Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Knoll

This knoll lies to the south of Loch Mudle in rolling countryside between the B8007 and the lower slopes of Ben Hiant. It's of interest for several reasons, not least that....

....there always seems to be scat on or near its summit. This particular specimen was right on the top, next to the broken bone of a sheep. I have no idea what produced it, but this knoll was the site of a trail camera set up a year or two ago by one of the groups trying to locate wildcats on Ardnamurchan. They baited the area in front of the camera with rabbit from the cull on Canna but didn't have any luck with the wildcats.

Slightly lower down the slope was this specimen which seems to be more wool than anything else. Quite why an animal would want to feed on wool is a bit of a mystery but it has clearly been through an animal's digestive tract.

To the southeast of the knoll, hidden by clumps of marsh grass, are the remains of several stone structures. Most are the size of typical shieling huts but one is rather bigger. It's an unusual site for a shieling as it's close to the busy place where five old trackways used to meet, two of them going southeast around the edges of the Basin towards Camas nan Geall, two running north to pass either side of Loch Mudle, and.... westwards, this last one being, for hundreds of years, the main route to via Skinnid to Kilchoan. One suggestion is that the buildings were used by the drovers taking cattle from Ardnamurchan and Barra to market in places like Falkirk.

The Kilchoan track passes a beautiful little glen which, if followed upstream, leads to a waterfall set, today, against the backdrop of a snowcapped Ben Hiant.

The area around the knoll is prime grazing for one of the Ardnamurchan Estate's fine red deer herds, including this group of very handsome stags. They must have felt very persecuted today as we kept bumping in to them.


  1. From my experience in the western U.S. I would expect it to be a coyote or fox. Since you don't have coyotes, I would guess fox.
    They do eat a lot of hide and hair for some reason. Probably what they eat when they can't get anything else. In this area in the fall on a good year for rosehips, coyote manure is full of rose hips for a week or two.
    The bobcats and mtn. lions seem to scratch around their scat and it is not usually on a hilltop, but more likely under trees if they are handy. At least that is what I have seen.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Kathy. We've noticed a lot of scat around the place with wool in it, so whatever it is that eats it does it regularly. Perhaps it's something to do with improving their digestion. And we do have rather too many foxes at the moment: they're doing considerable damage to the crofters' flocks of sheep. Jon

  3. What is done to control the number of foxes and control the damage they do? Is there anything available to the crofters?

  4. Thye bring in a pack of hounds which flush the fox out. They are then shot. In fact, they were out at Ockle hunting foxes on the day of this walk. Jon

    1. Glad to hear there is something done. Any animal in excess is a problem.