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In the lee of Beinn Dubh, Islay

By Becky Williamson

We nearly didn't go on this walk. The cold north-easterly wind did blow and we had planned to walk on Islay's eastern shores; well, not shores exactly; that just sounded better. I had worked out a circular route, starting at Ballygrant quarry, walking up the track to Lossit Farm, down to the bothy at Baleachdrach and then southwards at the foot of Beinn Dubh to Lochs Fada and Leathann and back to the road and the car.

It was all familiar territory to me, although I have only done all the walk once before when I ascended Beinn Dubh NR4263 : Trig point, Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson. We started at the quarry and walked south-eastwards down the 'Glen' Road. Jim pointed out the disused mine to me NR3965 : Disused Mine, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson. At the fork in the road NR3965 : Fork in the road, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson we turned left and skirted the edge of Ballygrant Woods and Loch. We passed Lossit Lodge NR4065 : Lossit Lodge, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson and walked uphill to Lossit Loch NR4065 : Loch Lossit, Islay by Becky Williamson, a freshwater loch with two small, wooded islands. At Lossit Farm NR4165 : Lossit Farm in winter, Islay by Becky Williamson we paused to talk to the gamekeeper who reminded us that we would surely feel the blast on the brow of the hill!

When we walked down the steep farm track to Baleachdrach NR4165 : Farm track to Baleachdrach, Lossit Farm, Islay by Becky Williamson I commented that it was a lot easier descending this road than ascending it. "Och, I don't know," replied Jim, looking back, "it doesn't look that bad." I said I'd remind him of this fact if we ever did the walk in reverse! A gate halfway down the track made us smile NR4165 : Gate near Lossit Farm, Islay by Becky Williamson with its comical sign NR4165 : Comical sign on gate, Lossit Farm, Islay by Becky Williamson. Then Baleachdrach came into sight NR4265 : Baleachdrach, Islay by Becky Williamson. This bothy has always been locked in the past so I was surprised to find it open and it proved to be a welcome retreat from the cold wind for a few minutes whilst we drank hot drinks from our thermoses. NR4265 : Inside Baleachdrach Shooters' bothy, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson I assume this is a stalker's bothy, used for shooting parties to indulge in more luxurious fare than we were enjoying today. The fireplace looked big enough to roast a good portion of venison on!

Out of the bothy we felt the blast of the easterly wind until we found shelter in the woodland south of the bothy NR4265 : Woodland south of Baleachdrach, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson. The track continues here further than is shown on the map, although it is hardly suitable for any but the most versatile of vehicles.NR4264 : Stony farm track south of Baleachdrach, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4264 : Farm track near Baleachdrach, Islay by Becky Williamson. A deer gate marks the end of the proper track NR4164 : Deer Gate near Lossit Farm, Islay by Becky Williamson, although a very muddy portion continues for a bit southwards. We looked backwards to see the snow-summited Paps emerging briefly from the cloud.NR4164 : Towards the end of the farm track, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson.

We were now in search of dłns and reliant on the GPS to help us find them. There were two marked on the map and a lot of possibilities in sight! We soon found the first dłn NR4164 : Summit of Dun south-east of Lossit, Islay by Becky Williamson which affords excellent views towards Beinn Dubh (Black Mountain). There is an expansive walled enclosure here; in some places the wall reaches a height of about 5 feet. NR4164 : Walled enclosure north-west of Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson The enclosure is clearly visible on the map and is indicative of a time when the island was much more populated. There is a poignancy here in this now uninhabited territory where ancient, not so ancient and contemporary meet (we were prevented from exploring further by the presence of a deer fence to the west). Life has been and life continues whilst the elements and nature span all eras and bring a continuity to it all - walls are covered with moss and modern fenceposts are already encrusted with lichens. As well as the man-made wall, we could now see the natural dyke running from the top of a higher dłn towards us and further west NR4164 : Natural Dyke and Dun, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson I was fascinated to see this, although the last time I saw it I had a better view (from the top of Beinn Dubh) NR4164 : Natural dyke near Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson.

Two mysteries arose from our trip today - why did this burn disappear into the ground? NR4164 : Disappearing Burn near Lossit, Islay by Becky Williamson and what was the purpose of this single iron post near the walled enclosure? NR4164 : Single Iron Post in erstwhile farmland, Dunlossit Estate, Islay by Becky Williamson

We were to return to this grid square later, but for now we skirted the bottom of Beinn Dubh, passing another erstwhile wall NR4163 : One of many former walls west of Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson (there are actually many here) and avoided some very marshy ground which in fact is contourless for the best part of a quarter of the gridsquare! NR4163 : Marshy ground north-east of Loch Leathann, Islay by Becky Williamson, NR4163 : Bowl of marshland west of Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4163 : 'Bowl' of marshland west of Beinn Dubh, Islay by Becky Williamson. Lazy beds are another poignant reminder of previous inhabitation NR4163 : Lazy beds north-east of Loch Leathann, Islay by Becky Williamson

Loch Leathann (Broad Loch) became visible as we followed the edge of this marshy 'bowl' NR4163 : Loch Leathann, Islay by Becky Williamson and then its twin, Loch Fada (Long Loch) NR4163 : Loch Fada, Islay by Becky Williamson. Then we were worried about the impending deer fence, but we found another gate NR4163 : Deer Gate at Loch Fada, Islay by Becky Williamson which served more of a purpose than this non-existent gate further down the track NR4163 : Once a gate by Becky Williamson. The track we were now on is a fisherman's or gamekeeper's track which returns briefly to NR4164. I was quite excited about seeing the ruins marked clearly on the map (having learnt my lesson about not just looking for named ruins on maps!) The only thing with my finely tuned map reading skills is that whereas before I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a ruin, now my expectations were high. Wow! There were going to be three ruins here (according to the map) but no, this can't be it. Where are they? There was certainly one, its gable end giving it away, making it visible from the track NR4164 : Eacharnach Farmstead, Islay by Becky Williamson (taken after striding off the track for a few metres). OK, so I was going to have to be satisfied with this one ruin NR4164 : Eacharnach Farmstead, Islay by Becky Williamson. Walls are certainly a feature here - there is a plethora thereof! There also seemed to be a duck pond!

We paused here for lunch and discussed the success of our walk - yes there had been bog, but not a single fence to cross. That's success in my books (as well as being unusual!) The Standing Stone could be seen from the track NR4064 : Towards the Standing Stone near Kilmeny, Islay by Becky Williamson, but hardly seemed worth the effort to go to (another time maybe!). A supply of spare tyres made an interesting feature for a photograph NR4063 : Anyone need a tyre? by Becky Williamson in the next gridsquare, as did the permanent puddle with its curious stone structure (possibly a hide for duck shooters as we flushed some Teal here) NR4063 : Permanent puddle off Ghillie Track, Islay by Becky Williamson.

Soon we were back on the 'Glen Road' NR3963 : 'Glen Road', Islay by Becky Williamson which led past Knocklearoch with its protected Standing Stones NR3964 : Standing Stone, Knocklearoch, Islay by Becky Williamson. Then we were back at the car and glad of the heated seats!

It had been a very enjoyable walk, although, as the photos demonstrate, the lighting was not brilliant for photography. I'm looking forward to spring and bright skies!


Loading map...
Marker only shows grid square

When
Tue, 19 Mar 2013 at 18:26
Grid Square
geotagged! NR4164

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