Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Allt Ockle - 2

As described in an earlier post, here, we hadn't intended to walk too far up the Allt Ockle, but the warmth of the valley, the continuing bright sunshine, and the utter peacefulness of the place tempted us on.

We reached the structure marked on the OS map, to find that it was a large sheep fold divided into three sections.  The one at right of the picture, the smallest, looked as if it served as a shelter for the men who cared for the animals, perhaps sheep, which once grazed this valley.

We had come far enough, but....  Looking at the OS map, we saw that we could follow a tributary of the Allt Ockle up to a lochan, Lochan Coire Mhaim, a hundred metres above us in the broken land formed by ancient Moine metamorphic rocks.  It was tempting.  We succumbed.  This picture shows the view back down the valley of the Allt Ockle as we climbed - Eigg and Rum are in the distance.

The view away to the east remained cut off by higher hills, but the countryside to the west opened out before us.  This picture looks southwestwards to Ben Hiant, left, and Beinn na h-Urchrach....

....while this one looks northwestwards, across Lochan nan Sioman to the long ridge of Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid.

Lochan Coire Mhaim was quite beautiful, a bright blue stretch of water caught between rugged outcrops of ancient metamorphic rock.  It might have felt as if we stood on the roof of the world, but up here we were exposed to the full blast of the northeasterly wind, with a wind chill that probably dropped the temperature below zero.  However, it was warm enough in the lee of a large rock to eat a hasty lunch before we set off at a brisk pace downhill, back into the shelter of the valley.

We walked back along the eastern side of the valley, through areas which were criss-crossed by substantial stone walls.  In places we stumbled across the remains of small houses, the dwelling places of the farmers who had once worked this valley.  At the time the population must have been large - why else would they have gone up there to work what must be very marginal land?

We skirted above the forestry, passing this great erratic dropped by the ice some 10,000 years ago, before descending to Ockle and the car.

We don't seem to be able to control our urge to explore beyond our energy levels.  We were exhausted - but it was well worth it.

An interactive map of the area is here.


  1. You take some awesome photos, esp the second one in this entry.

  2. Hi jon, glad you finally did the alt ockle route march, bit steep at end! and a lovely climb up waterfall. Looks a bit browner than when I did it end August. Keep up the superb wok on the blog site always makes me believe I'm there.

  3. I really fancy fishing some of those lochans - even the smaller ones often have fish. Lochan Coire Mhaim looks really tempting. I bet a loch like that gets fished maybe only once every 10 years, if that.

  4. I love seeing your walks and the photos you take on them. Would it be possible for you to produce a leaflet of some of the walks to be sold at Kilchoan Stores? You could become the Wainwright of Ardnamurchan!

    Seriously, a lot of your walks start from places we've been past, or near, without realising those were the places to set off from; perusing the OS maps doesn't match someone's knowledge of the actual terrain.

  5. Many thanks for the comments.

    The photos are courtesy of a wonderful camera and lovely weather. There are times when I get home and look at the pictures after a day like that and don't believe what I see.

    Yes, Paul, a really great walk, and one which you suggested - for which I'm very grateful. Trouble is, as you know, it leads on to so many more...

    I have one booklet for sale in most outlets round Ardnamurchan called 'Walks around West Ardnamurchan', which are mostly to go to historical places. It would be difficult to do another as I always feel that the best walks are when one just sets off into the blue - which, in a way, is what we did on this walk above Ockle - with an OS map in hand.

  6. Jon, The old fank in the first picture is known as "The Duke's Fank" but Dochie says "don't ask him which Duke"

  7. I did this walk last year but went all the way across to Glenborodale, along forestry fence then down track. Took a while but great views in the valley.