Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Source of the Allt Eilagadale

Paul Howes' pictures - see today's earlier blog, below - reminded us that the area around Ockle is some of the wildest and most beautiful on Ardnamurchan so, with the temperature working its way above 30C, we set off this morning for the car park by the Ockle Burn. Leaving our car there, we walked up the coast track which leads to Eiligadale and on to Gortenfern. This crosses the Allt Eilagadale some three kilometres on, and our plan was to turn upstream to find its source.

The Ockle track is good going and gives magnificent views along the rugged coast between Ockle and the Singing Sands, and across the sea to Moidart and beyond.  Although it was warm, the steady southeaster brought haze and broken cloud, so the sun came out only intermittently.

Beyond the turn down to the cottage at Eilagadale, the path crosses the Allt Eilagadale, which is where we turned to follow it upstream.  The burn descends through a gentle, wooded glen full of insects - pictures to follow - as it....

....tumbles steeply downhill.  Although for most of its course it is possible to follow the burn closely, at times we had to scramble up the steep sides to work our way round obstacles.

The burn descend steeply for a kilometre or so, but the area which its headwaters drain is relatively flat and open.  This picture looks back down the glen and across to Eigg and Rum on the left, and the Cuillins of Skye towards the right.  That the glen is so straight suggests that the burn may follow a line of weakness in the underlying geology, such as a fault line.

From the 1:25,000 OS map, it can be seen that the headwaters of the burn drain no less than three lochans. This little lochan ('1' on map below) is the first of the sources of the Allt Eilagadale, the one found by following its glen straight up. However, another tributary of the burn is found further up in the hills, and this.... a much larger lochan. Sadly, none of the lochans has a name on the OS map, but this one is close to one of the higher bens on the peninsula, Beinn Bhreac, seen beyond it in this picture.

At the far end of the lochan a small burn can be seen descending into it through an open, grassy glen, so we followed that upstream....

....stopping to look back at the lochan from higher up.  Again, Eigg and Rum can be seen along the hazy horizon to the right, while Muck lies to the left.

The little burn we followed drains a much smaller lochan close under the steep northeastern slope of Beinn Bhreac.  So, I suppose, since this lochan is the furthest from the mouth of the Allt Eilagadale, it is probably, technically, its source.  On the other hand, there's a wee ditch which drains into its further end, so the top of that ditch is, if one could find it, the true source of the Allt Eilagadale.

Although this map doesn't show it, the lochan '1' is connected to the headwaters of the Allt Eilagadale.
An interactive version of this map is here.


  1. At Easter my daughter and I did the walk from Ockle all the way through Gortenfern and on to the car park at Ariveig. We were lucky to have someone to drop us off and collect us at the other end. It took just under 5 hours, not bad for an OAP with dodgy feet! I could send you some photos if it would be of interest.

  2. Hi Joan - Many thanks for the comment. You did well on that walk - there are bits of the path which are fairly rough, and it's a long way. Yes, photos always welcome. Ideally they should be around 500KB for the quality to be good, and should have some text to go with them. Please send them to the Diary address Jon

  3. Hi Jon, The Track from Arivegaig to Ockle is one of my favourite walks, I once walked from Shielbridge early in the morning to Arivegaig and to The Singing Sands on my way to Ockle, had a rest at Saint Finnans Seat, and then to Kilmory and onwards to visit the impressive Branault Standing Stone, past Loch Mudle to Camas- nan- Geall and then to my pick up point at Glenmore. I also love the trek over by Blain to Port a Bhata, another Beautiful place with much to see of the Old settlement. Alan

  4. Hi Alan - Good to hear from you. Walking the way you describe it is certainly one of the great pleasures of this place, and there are just so many places we can go. Jon