Monday, 14 April 2014

Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid

Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid means MacDiarmid's Seat, and the name is marked on the 1:25,000 OS map to indicate it's the ridge which runs between the heights of Meall nan Con, at 437m West Ardnamurchan's second highest peak, and the valley of the Achateny Water.  On this map, courtesy Streetmap, the name seems to mark the north end of the ridge.

We walked to it on Friday morning, when the weather was supposed to be fairly bright before a front came across in the afternoon, but as we left our car at the Cairn, the turn down to Achateny, Kilmory and Ockle, it had already rained. Picture shows Ben Hiant, 528m, with its peak in the cloud, and Beinn nan Losgann.

We approached Cathair Mhic Dhiarmid from the south, which means downhill from the summit of Beinn an Leathaid.  Here there's what must be the biggest cairn in the area.  Since it's not a spectacular hill to climb, being steep on most sides and very open and bare on top, this must mean people climb it for the views.

Looking southeast, the B8007 is just visible as it turns towards Loch Mudle.  Beyond, in the woods, is the smaller Lochan a' MhaDaidh Riabaich, and beyond that the heights of Beinn Bhuidhe, while.... the north we looked down on the location of Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid.  The knoll beyond the lochan has a small cairn on it, and from the Streetmap map it looks as if the name Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid may refer to the knoll.  The lochan isn't named on the OS map, but the tiny burn that leaves its nearer end and flows down the east face of Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid does have a name, Allt Loisgte, the burnt burn, so perhaps it's Lochan Loisgte.  In the distance, through the haze, is Eigg, and.... this picture, which looks further round to the northwest, down the glen of the Allt Fascadale, the distant island is Muck.

There are still MacDiarmids living on West Ardnamurchan, and it's a common name in the historical records, but this ridge was probably named hundreds of years ago, and one does wonder who it was named after.  It's a beautiful spot, very remote, and with wonderful views, particularly from....

....this large rock which is just out of shot to the right in the previous picture, from which there are views for miles along Ardnamurchan's north coast.  The rock is an erratic, dumped here over 10,000 years ago by the glacier which covered the area.  The cup-shaped depression in its top looks as if it's been made for a seat, so perhaps this is the cathair, rather than either the ridge or the knoll.

The furthest point of our walk was the much smaller cairn on the knoll to the north of the lochan.  This picture looks back the way we came, with the summit of Beinn an Leathaid in the centre on the skyline.  By this time the wind was building, suggesting that the front forecast for the afternoon was coming in, so we walked back to the car along the valley to the west of Beinn an Leathaid.

There's an interactive version of the map here.

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