Arisaig is a small village on the coast of Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands. It stands on the Road to the Isles, the traditional route from the south via Fort William to Mallaig and thence to Skye. You can still travel this way, though most traffic now reaches Skye via the bridge, and Arisaig is more peaceful as a result.
ScotRail run four trains a day (one on Sunday in winter, two in summer) from Glasgow Queen Street along the scenic West Highland Line via Arrochar (for Loch Lomond), Crianlarich, Fort William, Glenfinnan and Arisaig to Mallaig. (These trains split at Crianlarich, with part of them going to Oban, so you need to be in the right section.) The last train south is around 18:30 to reach Queen Street by midnight.
The Jacobite steam train runs April-Oct between Fort William and Mallaig, and stops by request at Arisaig. It's a six-hour excursion (depart 10:15, return by 16:00) allowing two hours in Arisaig. An adult day trip is £38 standard, £60 first class, child £21 / £33; single tickets (standard only) are £32 adult, £19 child. Mid-May to mid-Sept there's also an afternoon train (14:30 - 20:30), so you could have six hours in Arisaig, time for a boat trip to the Small Isles, by going in the morning and returning on the afternoon excursion. Trains also stop at Glenfinnan for the obligatory photo of the viaduct. The morning excursion connects with the Caledonian Sleeper from London. In previous years some of them started from Glasgow or Edinburgh, but they're don't do so in 2019.
Under your own steam, using the regular train service, you can day trip here from Fort William leaving at 08:30 or 12:00 and setting off back around 16:20 or 18:30, for only £13 adult return.
1 Arisaig railway station is the most westerly station on the Great Britain rail network.
Shiel Bus 500 runs between Fort William and Mallaig stopping at Arisaig, four times per day Monday to Friday and once on Saturday and Sunday. Bus 501 also runs between Arisaig and Mallaig three times a day.
Arisaig is just off the A830, the 'Road to the Isles'. This runs west from the A82 at Fort William. Much of the A830 has been improved, so is fairly quick driving, though there are still a few tight bends.
- 1 The Land, Sea and Island Centre, ☏ +44 1687 450771. Displays about the social and natural history of the area.
- 2 The Prince's Cairn (next to the A830 road, near Beasdale). A cairn on the shore of Loch nan Uamh, marking the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie departed for France in 1746, following the failure of the Jacobite rising.
- 3 Loch nan Uamh Viaduct. A concrete viaduct built 1897-1901 to carry the railway past the head of the loch. See "Get in" above for times when The Jacobite steam train is scheduled to cross. At the larger Glenfinnan Viaduct 15 miles east, there was a legend that a horse and cart fell into one of the bridge pylons during construction and became entombed. Modern imaging could find nothing there, but in 2001 the horse and cart were detected within the central pylon here. Alas, it was too late to save the poor horse.
- 1 Beasdale railway station, off the A830, near Druimindarroch, PH39 4NR (to the south of Arisaig on the Mallaig Extension Railway (now part of the West Highland Line)). It was built as a private convenience for a nearby house and was used during World War II as the station where SOE agents practised boarding and alighting moving trains. (The whole peninsuala area up to Mallaig was used as a training ground for the Executive's "Toughening Schools", where paramilitary skills were taught to potential agents.) The station building is privately owned after having been restored, but the platform is still in use as a request stop. It is frequented by hikers exploring the surrounding hills and wild coastline.
- The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show is held in early June on Camusdarach beach, midway between Mallaig and Arisaig. The 2021 event is TBA.
- Arisaig Americana is a music festival in June. The next is 4-6 June 2021.
- Arisaig Highland Games are held in July / Aug. The next event is 27-28 July 2021.
- 1 Spar, The Harbour, PH39 4NH. Small grocery store and post office.
- The Old Library is the best option, see "Sleep".
- Or try nearby Mallaig, which has a couple of seafood restaurants.
- 1 Sunnyside Croft Touring Site, PH39 4NT (3 miles north of Arisaig off B8008), ☏ +44 1687 450 643, firstname.lastname@example.org. Pitches for camper vans, caravans and tents. Pitch or tent with vehicle £10, backpacker tent £5.
- Old Library Lodge, PH39 4NH, ☏ +44 1687 450651. Pleasant 3-star with good restaurant. Closed in Jan. B&B double £120.
- Rhenetra B&B, PH39 4NS, +44 01687450392. Quaint and charming B&B run by host CJ. Breakfast included. £50 avg for a double, per night.
As of June 2022, Arisaig and its approach roads have a very patchy 4G signal from Three, Vodafone and (if you're lucky) O2, but nothing from EE. 5G has not reached this area.
- The road north leads to Mallaig, for year-round ferries to Armadale on Skye and to the Small Isles.
- In summer the Small Isles can be reached direct from Arisaig by a foot-passenger ferry. Eigg is probably the most pleasant to explore.
- The road east leads through Glenfinnan with its famous railway viaduct, thence to Fort William.