NO pint is more satisfying than the one properly arrived at, and no pub more welcome than the one that comes at the end of a long journey. That’s part of the appeal of the Old Forge at Inverie – the challenge of getting there. The most remote pub on mainland Britain – according to the Guinness Book of Records – even when arrived at the easy way, boat from Mallaig, involves some travel. Those that take the land-passage, the long two-day walk, can feel they truly deserve their pint.

The Old Forge has long been a bucket-list pub, not just because of its Guinness claim to fame, but because this was an inn with atmosphere, the kind of place you could pitch up and find someone pull down a fiddle from the wall and start playing, a pub where anything could happen. I visited it myself, around 20 years ago, when it was run by Ian and Jackie Robertson, coming in the easy way, by boat, because my then boyfriend happened to have a proper sea-dog of a father. Someone played the fiddle all night.

But a pub isn’t just a place for visitors to arrive at, it’s a local for those that live there, a place for people to work, the heart of a community. And it became clear that the Old Forge wasn’t doing that job when, in 2018, locals shunned it and set up their own alternative drinking hole, housed in a shed across the road. Tensions has been rising. One of their complaints was that the pub was closed during the winter season, just when such a community hub was needed most.

Earlier this year, current owner, Belgian John-Pierre Robinet, announced his decision to sell up, citing Covid and Brexit as reasons. When it went up for sale for £425,000, locals gathered together to form The Old Forge Community Benefit Society and organise to bring it under community ownership “for the benefit of all patrons and pub lovers”. A Crowdfunder is due to be launched in July.

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This is a community that already knows a thing or two about fighting for ownership. This bid is part of a long saga in the area and a history that has included some of the most notorious events in the Highland clearances.

In 1852 four hundred of the inhabitants were given notice of eviction for the following year and offered passages overseas by the owners who wanted to use the land for sheep farming. 11 families refused to go and saw their homes destroyed, leaving them without shelter. "From house to house,” wrote an eye witness, “from hut to hut, and from barn to barn, the factor and his menials proceeded, carrying on the work of demolition, until there was scarcely a human habitation left standing in the district.”

Centuries later, in 1999, the community of much of the land, but the path to that was long and rocky, and included the failed attempt by the Seven Men of Knoydart to take some land back.

Ownership of the pub could be said to be a missing link. It’s like owning a community's heart, or even its central nervous system. Locals have been saying it matters. A pub is about its people. It's where community is forged.