Monday, 22 June 2015

Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid

This morning's forecast was for.... sun.... the first real sun for a good six days, so we headed for the hills, leaving the car near Ardnamurchan Estate's lonely Braehouse Cottage on the road to Branault, and set off up the slopes of ridge called Cathair Mhic Dhiarmaid, Diarmid's Son's Seat, initially following a small burn which tumbled down its wooded glen.

This is a walk which we've done before - most memorably in a snowstorm - but which we enjoy for the views.  As we climbed we looked back into the wide valley of the Achateny Water, with the townships of Branault (centre and right) and Kilmory (left distance) clearly visible.  We had ideal walking conditions, with a cool wind in the north, great visibility, and patches of sunshine running across the land.

We climbed diagonally up the eastern slope of the hill, enjoying a wealth of wildflowers, particularly white orchids.  However, looking away to our left the weather didn't look so promising, with the summit of Ben Hiant almost lost in low cloud; and by the time....

....we were approaching the northern end of the ridge the clouds had drawn together to hide the sun completely.  We were now looking almost straight down on the cluster of farm buildings at Achateny, with Kilmory Bay beyond and the mouth of the Achateny Burn at left.  At the bottom the hill below us was the big sheep fank, probably built shortly after the clachan of Achateny was cleared and the land turned over to a sheep run.

Moving steadily round the northern end of the ridge, more and more of the Small Isles came into view.  Eigg is at centre, Rum to the left, and, in the right distance, the Cuillins of Skye.

As we rounded the end of the hill, Fascadale Bay came into view, with Muck beyond, and, lying along the horizon in the distance on the right, Canna.  Almost all the islands seemed to be enjoying the sunshine we'd been promised.

We headed back along the spine of the ridge, reaching its summit cairn, beyond which there is a lochan and the summit of the next ben, Beinn an Leathaid.

Once past the lochan we turned towards the road and a very steep descent, with views of the upper reaches of the Achateny Water, called the Allt an Doire Dharaich - which means something along the lines of the burn of the oak grove - which drains out of Loch Mudle.  At which belated point the sun began to reappear.

An interactive version of this map is here.

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