Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tom Mhic Iain

The weather remains fine, so we were off in the hills again this morning, with today's objective the small, grassy hilltop on the right of this picture, Tom MacIain, MacIain's Knoll; the lochan below it is called Lochan Tom MacIain.  The MacIains were the clan who held Ardnamurchan and Mingary Castle from some time early in the 14th century until approximately 1633, over 300 years.

This little hill must have been very important to them, as little else locally is named after the clan, but there's no written evidence, and nothing on its rather bald, flat-topped summit to give us a clue as to why it carries their name.  One thing can be said about it: it's a fine defensive position, with a steep slope on all sides and....

....magnificent views all round.  Here we're looking south, across the valley of the Allt Choire Mhuillinn which leads down to the castle.  In the distance lies Mull, with Beinn Talaidh to the left and Beinn Mhor to the right with its summit lost in cloud.  As can be seen, it wasn't all blue skies - the clouds were moving quickly, with a brisk and chilly easterly wind behind them.

This view is to the southeast, looking straight across at Beinn Shianta. The little burn that can be seen both in the middle ground and to top left, where it drains the open glen between Beinn Shianta and Beinn na h-Urchrach, is the Allt nan Gabhar, the stream of the goat.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk, made memorable by the appearance of a pair of red grouse.  They didn't fly off immediately, watching warily until they suddenly took off - and it's then that one appreciates why they are so favoured by sportsmen, as they travelled, against the wind, at the speed of two bullets.

As if the grouse weren't enough, in a warm, sheltered corner of a narrow ravine we saw the first wild primroses of the year.

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