Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Road to Fascadale

After two days of almost incessant rain which produced a total of 65mm in the rain gauge, today the sun reappeared, a watery and somewhat embarrassed sun which was continually harassed by clouds and sudden showers.

With the ground so saturated we abandoned ideas of walking in the hills, instead taking the car into the wide glen of the Achateny Burn. Leaving it just beyond the fork that takes the road to Branault and Ockle, we followed the road that leads to Achateny and on to Fascadale.

A strong and cold westerly continued to push showers, some of hail, across the hills, producing the occasional bright rainbow. This picture looks across the glen to the small crofting township of Branault.

Achateny is sited where the Achateny Burn enters the sea.  Once a clachan, it was cleared for a sheep farm. Today there are modern barns which are part of Ardnamurchan Estate's farming operation, and two letting houses, Achateny Cottage, in the picture, and the larger Achateny House, once the home of the sheep farm owner.

Looking east beyond Achateny and the adjacent township of Branault, the mountains around Moidart were capped with snow.

The section of road between Achateny and Fascadale runs through birch woodland. Some of the trees are festooned with deformed masses of twigs, the so-called 'witches' broom', a growth at points where the tree has been under stress. The stress can be caused by a variety of things, from insects to fungi and viruses. One notices that some of the trees have up to a dozen of these growths, while most have none.

The recent hard weather meant that we saw little in the way of birds or beasts, but as we approached Fascadale we disturbed two stags which had been resting below the road. They headed for the hills, jumping a fence and crossing the road in front of us.

As we approached Fascadale we were caught in the only heavy rain of the walk, which cleared quickly to allow the sun to pick out Fascadale Cottage, another of the Estate's letting houses, and the whitecapped waters of the Minch beyond. The island to the right of the cottage is Muck, and the hill to the left is Meall Buidhe Mor.

Ardnamurchan Estate's cottages can be viewed here.

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