and back towards the mainland around Oban.
Descending from Glaiss Bheinn, our intention will be to arrive back at the Estate Office and complete our journey between 15:00 and 16:00 pm on Sunday.
Should you wish rtf extend your stay in the area (and there is a lot to see and do), it may be possible to book an extra night in the estate’s bunkhouse or in bed and breakfast accommodation locally (although these are not included in the trip price).
As you strike out on day two, don't forget to look back and see how your bothy for the night nestles into the landscape.
Don't forget to look behind you as you depart along the shores of Loch Tearnait on day two. Then you will see your bothy nestled into the landscape above the loch.
Your overnight accommodation (Friday night) will be the Ardtornish Estate’s bunkhouse right in the working heart of the Estate where, sat around their wood burning stove with a wee dram in hand, we can all get to know each other.
The second night will be in a beautiful but very rustic and sturdy, mountain bothy. These are stone buildings, often croft buildings no longer used as such, that afford shelter to people benighted in the mountains for whatever reason.
A small fire at one end offers warmth and light to the kitchen / dining area whilst a separate sleeping area has a simple raised platform for us all to spread our sleeping bags and mats out on. No toilets or wash facilities exist and drinking water will need be filtered from the freshwater loch.
Whilst spacious for a bothy, everyone will be sharing these small rooms from Saturday lunch time through to Saturday morning. There is only one sleeping room that we will all share. If you would like to hire a tent from us, please get in touch prior to booking.
Note: While we have been granted permission by the owners, the Ardtronish Estate, to be the sole users of the bothy during a period when they close it as part of the deer stalking session, we cannot guarantee that our use will be exclusive. If a weary traveler or fisherman needs shelter for the night, we will uphold the bothy code and welcome them inside.
- Modern bunkhouse and simple bothy accommodation with stunning views;
- Ample wood for the fireplace;
- Gas cooking facilities;
- All meals from Friday dinner through to Saturday lunch inclusive;
- Sleeping bag and mat;
- Accommodation before or after the trip (Thursday or Sunday nights – see FAQ for further information).
Averagely hill fit is the honest answer!
But what does that mean?
If you can walk up several flights of stairs without being too out of breath or can walk up a gently steepening hill without undue exertion and is not out off by the idea of walking ‘cross country’ as opposed to purely on paths, then you should be fine on this trip. Certainly day 1 will be well within your comfort zone.
Recent hill walking experience (i.e. several day walks over the summer in hilly / mountainous areas) should be sufficient for this experience. If in doubt about your fitness level, please call me to discuss this (07521 676274) before booking, but remember that I am not a substitute for a doctor!
The first day’s walk covers just 4.7 km on good tracks in an anticipated maximum time of two hours. The second day will cover about 12 km in five hours (including lunch and breaks), but this can be extended if the whole group feel they are up to the challenge.
Whilst this is a trip that combines the specialities of three local businesses, there are a few things you will need to being with you in order to make sure you are safe, comfortable and suitably equipped for the duration. Please bring the following, which you will be wearing / carrying during the walks, and remember that this is not an exhaustive list of what to bring:
- Breathable waterproof jacket and trousers;
- Waterproof walking boots;
- Gaiters (optional and down personal preference);
- Suitable walking clothes including spare jumper;
- Additional jacket for the evening;
- Sun hat and/or beanie hat;
- Spare pair of socks;
- Suitably sized and fitted rucksack (c.60 later capacity);
- Sleeping bag and mat;
- Compass (should you wish to develop your navigation skills);
- Personal wash kit and first aid kit;
- Personal eating and drinking equipment (cup, plate, bowl, cutlery, etc.);
- Collapsible walking / trekking poles (optional but advised);
- Camera and spare batteries;
- Snacks for yourself during the walks (lunch will be provided) such as nuts, chocolate bars, etc.;
- Suitably sized water bottle(s) – 3 litres would be recommended;
- Towel and swimming trunks (should you wish to dip your toes in the water);
- Any medicines you may need during the trip (please discuss this with us prior to booking).
We will meet at the Ardtornish Estate Office near Loch Aline at 18.00 on Friday 21st September 2018. Early arrival is not necessary as we will be making sure all elements of the adventure are in place for you.
