Friday, 8 July 2016

A Walk Round Kilchoan

Yesterday wasn't a day awash with sunshine but that's no reason for not enjoying a long walk, this time around the township of Kilchoan, starting at the old Church of Scotland manse, now Meall mo Chridhe, a restaurant with rooms - it's the orange building at bottom right.

From there, a path leads up hill past St Comghan's church - at bottom left. Parts of this structure make it the oldest stone building on western Ardnamurchan, the east and west gables being dated to the 12th century.

At the top of the hill, as well as good views, there's an old cairn which has been added to in a very modern and colourful way. The stones are painted with....

....brief celebrations of everything from a successful road run to a little philosophy - I particularly like the thought on this one.

The land at the back of the old manse is called the glebe, land given by the community to the minister so he could support himself and his family. The owners of Meall me Chridhe continue the tradition as active farmers, having an extensive fruit and vegetable garden near the house and sheep and cattle grazing on the hill. This dor beetle is doing what all good dung beetles do - helping the farmer by spreading the dung's nutrients across the land.

Over the hill, at the furthest point of the field, the glebe ends against Kilchoan crofting township's common grazings. The wall separating them is probably eighteenth or nineteenth century, but it follows the line of an older wall, just visible beyond the wooden fence.

The glebe wasn't only used by the minister for grazing. Areas of richer soil show the linear ridges of the rig and furrow workings where he grew his crops.

Beyond the wall, the common grazings are rough and boggy moorland, the ideal habitat for sundews. These two round-leaved sundews are in full flower.

Walking northwest leads to the track up to the water works, which can then be followed back to the Sanna road, where one passes the first of Hughie's pig herds.

Coming back into the village one passes Hughie's croft and more of his fine pig herds. This sow, as Hughie described her, is the proud mother of nine and a half piglets, the half being the runt at the centre of the picture, who seems to be doing very well.

The road repair contractors have left a helpful notice warning of the drops off the side of their new tarmac, though I'm not quite sure what a visitor from the continent would make of the sign. The contractors moved east, and have now laid a thick layer of tarmac over the section of road at Ardslignish which is slipping off down the hillside. No-one believes it will last long.

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