Tuesday, 23 December 2014

An Achateny Walk - 2 - The Clachan

We were - honestly - set on sticking to the road on yesterday's walk, but it was this that drew us off it - the extensive sheep fank to the west of the road used by the shepherds who worked at Achateny Farm.  We had never visited it before, it was close to the road, the ground didn't look too boggy, so we took a look.

It's an impressive structure, built when Achateny Farm was developed some time after the mid-1840s.  Prior to that, all this land was part of Achateny clachan, one of the twenty-or-so traditional settlements scattered across West Ardnamurchan.  This clachan, like so many others, was cleared in the first half of the nineteenth century to make way for the more profitable - from the landlord's point of view - sheep farms.

This was one of the few clachans we hadn't found.  From William Bold's 1806 map, we knew roughly where it was, within the oval on this Bing satellite view, on a low ridge beside the Achateny Water, but we'd never walked the site.  So, boggy or not, we set off to find it.

This picture, taken from Achateny Steading, looks across the Achateny Water to the low, rocky ridge close by the burn on which the clachan once stood....

 ....and this, to our considerable excitement, is the first of the clachan's dwellings we found.  All that's left is the rectangular outline of the stone walls of the house, on a low mound a few metres from the burn, a truly lovely site.  Within minutes....

....we'd found two more, this one on top of the ridge, again consisting of no more than a few rocks where once there would have been a stone-built house.

When the clachan was cleared, probably in the early 1840s, the buildings were destroyed to prevent the people returning, and it's not difficult to see where the rocks that had once formed them went.

As can be seen from the Bing map, there's a high stone wall which runs from the ford just by the Steading to the sea, probably built using the stones from the houses.  The material may also have gone....

....towards building the fine house which the sheep farmer could, by 1866, afford, now one of the letting houses on Ardnamurchan Estate.


  1. Thank you for "taking" us on this lovely walk.

  2. Good Morning, from an avid reader from Slovakia, wishing you and all your followers Veselé Vianoce. My heart breaks for Glasgow. Jimzik

  3. Hi 'Quiet Mornings' - yes, it's a great walk, a fascinating journey back through history. Jon
    Hi Jimzik - Great to know we have someone in Slovakia who follows the Diary - so pleased you enjoy it. Jon