Knoydart peninsula named ‘last great wilderness’

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A FAMOUSLY remote part of the West Highlands has been named one of the world’s “last great wilderness areas.”

CNN Travel handed the honour to the Knoydart peninsula just months after saying Scotland was the world’s number one travel destination this year.

Knoydart, which has a population of around 100, is completely cut-off from mainland Britain and is only accessible via boat from Mallaig, at the end of the West Highland Railway Line, or via a 16-mile trek from the nearest road.

It was named second on the list, after the Tarkine Rainforest, in Tasmania, and ahead of areas in the Himalayas, the Namib desert in Africa and the west coast of Sweden.

Knoydart, which saw a community buy-out take place in 1999, has just one settlement, Inverie, where around half the inhabitants live. The 55,000-acre area is home to Britain’s most remote pub on mainland Britain, The Old Forge, which is a magnet for sailors and musicians.

The earlier honour by CNN Travel was hailed by tourism leaders as a major boost for the “Year of Natural Scotland” campaign, after it was cited by the website as one of the main reasons to visit the country this year.

However the organisers of the Knoydart Music Festival had hit out after being turned down for “Natural Scotland” funding for the event, which has since been declared a sell-out just a few days after tickets were put up for grabs.

CNN Travel said: “Rugged, isolated and beautiful Knoydart Peninsula is often described as Scotland’s last wilderness. Tucked in the Highlands, it’s accessible only by boat or on foot.

“The journey is worth the effort: There are exhilarating mountain passes to cross and sandy inlets to explore.

“Whether they have soaked in epic sunsets or caught glimpses of the whales, dolphins and porpoises that live in its waters, visitors usually leave feeling spiritually restored.”

Mike Cantlay, VisitScotland’s chairman said: “This is a tremendous accolade for Knoydart and helps firmly position Scotland on the global map. 2013 is a massive year for Scotland with a plethora of things to see and do and a host of events to participate in across the country, all under the banner of Year of Natural Scotland.

“Throughout 2013 we must capitalise on successes such as this and position the peerless majesty and magnificence of natural Scotland on the world stage. Endorsements such as this really help to secure Scotland’s leading position as a must-visit, must-return tourist destination.”