Friday, 12 April 2013

Beinn an Leathaid

We've walked to the top of Beinn an Leathaid several times, but we've never explored the natural ledge which runs along the eastern slope of the hill, an omission we rectified on a brisk March morning.

Once on the ledge we stopped to look back.  The valley below is formed by the Achateny Water, a burn which drains from Loch Mudle, just seen in the distance.  Much of this area shows signs of having been worked agriculturally, but all the evidence suggests that these are old workings, at least pre-1806.

It was a beautifully bright day and warm in the sun but the temperature, in the easterly wind, couldn't have been much above zero; so what little run-off was trying to come down the hill had been frozen in its tracks.

About half way along the ledge we came across this small piece of aluminium.  It's not much to look at but it's evidence of a tragedy that happened some twenty-five years ago, when a Cessna cargo 'plane carrying shellfish from Benbecula to Glasgow crashed into the side of Beinn an Leathaid, killing the pilot.  We've looked for the crash site before - there's supposed to be some wreckage, see link here - but this is the first time we've found anything.

We kept going along the hillside until we came to a small burn which had carved a surprisingly deep gorge into the side of the hill.  We followed it down, crossed the Kilmory road, and turned back towards the car.

This took us along the floor of the valley of the Achateny Water, passing below this lonely little cottage, the Braehouse, which is one of Ardnamurchan Estate's letting houses.  Usually, this valley abounds in red deer but that day we saw none - plenty of sheep, though.

Evidence of the past agricultural workings include these walls.  They're very substantial structures, often including stones which must have been very heavy to move.  A huge amount of labour, over long periods of time, must have gone into their construction.  They were probably topped with blocks of peat.  This particular wall is at the top of the valley, and separated the worked land, on the right, from the rough grazing.

With no bracken, dry going underfoot, and relatively few areas of thick heather, this was a relatively gentle and easy walk.

An interactive version of this map is here.

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