Bashing down the gnarly trail that scythes between hulking Highland massifs Britain’s most remote pub seems impossibly far away. As I descend by a wake of ruined crofts I feel smaller still as the landscape unfurls like a cinema screen to reveal an ice-calm sea loch, savagely wild slopes and thunderous skies. The only sounds are from a rumbling herd of Highland Cattle; the only other visible life a golden eagle soaring high in the thermals. Welcome to Knoydart, the utterly unique peninsula I’ll be heading back to as soon as restrictions allow, in search of a pub and community that somehow survive wedged literally between heaven and hell.
“Getting to the Old Forge… is not easy”
I’ll be honest with you: getting to the Old Forge – the pub Guinness World Records recognise as the British mainland’s most remote – is not easy. There is no rail line in, nor road. The first time I ventured here I ‘cheated’ with a long train ride from Glasgow to Fort William, then another train along the ‘Harry Potter Line’ to Mallaig, finishing off bouncing across the Hebridean waters sandwiched between a crate of wriggling langoustines and a headless stag – both resurfaced on the menu for dinner.
The other option is to walk in. I say walk, but it’s more a spirit challenging, spirit soaring battle. Let’s just say either of the brace of options will give you a new understanding of the word boggy. I’ve yomped in from Kinlochhourn, breaking my journey with a night in the informal bothy at Barrisdale.
The Glenfinnan route is even tougher as you have to face the notorious ‘Rough Bounds’, some of Europe’s harshest and most remote mountain country. There are two bothies en route for a night at each, but you’ll need a back up tent as the bothies can fill up.