Sunday, 12 September 2010


Scattered across West Ardnamurchan are settlements which have died. All that remains are the outlines of fields, patches of bracken which have swamped the better land, and the occasional broken walls of what was once someone's home.

Reidh-dhail, above, is an example of one of the many small ones. It lies some four kilometres to the west of Kilchoan, about half way round to the Lighthouse and a kilometre inland from An Acairseid, the port that used to serve it. In the photograph, the worked land is clearly visible, the best, well-drained land, on the slope to the right, marked out by invasive bracken. There is also boggier but drained land to the left, through which a small stream makes its way.

Even in its heyday it would have been an insignificant place, a clachan, a small settlement of a few houses with no facilities, working marginal agricultural land. From the evidence on the ground, the OS and Google Maps, it boasted five stone buildings and perhaps four hectares of improved land. Even the buildings are small, the one shown, the most easterly, almost lost under bracken, cannot have measured more than 5m by 3m.

It has been suggested that, after it had been abandoned as a permanent settlement, Kilchoan crofters used it as a sheiling, a place where stock, such as the milking cows, were taken during the summer months, accompanied by the women and younger children - more about sheilings here.

To reach Reidh-dhail is a hard, one-and-a-half hour walk from Ormsaigbeg, diagonally up the slope of Druim na Gearr Leacainn and then into the broken land around Dubh Chreag, the black crag. Wherever one goes, Beinn na Seilg towers above. Along the way is this small, shallow lochan, un-named on the OS map. It's a wonderful, lonely walk through fierce scenery, one's only company the pippets put up from amongst the heather. If life in Reidh-dhail was hard, as it must have been, its setting is simply beautiful.

A map of the area is here.


  1. Wow. I've done this walk too. It's hard going but rewarding and the loch is very beautiful and a good place for lunch.

    Keep you eyes to the skies. I've seen hen harrier, peregrine falcons, golden eagle, and sea eagle in this area.

  2. Great to see this article.

    I have been fascinated by this little settlement since I walked through it on the way from Kilchoan to the Lighthouse about 15 years ago.

    I'd love to know more about its history.

    Dave King