Earlier this month I found myself up in the Scottish highlands with my husband for a long weekend of explorations. We started off in Mallaig as a jumping off point to the Isle of Skye and Knoydart – an incredibly remote village located on a peninsula in the west coast of the Highlands.
Knoydart is cut off from the UK mainland road network, which means you can only get there by boat or by foot. We chose the boat. It is home to 120 residents and the alleged remotest pub in Britain – The Old Forge.
I was pretty excited to visit the Old Forge so withstood the 45 minutes of stomach-churning nausea on the boat to get to the village, which consisted of a pub, a tea room and a shop overlooking the sea. There are only a few boat per day from Mallaig, so we ended up getting there at about 11 am only to find out that the pub didn’t open until 3pm (there goes my pub lunch plans…)! We settled for a wander along the beach, taking in the magnificent scenery.
As you can see from the threatening skyline, we were sorely missing the creature comforts of a good old pub, particularly on the one or two occasions we had to jump into someone’s empty barn or garage for shelter from the onslaught of torrential downpour.
After a few hours of dodging rain clouds and exploring the peninsula, our plan was to get the 3pm boat for a scenic trip down the fjord and back, before returning to Mallaig. As time ticked closer, I realised I was going to have to decide – visit the most remote pub in Britain or extend a boat trip that made me feel ill by another 45 minutes. I decided to wave goodbye to my better half and wait for the 4:15 pm pick up.
Time to head to the pub – its 3 pm, I’ve waited since 11 am, there are a flock of people waiting outside – the time has come. Unfortunately, when I get there I find that the door won’t open. I ask the nearest person with an “Old Forge Inn” shirt on what is going on, only to be informed that the pub would open at 4 pm!! My boat was going to leave at 4:15 pm! It doesn’t seem meant to be. I joined the rest of the tourists waiting to get into the pub in picking up a bottled beer from the all-purpose village store next door, and drinking it outside the pub for the next hour.
Was this the end of my quest? I decided to steel myself for further disappointment, but at 4 pm the landlord did indeed open his doors and I made sure to be the first person at the bar. I quickly ordered a half pint of their own ale “RemoteNESS”, brewed by the Ness Brewery in Fort Augustus. It had a delicate, light and hoppy flavour and was 3.9%. I gulped it down next to a few girls from Glasgow who were heading off to a Festival from the same ferry I was catching. Below you can see the magnificent view from the pub and the room as I entered (as I said, I made sure I was the first one in!!).
Unfortunately, it all had to end too soon! I only just managed a few sips and the start of a promising chat with the Glaswegian ladies before I looked at my watch to discover it was 4:10 pm. Time to go – Swiftly I finished my pint and bolted down to the ferry to catch my lift back to Mallaig.
If not the remotest pub in Britain, The Old Forge was certainly one of the hardest pubs to get into! I’m still quite confused why the pub doesn’t open earlier, especially given how many people travel over to Knoydart specifically to say they’ve been there. Once they did open their doors though it was certainly worth the effort – a fantastic range of beers behind the bar, beautiful views and plenty of space for dining, drinking and playing pool. Just make sure to work out the boat timings before you head if you want to squeeze in that full pint!