Sunday, 18 August 2013

Glen Drian

We set off on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago to explore the middle section of the valley of the Allt Mhic Cailein, 'the burn of Colin's son', a stream whose course, on the OS map, is marked as occupying Glen Drian, 'the valley of thorns'.  This is also the name of the abandoned village - see its history here - which is, in fact, on the other side of some low hills from the glen.

We left the car on the Sanna road just beyond the township of Achnaha, and walked across the flat land to the south of the distinctive hill Meall Clach an Daraich, until we met the rough track that leads from Glendrian village to the north coast.  We then turned southeast to follow the stream.

Along this section, the Allt Mhic Cailein looks little more than a farm ditch surrounded by flat meadow land, but the walking is fairly heavy through the clumps of grass.  It's also, by our standards, pretty dull going, until....

 ....the course of the burn cuts its way through a low ridge in a series of rocky falls and rapids.

Just above this we came upon the first signs of human occupation of this now deserted scenery - the field occupying the small depression towards the top right of the picture.  The land there showed the characteristic pattern of lazy beds, and a small wall bounded the bottom end, just by the burn.  One can only guess that this was once used by a resident of Glendrian village, here about a kilometre away.

Shortly afterwards, we came to a confluence, where the Allt Coire na Rainich, 'the stream of fern corrie', comes in from the east.  Just to the right of the point where they meet there's a stone wall and, below the bluff, signs of a small shieling hut.

Above here, the Allt Mhic Cailein becomes a deep ditch again, into which the Diary, in attempting to step across it, fell, ending up with no more than the top of a head showing above the heather.  We don't often fall on these walks, but in some ways such an accident is a good thing, reminding us that we always have to be prepared for much worse.

We continued, with little damage except to our pride.  About a kilometre on, we stopped and looked back.  By this time we were seeing plenty of signs of human workings, including a walled field (top left) and substantial boundary walls, such as the one running diagonally from bottom left to top right across this picture.  All are some distance from Glendrian township and must, surely, be evidence of an age when this area supported a far larger population than that reported in the first censuses.

The source of the Allt Mhic Cailein lies high in the slopes of Meall Meadhoin, 'the middle hill'.  By this time, hard walking and wet boots had worn us out, so we didn't complete the climb up the last, steep section of glen.  Instead, we turned west and returned to the Sanna road via the track to Glendrian village.

The area is Ardnamurchan Estate land.
An interactive map of the area is here.

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