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Two Old Islay Farmsteads

By Becky Williamson

I seem to be having a bit of a thing at the moment for Islay ruins - the more isolated, the better! Hence, after checking the forecast and yep, it was going to be another beauty of a day, Fiona and I met at the Coullabus road end at 9.15 am to work out car positions and the route.

The only thing was, it wasn't a beauty of a day. It turned out to be the bad day sandwiched between two good ones - and naturally the day we'd chosen to walk! Fiona is familiar with this terrain - we both are - but she had not walked the exact route we were going to be doing today; neither had I. That's what makes it exciting!

We parked at Bun an Uillt (Mouth of the River) and walked towards the deer fence NR3069 : Corner of the deer fence near Bun an Uillt, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3069 : Deer gate near Bun an Uillt, Islay by Becky Williamson. This deer fence has very recently been extended to protect Coill' a Chorra Ghoirtein (Wood of the Corncrake), which has been cleared of invasive Rhododendron and had extensive replanting of native species. NR3069 : Regeneration Project, Coill' a' Chorra Ghoirtein, Islay by Becky Williamson.

Walking was quite easy across to the ruined farmstead Corra Ghoirtein - an apt name for a farm in an area once heavily populated by this now rare farmland bird. NR3169 : Corra-ghoirtein Farmstead, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3169 : Corra-ghoirtein Farmstead, Islay by Becky Williamson. From here we continued SE, turning back to view the ruined farmstead NR3169 : Looking back to Corra-ghoirtein, Islay by Becky Williamson and, in the distance (and not viewable on any photo), the distinct outline of Dubh Artach lighthouse. We followed the lower, north and north-eastern slopes of Maol nan Caorach NR3169 : North-eastern slopes of Maol nan Caorach, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3169 : Maol Bun an Uillt, Islay by Becky Williamson and then detoured eastwards to view the frozen Loch a' Chnuic Bhric (Loch of the Speckled Hill),NR3269 : Loch a' Chnuic Bhric, Islay by Becky Williamson, from where we flushed a solitary Teal.

We were now on the eastern side of Maol nan Caorach (for which I have been unable to find a translation so it's 'Rounded Hill of [something]') NR3268 : Maol nan Caorach, Islay by Becky Williamson and continued through thick heather NR3268 : Moorland east of Maol nan Caorach, Islay by Becky Williamson. We were rewarded here by views of three species of raptors - a male Hen Harrier quartering the area, a Buzzard which was mobbing a Golden Eagle. It did not peservere for long however. The King of the Air soon left it behind and we watched as it flew westwards, staying in our binocular vision for about a couple of minutes before disappearing over Cnoc Breac.

Looking back we could see the southern end of Loch a' Chnuic Bhric (which spans two gridsquares) NR3268 : Loch a' Chnuic Bhric, Islay by Becky Williamson. We ascended the western slopes of Maol Bun an Uillt, passing an old boundary line NR3268 : Old Boundary Line on Maol Bun an Uillt, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3268 : Old Boundary Line on Maol Bun an Uillt, Islay by Becky Williamson in order to step into the next gridsquare. From here we obtained what would have been a glorious view of the valley, through which the Abhainn Ghlas (Grey River) flows NR3267 : Looking down on the Abhainn Ghlas, Islay by Becky Williamson and in the distant south-east, Loch Drolsay NR3267 : Abhainn Ghlas, Islay by Becky Williamson.

We descended now to the river where we paused for lunch. The river was still slightly frozen from our recent frosts NR3267 : Abhainn Ghlas, Islay by Becky Williamson, NR3267 : Abhainn Ghlas, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3267 : Abhainn Ghlas, Islay by Becky Williamson. I looked back from whence we'd come NR3267 : Moorland east of Craigens, Islay by Becky Williamson before we plodded on to our next destination - another ruin. This was not visible until we were almost on top of it. Called, intriguingly Coille Mhņr (Big Forest), this old farmstead has no signs of cultivation nearby - nor existing evidence of any woodland. NR3167 : Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson, NR3167 : Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3167 : Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson. The farmstead is also known as Bealach-na-guala (Gap of the brow of the hill) which makes more sense as the old farmstead is located at the foot of several small hills. The interior is now covered with heather which caused us to muse on the length of time since its inhabitation.

We lingered here a while before heading north-west onto the bealach of Maol na Srņine and Maol na Coille. NR3167 : Moorland north-west of Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson Conveniently for us, the deer gate here was open NR3167 : Deer Gate at Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson and the sun was now out, typically at the end of the walk! I took advantage of the emerging sunshine to photograph the terrain now covered NR3167 : Moorland north-west of Coille Mhòr, Islay by Becky Williamson and that still to come NR3167 : Lower slopes of Maol na Coille, Islay by Becky Williamson and Maol na Srņine (translation uncertain) NR3067 : Moorland north-east of Craigens, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3167 : Maol na Sròine, Islay by Becky Williamson.

We were suddenly welcomed by a farm track in the bealach NR3067 : Track between Maol na Sròine  and Maol na Coille, Islay by Becky Williamson and watched a small flock of Twite, a typical farmland bird which reminded us that we were approaching civilisation. As we summited Maol na Srņine, we looked across to Loch Gruinart, one of Islay's two sea lochs NR3067 : Looking towards Loch Gruinart from Maol na Sròine, Islay by Becky Williamson and thus, our destination - one of our parked cars.


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Marker only shows grid square

When
Wed, 13 Mar 2013 at 14:58
Grid Square
geotagged! NR3167

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