Sunday, 2 June 2013

Old Footpaths

At one time a network of footpaths criss-crossed West Ardnamurchan, as shown on this OS 1" Popular map of 1945-47.  Some were more than just paths, they were tracks that could accommodate a pony and cart, such as the track that ran from near Achnaha to Plocaig.  Many of these paths are virtually lost, except to people like Alistair, who has found real pleasure in trying to retrace them.

Alistair, who sent The Diary a copy of the old OS map, writes, "Your blog, which I have been following for about a year, really helped with planning our holiday at Achosnich last week and consequently making it more enjoyable. Loved the walk through Bealach Ruaidh which you have mentioned and is quite clear and waymarked though not on the current OS map.

"I tried to follow the other old route from the Achosnich schoolhouse to Portuairk and did manage that too. It is less distinct, features a dodgy bridge and some possibly erroneous waymarkers, but a nice wander. This picture shows the bridge which is at about NM444678. The path seems to cross over to the west side of the river here but there is a waymarker further along on the east side towards Portuairk (circled red). No success finding the path marked on my old map which is supposed to run from the old schoolhouse up to the road near the Sonachan Hotel.

"I also noted the old path link from the Achosnich schoolhouse up to the Sanna Bay path has been remade."  It has.  We walked the new path the other day, and it's certainly an improvement on the old one, which was, in places, difficult to follow.

The neatest features are the little gullies than have been stone-lined, allowing flood water to run across the path without eroding it.  But the surface of the path is little more than beaten earth, so it'll be interesting to see how it survives after a winter's heavy rain.
The north end of this path joins the track from Sanna to Portuairk.  Anyone who has walked this one knows what dreadful condition parts of it are in - this shows the drop down to Sanna, and the rather steeper part towards Portuairk is even more severely eroded.

Alistair adds, "Surprisingly poor accuracy of the current OS maps – I suppose they don’t actually go out and check features these days."

Many thanks to Alistair for photos and for writing to The Diary.

1 comment:

  1. Nice pictures. My father and uncle built that "dodgy bridge" before i was born, (i'm 39) so i think it's amazing its still standing. It once linked two paths, one of which ran to Portuairk, the other following the burn in the picture down to the sea. These paths existed thanks to the efforts of the local sheep more than anyone else, and seem to have fallen into disuse. The new path to Sanna is very welcome, but like you, i wonder how it will stand up to a couple of winters. The old waymarkers seemed to be a constant source of confusion to any walkers, the new route is much more practical.