Friday, 21 June 2013

The Wrong Burn

Last Wednesday we set off from Fascadale, on another disappointingly grey day, to follow the burn called Allt a Choire Chreagaich to its source.  The route, as seen on the OS map, isn't difficult but....

....we still managed to go wrong.  We crossed the Allt Fascadale, climbed up through the woodland, and began to follow the burn uphill, but it's joined by two tributaries and somehow, inexplicably and embarrassingly, we followed one of the tributaries.

The one we chose wasn't the most exciting of burns, following a fairly straight course across the eastern flank of the circular ridge formed by the great ring dykes of the Ardnamurchan volcano.  However, compared to our walk on Monday (here), the going was much less heavy.

As with so many of the burns that drain the open, high land of this peninsula, this little burn supports what little tree life there is - mainly rowan and birch, with occasional other trees and shrubs such as oak and holly.  That the trees are confined to the valleys is puzzling.  The received wisdom is that there are no trees on the higher land because they're all strangled at birth by wicked sheep and deer - yet those beasts allow them to grow in the narrow glens.

As the burn became smaller and smaller we began to think that we had gone wrong.  Despite this, we continued to follow it until it petered out in a small hollow.

We carry a GPS machine kindly loaned to us by Tom Bryson at Craigard Croft, but we only use it to find accurate grid references for archaeological sites and in case of emergency.  This wasn't exactly an emergency but, to save any further red faces, we sat down and turned it on.  We were several hundred metres to the east of where we were supposed to be, on the stream which is shown on the map between the Allt a Choire Chreagaich and the Allt Fascadale.  The situation was easily remedied: having admired the first of this year's ling flowers, we turned west and walked up over the ridge to where we were supposed to be.

As we reached our destination an eagle rose and flew off around the peak of Meall nan Con, pursued by an angry crow.

The Allt a Choire Chreagaich rises in the nearer of these two small lochans, neither of which, sadly, have names on the map - though the area is called Coire Creagach, the rocky corrie.  The nearer of the two is shallow and covered with what we thought were lilly pads - until we walked down to its shore and recognised the flowers of the bogbean.  Having met bogbean for the first time on Monday's walk, and having had it identified for us by Diary readers, we were thrilled, as it's a very pretty and delicate flower.  To add to our pleasure, the damp land around the lochan was home to a several varieties of orchid.

Having taken a short rest, we turned back, this time following the right burn.  The distant sea was covered with a murky haze, obscuring what is usually a wonderful view across the Minches to Skye, Rum, Eigg, Muck and beyond.  At one point there is a large erratic perched so precariously on the steep side of the valley that it looks as if a slight push would send it crashing down.

This is the point where the right burn branches off from the wrong burn, where we should have turned right, not left.  If that makes sense.

The walk took 2.5 hours.
The cottages at Fascadale are available for rent though Ardnamurchan Estate.
An interactive map of the area is here.

No comments:

Post a Comment