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Hopping into the car after a morning hike through Glencoe’s Lost Valley, we hit the road and headed further north. Approaching the southern point of Loch Lochy, we turn into a road signposted as a dead end. 

A man looks out to the mountains of Loch Arkaig with his Og backpack

However, this dead end road actually carries on for over 20 kilometres, taking you up the west side of Loch Lochy, and bending round to follow the north shore of Loch Arkaig. After turning away from Loch Lochy, the road takes you through Mile Dorcha (Dark Mile), which winds its way through a stunning, dense forest.

The peaks of mountains showing behind Loch Arkaig

Emerging from the trees, you pass a thundering waterfall on the right; Eas Chia-aig. Loch Arkaig makes an appearance to the left, seemingly stretching out forever. The vast, glassy loch provides the perfect mirror for the reflections of the surrounding snow capped mountains, standing tall and proud against the approaching stormy Scottish skies.

Shimmering water of Loch Arkaig reflecting back snow covered peaks in the distance

Arkaig is full of secrets; in 1746, six caskets of gold were unloaded in Arisaig, brought to Loch Arkaig and hidden by the Jacobites. Almost three centuries on, it’s yet to be found, but that doesn’t stop people from continuing to search for it. It is said that one bag is placed under a rock on the shores of Arisaig, but nothing has been found in either location.

A stag stares nonchalantly at the camera on the shores of Loch Arkaig

The further along the road you travel, the more remote it becomes. The pebbled shores provide the perfect spot for an evening campfire and a night under the stars, but you may find the morning brings some guests; the reward of driving the length of Loch Arkaig is passing through the land of the stags. These beautiful beasts are friendly enough, but do remember that you’re in their territory, not the other way round. Respect them and their land, and they’ll keep their distance.

Pack up your tent and your camera, it’s time to head to Loch Arkaig. Will you be the one to find the lost treasure?

Words and beautiful images by Kate Johnston, a freelance photographer based in Edinburgh

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