Mallaig, Scotland  » Travel  »
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  • Mallaig, on the western coast of Highland Scotland, may not be everyone's first thought when they come to consider places to visit in that part of the world
  • The one I have experience of is the Caledonian MacBrayne service to the Small Isles (which are Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck) but the same company also operates a larger ship to Armadale on the south coast of the Isle of Skye
  • Mallaig's fishing industry is not what it was - only one kipper smokery remains in the town - but if you manage to look past the grime and noise I think you'll appreciate a port which still has genuine life to it and has not degenerated into a sanitised museum piece
  • For more workaday items you can go to the Co-op close to the roundabout in front of the entrance to the ferry port entrance - there is also a Spar in the town centre, but this is slightly less convenient
  • In all honesty I would find it hard to recommend the long journey to Mallaig in and of itself

    • by fredhound
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      Mallaig, on the western coast of Highland Scotland, may not be everyone’s first thought when they come to consider places to visit in that part of the world. It is, after all, first and foremost a port, and in general ports are not the most attractive of towns. To be scrupulously fair, Mallaig itself is not really an exception to this rule, yet it can make a surprisingly pleasant place to while away a couple of hours. Straight away I should mention the small but well kept Mallaig Heritage Centre - if this is open and you have the time, you could do a lot worse than to have a nose around.

      The most likely reason to have that time to kill is that you are waiting to catch a ferry, of which a fair number leave from the town. The one I have experience of is the Caledonian MacBrayne service to the Small Isles (which are Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck) but the same company also operates a larger ship to Armadale on the south coast of the Isle of Skye. You can also get a boat from here to Inverie, one of the last remaining villages in mainland Scotland without road access from the rest of the country.

      Unless you


      are approaching Mallaig by sea, there are two ways you are likely to get here, both of them rather romantic in nature. The first way in is via the A830 main road from Fort William. This is known as “The Road to the Isles”, and I can hardly argue with that title! Until very recently this was one of the slowest main roads in Britain, with considerable stretches of single track road with passing places. As I know from experience, that could make it a bit of a nerve racking journey if you were intending to connect with an infrequent ferry route at Mallaig! However, it has now been upgraded to a much higher standard and although still no motorway should now present far fewer problems.

      The other main way to Mallaig is by rail, and again if you choose this route you are likely to be starting from Fort William. Services along the line are few and far between, with only three or four trains running each way on most days, and unless you choose to travel on “The Jacobite”steam train (which is superb, but you must book in advance) you should put out of your head any thoughts of an old-style luxury travelling experience. The trains used for ordinary ...


      • services on the route are small and uninteresting, although they do have decent sized picture windows through which you can admire the wonderful scenery.

        Since Mallaig itself is a small town, there is little risk of getting lost. The railway station is only a short walk from the sea front, and if you are coming by car there are plenty of parking places provided. You should make sure to read all signs carefully, however, as many of the car parks only allow you to stay for a couple of hours, which is not a lot of use if you are going on a ferry! I would suggest parking along the road which winds around the harbour side north from the town centre, where cars (and only cars) may stay all day. You should feel safe doing this, as this is not an area subject to vandalism.

        If you only have a short time before catching a ferry or train, my recommendation would be to watch the harbour for a while, perhaps after a short walk among the hills above the town. Especially if you come from an inland area, as I do, there is a fascination about a working port which is not quite matched by anything else. Mallaig’s fishing industry is

        not what it was - only one kipper smokery remains in the town - but if you manage to look past the grime and noise I think you’ll appreciate a port which still has genuine life to it and has not degenerated into a sanitised museum piece.

        There is not a huge choice of places to eat in Mallaig, but simple fare such as fish and chips is quite easily obtained and - as you would expect of a fishing port - is generally very good. For more workaday items you can go to the Co-op close to the roundabout in front of the entrance to the ferry port entrance - there is also a Spar in the town centre, but this is slightly less convenient. If you’re staying in Mallaig, perhaps because ferry/train connections are inconvenient, there are several bed and breakfast outfits to choose from.

        In all honesty I would find it hard to recommend the long journey to Mallaig in and of itself. The scenery on the way is stunning, but the town itself is not really worth travelling hundreds of miles for. However, if you should find yourself here anyway, you should not despair, as while not a place that could be called beautiful Mallaig is not without its attractions.




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