Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Woodland of the Allt Choire Mhuilinn

It's not unusual for us to set off on a walk with a particular objective and then find we do something rather different. This morning, starting optimistically in a brief moment of sunshine, we set off to explore the land to the south of the straight section along the Kilchoan road just before it enters the village (see map at bottom of post) but we ended up spending most of our time wandering slowly down the lower course of the Allt Choire Mhuilinn.

The burn's name comes from the clachan, Choire Mhuilinn, which once thrived on its eastern bank close to its mouth. Choire means corrie, and mhuilinn means mill. Although the mill race no longer exists and the mill building is no more than a grassy mound, this burn must have provided the motive power for the mill.

For most of its upper course this lovely little burn wanders through open country, then into a shallow glen which runs almost parallel to the Kilchoan road. As it passes the silage storage area it isincreasingly hemmed in by trees, but then it suddenly....

....plunges over an impressive waterfall and for the rest of its course....

....runs at the bottom of a steep gorge. The gorge itself and the land on either side is thickly clothed with deciduous woodland, the dominant tree being oak, and much of it shows every sign of being old, with very little new growth.

I don't like walking in woodland, feeling enclosed, hemmed in by it, but wandering through these openly-spaced trees was a pleasure. After the brief flash of sunshine when we started, the day reverted to grey, so the woodland wasn't at its best. In summer, this walk will be a joy.

Some sections of the burn are straight, while in others....

....the burn almost disappears from sight as it undercuts the already steep banks. Everywhere, the trees lean across it, turning the glen into a tunnel.

As can be seen in earlier pictures, many of the trunks and larger branches of these trees are thickly covered with moss, and within this carpet small ferns grow.

About half a kilometre from its mouth, a high wall - probably 19th century - and sections of fencing bar further progress towards the sea. There is a gate, but we chose to climb out of the glen and walk west along the ridge, from which there....

....were views eastwards towards Maclean's Nose and the Marine Harvest fish farm, lit by what turned out to be the last sun of the day. By this time the southeasterly wind was brisk, gusting to force 7 along the tops, with occasional flurries of rain, but high above us....

....a juvenile sea eagle soared, frequently harried by buzzards, hoodies and ravens. The object of their interest was to be found in one of the boggy sections as we headed back to the road - another blackface sheep dead in a morass of mud.

Map courtesy Bing Maps.

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