Monday, 22 August 2016

The Track along the Basin's Eastern Side

We had a choice yesterday between returning directly to the car across the high land around Beinn Bhuidhe or descending to the road and then branching off it to follow the old track which used to connect Camas nan Geall with Kilchoan. It follows the base of the Basin's eastern scarp (at right in this picture), so forks off the present road before it descends to the bridge over the Allt Torr na Moine.

We are very fortunate in having Bald's excellent 1806 map of the area, which clearly shows the old track running along the eastern side of Camas nan Geall clachan's fields - marked in blue - and close against the scarp, marked in grey. In those days, Camas nan Geall's land extended north as far as Loch Mudle. I have marked in the approximate route of the present road. Note that where the road rejoins the old track before running north to Loch Mudle, the old track turns sharply left and runs almost due west to Kilchoan beneath the northern flank of Beinn na h-Urchrach.

The track is clearly visible for the first few hundred metres from where it leaves the road, in part because it looks as if Ardnamurchan Estate vehicles have used it, but later.... becomes much rougher, and for long distances runs along the upper side of the very substantial stone wall which separated Camas nan Geall's arable fields from the rough grazing of the scarp slope.

The track runs past a beauty parlour. No, that isn't the spell checker at work, because that muddy puddle is used by the stags in the rut to cover themselves in a makeup which, one assumes, helps to make them irresistible to the ladies.

At intervals along the track there lie the remains of the stone walls of four houses which aren't shown on Bald's map. One assumes therefore that, in 1806, the fields were worked by people who walked to them from the clachan each day. That the houses are made of stone suggests they post-date the 'improver' Alexander Murray, Lord Stanhope, who owned the Estate in the early 18th century.

Old, and increasingly lost tracks like this one form a network across the peninsula, and it would be a fascinating work to walk and record the many miles they used to cover.

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