The ‘Loch of Heaven’ lives up to its billing. Hulking Highland massifs, scythed by plunging glens, soar above Loch Nevis on both sides in tree-shrouded welcome; a pod of bottlenose dolphins breaks the cobalt waters. It looks and feels like a brooding TV documentary. The Knoydart Peninsula is, though, a real living landscape where real people lead real lives. This vibrant community makes Knoydart one of the most captivating escapes in Scotland for a holiday that quickly becomes more than just a holiday.

There is nowhere quite like Knoydart. Or at least not today. Before the baleful Clearances – at the hands of Lord Brocket, Knoydart saw some of the most brutal evictions – Knoydart was just one of the myriad communities that eked out a living in and around the west Highland littoral, with over 2,000 residents. Many of these communities simply no longer exist.

Knoydart stands defiant: a testament to the sheer will of man. And woman and child, a whole community here who snatched back ownership of their land in 1999. Naysayers scoffed, but they’ve made it work, the icing on the cake coming with the re-opening of the legendary Old Forge pub under community ownership this summer.

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There are few places in the world I’ve visited as a travel writer whose mere continued existence is the main draw. It’s not easy, of course. The British road network gives up the ghost at Kinloch Hourn, leaving a hefty 15 mile hike; longer from Glenfinnan. Scotrail don’t venture here; neither do CalMac. It’s left to Western Isles Cruises from Mallaig to provide the lifeline.

The ferry helps, but it is the community that makes Knoydart what it is. They and their Knoydart Foundation are no idle talking shop. Not happy with power supply and costs, they built their own grid using hydropower. Done with empty Clearances-era hillsides, they’re rewilding with over 500,000 trees planted since 1999, with four new woodlands being developed: Mary Ann’s, Ben’s, Abhainn Bheag and Coire Sgreucha.

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Not happy with the owner of the local social hub pub – you get the idea. The community on Knoydart gets things done. It’s like Camberwick Green or Trumpton. On steroids. Everyone does at least two jobs or roles, harnessing the fighting spirit of the original Seven Men of Knoydart, who dared to stand up to Brocket in 1948.

People all weave together – not always seamlessly, of course – to create a model that is instantly intriguing to anyone from Scotland’s more socially alienated cities. It’s hard not to romanticise, but talking to everyone you meet – and listening – brings real rewards. And an insight into the story of how they came from near annihilation to now having well over 100 souls, with the school roll going up and young people coming back from Scotland’s cities.

Don’t miss any event at the community hall – which, of course, the community impressively rebuilt – to learn more.

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You could just wrap yourself in the rhythm of Knoydart’s community for a fascinating holiday in its own right. To do that solely would be to miss out on fully enjoying its epic natural charms. We are talking a wildscape (albeit a man-made one – the picturesque legacy of the Clearances) beyond the only village of Inverie where you’ll see more eagles and deer than people, alive with half a dozen Munros and a flurry of ancillary peaks.

One of my favourite hikes is 796m-high Sgùrr Coire Choinnichean, a relatively easy task for experienced walkers taking all the usual safety precautions. You can yomp up here from Inverie to the top of the world to take in swathes of Knoydart and the Rough Bounds, then be back for a pint at the Old Forge in an afternoon. Bring your boots – you could walk for a week in Knoydart and be left desperate to come back for more. The Knoydart Foundation run a ranger service if you don’t want to head out solo.

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It’s not just testing hiking that tempts. You can mountain bike around the rough trails above Inverie, or on the old drovers trails, with bike (and e-bike) hire available from the Knoydart Foundation. They also set-up bushcraft experiences with Daniel “Woody” Wood. To get down to cetacean level, Love Knoydart offer both guided and self-guided kayaking. For a more relaxed adventure, you’re welcome to visit the Community Market Garden, or stroll along the ‘Knoydart in a Knutshell’ waymarked walk.

Inverie may be small, but there is always something more to explore. There is the Knoydart Brewery and the sweep of Long Beach around the bay, home to Knoydart’s campsite. Next to The SHOP is a gift shop that sells the work of Knoydart artists and craftspeople, like the jewellery of JCR Design, the local landscapes of Trisha Birch, the local creations of Wood Knoydart and the handmade souvenirs of Made in Knoydart.

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And then there is the work of sisters Isla and Rhona Miller across the road in the pottery. If you’re here for a week or longer, you can even use ‘remote’ Knoydart as a base for a day trip – via Mallaig or Arisaig – to its kindred spirit community-owned island of Eigg.

I’ve been lucky to get to experience Knoydart half a dozen times. I’d have no hesitation to stop writing this and dash off with you if you offered me to go back right now.

Yes it is deeply romantic and has the sort of scenery that makes BBC producers swoon, but Knoydart is all about its people, a community who make you think about what communities are, about how they function, with lessons perhaps for us all that resonate well beyond any holiday.



The Wee Hooses

Sleep soundly knowing you’ve ploughed cash back into the peninsula at these community-owned cabins. The cosy trio offer great views of Loch Nevis and sleep four with a double bed and a bunk that is handy for kids.

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They’ve used the space really well with a decent kitchen, wood burner and decking out front. Cook up a feast of Knoydart venison using the discount vouchers left for Knoydart’s SHOP.

Knoydart Hide

Recline in award-winning luxury with a wood burner, outdoor floodlit hot tub and an infra-red sauna. This romantic self-catering escape for two is completed by the double hammock on the deck.

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The Gathering

Most accommodation options in Knoydart are self-catering. Stay here B&B – a full Scottish sets you up for a day battling the local hills, or opt for the daily fresh seafood special. There are sweeping loch views, a hot tub and the option of self-catering too. The on-site restaurant tempts too at night.




This is a store that well deserves its capitalisation: there is everything you need here. And more. Stock up on locally grown fruit and vegetables, plus fresh venison from Knoydart’s hills.

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We made Knoydart rhubarb crumble and seared venison loin last time we were here – delicious, best washed down with Knoydart Coffee.

Knoydart Pottery and Tearoom

Sisters Isla and Rhona Miller run a brilliant tearoom in the heart of the village. Tuck into delicious homebaking and fresh light meals on the terrace as you look out for orcas. Look out, too, for their famous fish and chip nights and pizza nights.

The Old Forge

The legendary pub – the British mainland’s most remote – was bought by the community in March 2022. They’ve put a huge effort into an impressive revamp for this summer and hope to reopen at the beginning of August. You can see how the work is going on the twitter feed @theoldforgecbs

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Look out for Knoydart Brewery ales and guests from across the water on Eigg. If you’ve walked the 15 miles from Kinloch Hourn just say ‘Wiggle’ at the bar for a free limited edition ‘Trale Ale’ from Knoydart Brewery.




“We’ve had the tearoom for 15 years and have watched as Knoydart has gained the confidence to make its own decisions and do what the people believe in. It’s a very welcoming community where you’re rewarded for the efforts you put in. Together we’ve made the buyout work.”

“It’s great that – with help from people from all over the world – we’ve got the pub back and can open all year-round again. Knoydart’s community stretches beyond the peninsula. We’re on board too with the new SCOTO initiative that seeks to welcome visitors as ‘temporary’ locals.”


“Once you wouldn’t be able to walk half a mile in Knoydart without being welcomed into a home. Then came the dark days. Now we’re fighting back and the struggle to buy the pub was part of that. Maybe we have lessons for other communities across the Highlands.”


“I only moved to Knoydart relatively recently and I’ve been really impressed with how welcome I’ve been made to feel. I lived in a flat in Glasgow before and my neighbours were strangers. Contributing to the community is key – if you do that you’re very welcome.”