If you want to nip to the pub in Inverie, on Scotland’s Knoydart Peninsula in Lochaber, you’ll need your walking boots. The Old Forge is the remotest on mainland Britain, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
The single storey building started life in 1880 as the smithy’s forge and was then turned into a workers’ social club, which in turn became the pub, serving a local community of around 110 people and the area’s visitors. It offers a panoramic view of Inverie Bay and Loch Nevis, on-site accommodation, a varied menu and music nights, including Classic Rock Concert Weekends, guest bands and the occasional ceilidh.
Despite its popularity, the pub was put on the market in early 2021 with an asking price in excess of £425,000.
Never fear – this community is used to making things happen. In the mid-19th century, much of the surrounding land was cleared of crofters to make way for livestock. Seven of the crofters launched a land raid in 1948 in a bid to live independently from the landlord but were unsuccessful. However, in 1999, the community’s Knoydart Foundation successfully campaigned to buy 17,200 acres of estate land for £750,000.
Determined to keep the pub open, 70 members of the community held a consultation with a view to a community buyout and the Old Forge Community Society was borne.
The society launched a community share offer with a target of £240,000. Only 75% of the shares could be bought by locals, and a limited number could be owned by people living away from the local area. The society applied for further funding from the Scottish Land Fund, which provides government funded grants of up to £1 million for community and volunteer-run projects.
The society has now learned that it has won £508,000 from the fund. The money doesn’t mean the society will be the winning bidder for the property, but is certainly a step in the right direction.
Despite its remoteness, there are several ways to get to there, the easiest of which is the ferry from Mallaig which takes 30-45 minutes, with the added benefits of toilets and a bar.
You can travel part of the way by car, except that there are no roads in or out of the village. The locals park their cars at a car park in Mallaig, which lies at the end of the A380, an hour or more from Fort William which is four hours from Glasgow. They then get the ferry.
Walking is possible, although not for the faint-hearted, and the 18 mile journey across four Munros (mountains over 3,000 ft) as well as other peaks might slow anyone but the most intrepid walker down a bit.
If you have a yacht, you might pop it into one of the pub’s private moorings located seven nautical miles from Mallaig. A dinghy can then bring you to the beach directly in front of the pub or there is an all-weather, non-tidal pier. Sea Kayaks and canoes also welcome.
Your helicopter (if you haven’t got one, you can hire one) can land directly in front of the pub or you could book a seaplane for private charter.
But is it worth it? The Olde Forge was named in the Six Best Highland Pubs by Scotsman Food and Drink in 2017. Prior to this, it was nominated for the Sunday Daily Mail Best Pub of the Year Award in 2012, received a ‘commended’ in 2012 from the Scottish Food Guide and was voted in the Top 100 Pubs in the UK by the Telegraph in 2011. Oddly, it was named ‘No.2 Sexy Restaurant’ in the Top 60 Sexy Places to Eat and Drink by The Times in 2011. The list goes on, and the pub has received accolades going at least as far back as 2001.