Monday, 4 May 2015

Allt Ockle Walk - 2

We walked to the west of Ormsaigbeg this morning on a day which has delivered yet another contrast in weather.  A week ago we were enduring snow, sleet and hail brought in on a bitter northeasterly, with a day's maximum of 9C.  Yesterday saw the wind round in the southeast, gusting to force six, and miserably grey skies, and now we're in a westerly Atlantic airstream, warm with occasional showers.  Sandwiched into this mixture we remember Friday, when we walked up the Ockle glen on a beautiful late spring day.... good that we did what we shouldn't do, which was to keep going further than we intended, almost to the point of exhaustion.

Near the source of the Allt Ockle there's this walled enclosure which we've always taken to be an animal pen or 'fank'. Usually structures like this are associated with the sheep farms which were created after the clearances but, as far as I know, Ockle remained a crofting village long after the clearances, so this must belong to Glen More.

We should, at that point, have turned back, but a nearby lochan which we'd never visited tempted us on.  Crossing the burn, we came across this stag, grazing peacefully but looking a little sorry for himself with his one antler.  The grazing must still be poor for the deer with the spring so late coming, and the wildflowers are still limited to celandine, violets and primroses.

At the watershed where the headwaters of the Allt Ockle give way to burns which feed south into the Glenmore River, the forestry to the west falls back.  Climbing a ridge gives this view, looking across the un-named lochan to which we were headed to Ben Hiant and, to its right, Beinn na h-Urchrach.

At this point we turned back, returning to Ockle by following close along the Ockle burn. In the upper part of its course, the burn runs in an open valley but....

....further down the valley sides steepen and the amount of woodland - mostly birch - increases.

Still further downstream the burn has cut a steep-sided ravine, its sides choked with trees, so one can only make progress by climbing the side of the valley.....

....from which one can just see Ockle, with Eigg beyond.

Approaching Ockle, this more recently abandoned croft house is evidence of the continuing decline in the area's population, so Ockle now has a permanent population of only one.

The walk took 4.5 hours.


  1. Hi Jon &Gill, that alt ockle walk is one of my favourites, I have gone right through to Glen More, agreed can be a bit of a slog, especially if the burns in spate. Would the sheep pen be a resting stop for the drovers going to Drimnin? It is next to what remains of the old path.

  2. Hi Paul - Yes, it could have been used by drovers, but it seems unlikely to me that such a substantial structure would have been built by them. It also has some small features within the walls which aren't easily explainable if it's just a holding pen. Jon

    1. Thanks Jon, will take a closer look in a couple of weeks. By the way there is a route between the pines and alt Ockle to the east side of the burn.Coming back to Ockle it follows the east side then crosses the burn and follows the estate fence line until you cross the burn again into the grazings.But... its a long way down if you slip!!!!!

    2. Hi Paul - Yes, we finally found it last week. But, as you say, what a super walk. Jon