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Scottish anchorages

Port Appin

and Airds Bay

These two anchorages are on opposite sides of the same small headland, within easy walking distance of each other. Both are exposed to the south. If you can stand the rolling about which can be a problem, at Port Appin there are mooring buoys supplied by the Pierhouse, a pretty good place for a meal as it happens with I am told an excellent seafood restaurant  (ph 01631 730 302). It also has a sauna, and washing facilities for yachties. Mind you it seems to be moving up market — a seafood platter for two, a 'snip' at £80. I have only had a bar meal and I must confess I was disappointed. Maybe it was just an off night. No real ales either. Originally the building was a 19th century cottage for the pier master when steamships used to call here. It was considerably improved and extended in the 1990s. New owners in 2019 so things may well be changing.


For the very serious foodie the Airds Hotel beckons, just a few minutes up the road (ph 01631 730 236). It has been in the Good Food Guide for 42 years. Here you can get one of the best meals in Scotland, and they don't mind too much if you are a wee bit scruffy off a boat (no ties are needed thankfully). But maybe the food is a better experience if you stay at the hotel, the effect is rather spoiled by a wet row back to the boat in a strong south westerly wind. Then, in 2014, a Michelin star!  But maybe no longer.


Just across the road from Airds you will find the very pretty top section of the old Sgeir Bhuidhe lighthouse (yes, another Stevenson). In 2002 the original lighthouse was replaced by one of those ugly modern low-maintenance eco-friendly solar-powered boxes designed by someone with no aesthetic sense whatsoever. Indeed, the proposed change was so resented by the local community that one day they woke up to find their dear old lighthouse had been repainted to look like Mr Blobby, a well known TV cartoon character at the time. Needless to say the Northern Lighthouse Board was not amused.


Across the road, by the shop,The Lighthouse Craft Shop is good and sells what it says on the tin.

Original Sgeir Bhuidhe lighthouse top, Appin

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The top of the original Sgeir Bhuidhe lighthouse

The Port Appin studio, right by the pier, is run by Alex Gourlay, a landscape artist, and his wife Midge who is a textile designer. You can visit by appointment, and buy on-line (ph 01631 730594). The pastiche turrets on some of the modern houses by the pier leave something to be desired.


If you want to nip across to Lismore there is a passenger ferry operating from the pier. And you can hire bikes in Port Appin.


Airds bay is a bit more sheltered, at least from the north and west. The fine big house overlooking the bay is 18th century Airds House, privately owned so you can't really get near it. However, the round walk is good via Port Appin. It takes about 40 minutes if you are not tempted by the two excellent eating establishments above. Go ashore (with some difficulty) on the west side of the bay, pick up the track and turn left or right. To the left, near the headland is an impressive natural arch in the quartzite. A smaller more hidden one is to the right. The deciduous trees are lovely, clinging in some places to the limestone cliffs. In a short while you get to the Pierhouse. Further on, just before taking the path back off the road to Airds Bay, is the Airds Hotel. Also the village hall is near here where you can get local information, and there is a general store too. Plus the craft shop and a red telephone box converted to a book exchange.


An alternative is to walk along the road towards Glaceriska Bay on Loch Creran and take a look at Druimnell Gardens.

Port Appin

The pier and the Lismore Ferry, Morvern beyond