Saturday, 26 July 2014

An Ancient Wall

On Monday we set out to walk from the lighthouse road to the lochan just to the west of the Garbh-dhail woods.  It's a lochan we've visited before, but....

....the area we set out to cross was new for us, alternating between low, heather-covered hills which formed a ridge to flat, tussocky and sometimes boggy lower land.  This picture looks south, with Beinn na Seilg in the left distance and the slopes of Beinn nan Ord to the right.

This tree caught our eye.  It's unusual in that it's a lone aspen, a tree which usually propagates these days through suckers rather than by seed - see website here.  Aspens are widely distributed across the world - one particularly thinks of them as a tree of the Rockies - but are only common in Britain in the north and west of Scotland.

This picture shows the northern of the Garbh-dhail woodlands, with Beinn na Seilg in the distance and the burn, the Allt Garbh-dhalach, in the foreground....

...and it was as we were passing near the woodland that we disturbed this red deer hind.  The first time we saw her she had young at heel, but when we saw her again she's left it in hiding.  She kept running away, then stopping and barking at us.  We moved away from her a quickly as possible.

Approaching the lochan we came across this wall, picked out by the vegetation on the slope in front of us.

It's remarkable in that it's obviously old but it's straight - old walls tend to wander, following the topography and convenient large boulders.

It's clearly visible on this satellite photograph, running for some distance across the landscape but appearing to end at the lochan.

Walls like this take a huge amount of hard work to construct, so they were obviously built with an important purpose.  One is therefore left wondering what it was.

A little research produced the answer: it forms part of the long boundary between Ormsaigmore common grazings and those of Grigadale.  This isn't likely to be a wall that was built during crofting times, so it probably dates back to the time when these lands were clachan lands.  It may be several hundreds of years old.
The lochan is best described as being in a shallow bowl of land at the top of a low hill.  It's a wonderfully peaceful spot, somewhere to sit for hours and enjoy the sunshine.  To make it seem even more peaceful, at the nearer, northern end....

....there were water lilies in flower.

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