Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Old Road to Kilchoan

The original approach by land into Kilchoan didn't follow the great loop to the north that the present road takes. After Camas nan Geall it followed the present road for about a mile, then broke away northwards just after the bridge at NM556626 to skirt the eastern flank of 'The Basin', a bowl-shaped area of open land. It then re-crossed the existing road at the 6 mile post, before climbing steeply due westwards along the dark, northern flank of Beinn na h-Urchrach. Today its route is scarcely visible as it clings to the steep slope, though it can just be seen to the left of the above photograph.

Having topped the rise, it then drops down towards Caim, passing the site of the clachan of Skinid, one of the settlements which was cleared during the first half of the 19th century. Little of Skinid is visible today except the rectangular stone outlines of about five houses and some broken agricultural walls. The photograph above looks roughly eastwards, back towards Beinn na h-Urchrach.

One of the pleasures of walking this track is the views it offers at its highest point, from Mingary Castle on the left across Kilchoan and Kilchoan Bay to Ormsaigbeg. The straight section of road that leads into the village that can be seen just to right of centre is a continuation of the original track.

The Diary doesn't know when the old road was abandoned in favour of the new, but it probably coincided with the advent of the motor car. When the telegraph came to Kilchoan, the line followed the old road - some of the posts still lie beside it - and Dochie Cameron can remember meeting one of the linesmen on a motorbike along the track.

A map of the route is here.

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