Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Testing the Mill Hypothesis

From Derryck Morton:
There is great satisfaction in having the opportunity to test an hypothesis, especially when it was one’s own in the first place.

On 18 December 2016, the Diary’s photograph of a blackhouse ruin at Eilagadale - link here - prompted me to suppose that an aperture centrally placed in the end wall may have facilitated a mill-wheel shaft. One possible construction sketch shown on 30th December - link here - depicts a long reach shaft allowing the wheel to be placed some distance downhill from the building, thus negating the need for a mill wheel pit, which the site does not possess. The proof would be in plotting the course of the mill leat, or lade as it is called in Scotland. I packed a surveyors tape, tripod and digital clinometer and we enjoyed the late May sunshine on a perfect day, following the track from Ockle eastward for about a mile....

....stopping for a flask of tea on a ridge above the Dun at Rubha na h-Uamha. From the track above the Eilagadale clachan I excitedly looked at all the possible lade routes I had studied on Google Earth’s satellite imagery, with intentions of checking the fall of each and ascertaining the likelihood that any were used as a water supply for the wheel. Descending the hill along the lane to the houses, the ruin with the mill-shaft aperture came into sight and, walking closer, it was clear there was something wrong.

Looking into the hole, the inner skin of wall seemed intact, blocking the aperture. Perhaps it had been blocked up at a later date. A look at the inside would make or break the idea.

The inner skin was perfect and regular. The mill idea was false. The outer wall skin had simply fallen away leaving a strong square looking hole. I should have been suspicious when viewing the Diary’s original photograph in that there was no single lintel over the aperture.

Oh well, surveying for a lade was not necessary and the whole day could now be enjoyed with a coastal walk back to Ockle via Rubha a’Choit.

At the salmon fisher’s house in Ockle Bay, we met a party of holidaymakers who agreed we would not know what to do with our morning cuppa when the Diary moves away. It seems we all begin our daily routine with the Kilchoan Blog.

Many thanks to Derryck for story & pictures.


  1. Derryck, it was nice to meet you at Ockle point. Trust you had a good journey home.

  2. It would be very interesting to do a survey of exactly how many people need the daily fix of the blog with their morning coffee or even breakfast for that matter. There is going to be a big hole to fill.

    1. You're right - that hole is going to be huge. I've spent a grand total of 22 days in Kilchoan (all of them over the last five years)and despite that very small experience of the place I cannot go a day without reading the Diary. Ships In The Sound entries, in particular, transport me to the verandah of Chris' Ranch instantly.

  3. From Norfolk, I Blogged up for a couple of months before visiting in March. I remain a start of day and end of day Blog addict. Fantastic insights into a fabulous area.

  4. Yes I read the Blog every day most evenings. Having visited Ardnamurchan and Sailed a lot in the area with a visit to Kilchoan. I also enjoy reading about the Ship in the Sound each month and much else. By the way I also live in South Norfolk

  5. I save Jon's wonderful daily entries until the end of the day! I have finished work, visited family and friends and can indulge myself in news from West Ardnamurchan. Jon's diary has been a wonderful reminder over the years of many wonderful holidays in the area the latest being at Rudh Dudh in the sunshine in May with a very dear friend. We will both miss the diary immensely. I love Ships in the Sound too! Sara

  6. Yes - another Kilchoan blog addict wants to say how much we will miss your wonderful accounts and inspiring photographs of the area which is so special to us. An enormous thank you for giving so much pleasure, Maggie Pridgeon