Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Allt Ockle - 1

We set out in good time on Sunday morning with the intention of taking a gentle walk from the tiny settlement of Ockle (population 1) up the valley of the Allt Ockle.  It looked a straightforward enough route, the only obvious problem being the area of woodland to the east of the stream.  With the forestry impenetrable, we would have to decide whether to follow the stream or take a detour round it.

The weather was perfect for brisk walking, bright sunshine with a cool northeasterly.  We parked the car in the little car park at Ockle and walked back to the bridge to take this picture, looking downstream.

We then set off upstream.  This photo looks back to Ockle, with the islands of Eigg and Rum in the distance.  The house, Burnside, is one of Ockle Holidays letting houses, in a perfect spot for wandering this beautiful area.

We opted to stick with the stream to get past the forestry.  While the forestry either side is plantation conifer, the steep valley sides are covered in hazel, silver birch and oak.  There's no path, so we were constantly crossing the burn from one side to the other to make progress, something that wouldn't have been possible but for the prolonged dry spell we've been enjoying.

The trees look ancient.  Ferns grow from forks in the branches, fungi sprout from the trunks, and all are clothed in moss and lichen.

Once clear of the forestry on the eastern side, seen in the distance in this picture which looks back down the valley, the valley opens up, with small meadows through which the burn meanders.  We were sheltered from the wind by the hills, so we walked through bright, warm sunshine.

There's plenty of evidence that all the flat land, however small, in the bottom of the valley was once used agriculturally. Stone walls enclose each patch of land, most of which are now covered in bracken, a sure sign that they were once worked.

About a kilometre beyond the forestry the east side of the valley opens, giving views across to the foothills of Beinn Bhreac. At this point we crossed the stream - yet again - to make faster progress....

....watched by these three stags who, understandably, were very unwilling to move from their peaceful spot in the sun.  As it was, it was the youngest, on the left, who finally decided that the old men should move, leading them briskly away up the hill.

We had come about as far as we had planned, but both weather and setting were so beautiful that we decided to press on, at least in part to investigate what was obviously a man-made a structure marked on the OS map.

An interactive map of the area is here.


  1. Beautiful! Do you do guided walks? Would love to go to some of these places while on holiday, don't have the confidence to do it unguided.

  2. I would love to say ditto to the above message too!

  3. I'm afraid I don't. There is a group called Ardwalks who do energetic walks in various parts of the peninsula. Another group, under the aegis of Step-Up Highland, do much shorter walks in West Ardnamurchan followed by lunch at the Community Centre. I can give you contact addresses for both of these. The only other thing I can suggest is my booklet 'Walks around West Ardnamurchan' which is on sale at most local retailers.