Late arrival may mean that we are already established in the bunkhouse (adjacent to the meeting place) and underway with dinner.
We aim to finish our walk back at the Estate Office between 15:00 and 16:00 pm on Sunday 23rd where you will be free to depart by whatever route you wish.
If you need further assistance with accommodation in the area before or after the trip, please look at the Ardnamurchan Tourist Association website as there is a diversity of options available within a short drive. Or ask us for guidance at the time of booking.
There are three main ways of getting here – by boat and driving from Oban, driving from the Fort William side or from the Mallaig / Skye direction.
You can drive from Oban about an hour further north to the Corran ferry near Fort William (see directions below for Fort William) or take a ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, drive to Fishmish and take the ferry to Loch Aline. The Craignure ferry is very popular, so booking in advance is advised.
Once off the ferry, turn right onto the main road up the hill and you will find the turning to the estate is well signposted on your right just over 4 km away.
From Fort William
The quickest route is south on the A82 as far as the Corran Ferry where a very short crossing brings you onto the peninsulas.
Drive off the ferry and turn left towards Strontian but turn off the A861 just after you see Loch Sunart and before you reach Strontian. This is the A884 and is signposted ‘Loch Aline’.
Approximately 25 km (15 miles) of driving will bring you to the obvious signpost on your left for the estate.
From Skye / Mallaig
The ferry from Armadale on Skye brings you to Mallaig where you will join the A830 heading towards Fort William. After c. 25km (15 miles) turn right onto the A861 (signposted Glenuig) and follow this mostly single track road all the way through Strontian.
Further details and public transport options (including sea plane) are available on the Ardtornish Estate’s website. If you should need any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The menu is based around two underlying elements: the food that we catch (trout) our pick (from the estate garden) and other locally sourced seasonal produce.
The Whitehouse Restaurant have created an appetising menu for us and will provide the bulk of the food that we eat. Much of this will be grown and hand picked from the Ardtornish Estate’s own gardens which is heavily associated with the restaurant.
The following is the intended menu, but this is subject to change for a number of reasons:
- Venison steaks from the estate’s own deer
- Smoked salmon pate
- Handmade bread
- Oat cakes
- Scottish cheese
- Tablet and border tart
- Coffee, tea or hot chocolate
- Trout cooked in lemon and butter or salt brick
- Herby potato salad
- Locally grown seasonal salad and dressing
- Compote and cream
- Tea, coffee or hot chocloate
- Hot ‘Bothy Breakfast’
- Apple and spice porridge
- Coffee, tea or hot chocolate
- Venison pâté made from the estate’s own deer herd
- Variety of local cold meats
- Variety of locally produced cheeses
- Loaf of handmade bread or treacle bread
- Handmade chutneys
There are a few other accommodation options in the vicinity and further afield.
One couple will be able to benefit from a special offer in conjunction with Otterburn Bed and Breakfast, in Strontian, as that it where I am based. I will also be able to give you a lift to and from Ardtornish if you wish.
Other accommodation in Strontian includes Lea Cottage, Heatherbank and also the Strontian Hotel. There is also a campsite, Sunart Camping, that can accommodate tents through to camper vans and a bunkhouse at the Ariundle Centre.
Due to the large wedding on the Ardtornish Estate, accommodation on Saturday night in Lochaline may be very limited. You may wish to try the following: Willow Brae, the Lochaline Dive Centre bunkhouse.
This is not an exhaustive list and other accommodation options may be available both locally and further afield.
Bad weather is subjective… but good quality waterproof clothing is essential!
This trip will take place, perhaps with modifications, except in extreme weather conditions (e.g. gale force winds, heavy snowfall, etc.). You must come equipped for cold, wet and windy weather.
If we cancel the trip, you will receive a full refund of the amount paid to us for this specific trip in line with our terms and conditions; Refunds for any additional accommodation, activities or transport are outside of our agreement.
Late September is traditionally the end of the midge season, so we should be able to sit outside in the evening and morning.
Day time temperatures typically range from 8 – 12 degrees Celsius (46 – 58 degrees Fahrenheit), night time temperatures may extend below zero.
And it may well rain; perhaps only a little, perhaps a lot. We just don’t know, it is Scotland!
But we will be keeping our fingers crossed for clear skies and dry days…