Airor from Inverie


A long circular walk around the western end of the Knoydart Peninsula. This walk takes you along a tarmac road out of Inverie and up and around the headland to the quiet and sheltered beach at Airor. On the way you can detour to the old settlements and beaches of Reidh an Daraich, Sandaig and Doune. There is plenty of wildlife on the way, with reported regular sightings of red deer, otters, grey seals, buzzards, sea eagles and golden eagles. After Airor you leave the tarmac road and walk mostly along the beaches with views across the Sound of Sleat to the Isle of Skye. Once you reach Inverguseran you can either ford the wide but shallow river and take the track south along the eastern side of the river, or take a less trodden path up the western banks. Both will bring you to the Mam Uidhe pass which will give you an easy descent back over to Inverie. If you plan to visit the old settlements like Sandaig you will need to add an extra hour or two to the time.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the Old Forge at grid reference NG766000. The Old Forge is mainland Britain's most remote pub, situated on the wild and wonderful Knoydart Peninsula. The pub is the social hub of the village of Inverie and home to an incredibly welcoming self sufficient community.
  2. Inverie is only accessible by either boat or an eighteen mile walk over high mountain terrain. There are regular small ferries from Mallaig harbour, situated forty miles west of Fort William. Visit the Knoydart Foundation website here for ferry information. The Old Forge can be seen from Inverie harbour. To reach the pub from the harbour turn right and walk along the road for a hundred and fifty metres.
  3. From the Old Forge head west along the tarmac road following the shoreline. After a kilometre and a half the road rounds the back of the historic and perfectly situated Scottas House then starts ascending the hillside. As the road gains height the views will open up to the left over Loch Nevis.
  4. Just under another kilometre along the road it will bend right and head north towards Loch Glaschoille with its small concrete dam wall. Follow the road for another kilometre through wild desolate land. The ridge of Doire Fada is always on the right, where you will often see the silhouette of red deer stags on the horizon.
  5. Another kilometre along the road it crosses Lagan Bridge and turns left, now heading west then north-west. At Lagan Bridge there is a faint path which leads off towards the coast. If you have the time you can follow it down to the old settlement of Reidh an Daraich. This now abandoned village was once a bustling community before the Highland Clearances.
  6. Continue along the tarmac road heading north-west. The road eventually descends to a junction at the point where it crosses Sandaig Burn. Here, again if you have the time, you can walk down to the beach at Sandaig. It is a beautiful bay housing a self catering cottage and a converted chapel.
  7. After Sandaig continue along the tarmac road heading west for a kilometre. It will then turn right and head north. Here there is a track down to Doune where there are several buildings including the award winning holiday resort, and a small beach.
  8. The tarmac road continues north for two kilometres then descends to the beautiful sheltered bay at Airor. The road rounds the back of a house then turns right and reaches the end of the harbour wall.
  9. You can walk along the harbour wall and look across the sheltered waters between the beach and the small island just thirty or so metres out into the sea. On a good day you should see up to several dozen grey seals.
  10. A walk along the beach is essential. There are stunning rocks at the far end, and the beach is often alive with the sound of birdlife boasting gulls, sanderlings, oyster catchers, and herons. It is a fine place to sit and eat lunch. Look out also for the rocks with bizarre zigzag lines of quartz in them.
  11. Follow the road away from the beach in a north easterly direction. At the junction of the tracks, stay to the left, passing through a gate in front of the farm. After the farm the track crosses the Airor Burn.
  12. The road now becomes more of a rough track and becomes rocky after a while. This rocky track rises as it passes a large cattle shed on the left, then the bump of Torr Shamdalain, also on the left, before descending and passing the house at Samadalan.
  13. After passing the small island of Eilean Shamadalain at Samadalan, the path disappears regularly and sticking to the beach can sometimes be an easier option. This is now fairly wild coastal walking.
  14. Another kilometre along the coast you will reach the wide open bay at Inverguseran. You will also reach a wide obstacle: the Abhainn Inbhir Ghuiserein river.
  15. In summer months when the river is slow and shallow enough to cross at the wide ford, you to reach a track on the other side that heads south east through woodland into the glen. Follow the track south for two kilometres to a bridge over the river.
  16. At times when the river is in spate and too dangerous to cross, turn right and walk down the western side of the river into the glen. There is a faint path to a sharp bend in the river. Here you can head up the bank to a gate in the fence and round the top of the bend. After the bend in the river you have an angled and muddy path to follow for two kilometres to the river bridge.
  17. From the bridge ascend the track south to south-east. The track will top out at the hundred and sixty metre contour above the forest, then join the track from Gleann na Guiserein at Faloch Gate from the left.
  18. Continue heading south along the track crossing Mam Uidhe. The track will eventually reach the deer gate into the forest above Inverie. Pass through the deer gate and descend the track through the forest back to Inverie.
  19. At Inverie the Knoydart Foundation have setup an information centre where you can learn all about the fascinating history of Knoydart. There is no better way to finish a walk than a visit to the warm and welcoming Old Forge where you will find a friendly atmosphere, real ales and freshly caught seafood.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer 413 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 33 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Knoydart Map Click to buy Harvey Knoydart Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Airor from Inverie

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.