History Walks in Moidart

Ben Hiant

In the last 250 years Moidart, like most of the Highlands, has undergone dramatic changes in landscape, in population, in social and economic conditions and in language and culture. The evidence for these changes is still highly visible in Moidart because little development has occurred to destroy it. The History Group is a group of volunteer enthusiasts who, as well as researching and cataloguing the evidence, have produced some guides so that you can see some of it for yourself and learn and understand the changes which have taken place in our community. Much of what you will learn about Moidart will lead you on to a better understanding of the West Highlands in general. By following the walks you will also visit some wonderful locations which you might otherwise have passed by.

Details of these walks

These walks are covered in more detail in leaflets provided by Moidart Local History Group. Each leaflet costs £1 and contains detailed information on how to follow the walks, sketch maps and historical background to the sites being visited. We are a voluntary non-profit-making group and the profits from sale of the leaflets are used to further our research work and to present it to the public. The leaflets can be purchased at the following outlets:
Glenuig Shop Acharacle Shop
Glenuig Inn Lochailort Inn
Strontian Tourist Information Centre
Kilchoan Tourist Information Centre

1. Caolas Mòr Glenuig

Visit a large village, deserted since 1870, Caolas Mòr (pronounced kölas more), an illegal still house, and an intact grain and malt drying kiln. This is an easy walk but once you leave the pathway to explore the old village the ground is wet in places and walking boots or wellies are advisable. From Glenuig drive over the Bealach Carach (pronounced byalachkarach). Bealach means pass. Park at the first gateway on the right from where the walk begins.
Time: about two hours.
Distance: about one mile.

2. Eagnaig and Bad an Dòbhran north shore of Loch Moidart

Visit three deserted villages, a small disused graveyard, an illegal whisky distiller’s hideaway and the whisky exciseman’s house. Quite a demanding walk. This walk begins at Caolar Mòr (see Walk number 1) between Glenuig and Kinlochmoidart and continues round the north shore of the North Channel of Loch Moidart passing the old settlements of Alltigill, Eagnaig and Bad an Dòbhrain. The path is intermittent and walking boots are advised.
Time: three-four hours. This can be shortened by leaving out the visit to Bad an Dòbhrain.

3. Eilean nan Cuilc Burial Ground near Lochailort

Visit a very old disused Highland burial ground and view old cultivation systems.
Map reference: NM773824.
This easy walk begins only five minutes from Lochailort Inn.
Total distance to walk: about one mile. There is no made path to the island and the ground is fairly wet and walking boots or wellies are essential. A walking stick is a good idea for using the stepping stones across to the island. You will not be able to reach the island burial ground when the river is in spate after heavy rain
Time: half an hour to an hour to complete.

4. Polnish Church to Lochailort Inn

This walk begins at Old Polnish Church, climbs up to the communications mast with magnificent views down Loch Ailort, past old shieling huts, along an old cattle drove road past a disused sheep fank and back to the road near Lochailort Inn. The walk is about 2.5 miles plus another one mile along the road to collect your car again. You will need walking boots as the track is quite rough and wet in places.
Time: about two hours.

5. Caolas Beag to Kinacarra

Follow part of the old path on the north side of Loch Moidart which connected Glenuig and Kinlochmoidart until the present road was opened in 1968. Enjoy magnificent views along Loch Moidart and visit a kelp burning site, an Iron Age fort, prehistoric hut circle sites, charcoal burning platforms and coffin cairns (where coffins were laid down for a rest and a dram on the way to burial on Eilean Fhionan, the Green Island on Loch Shiel).
Time: about two to 2.5 hours.

6. Loch na Bairness, Smirisary, Glenuig in preparation

Follow a path to Loch na Bairness and visit cultivation rigs and view the remains of a mountain shieling village where cattle were taken for summer grazing for centuries until about 1830. Get an idea of what the natural forest cover of the Highlands was like at one time from the forestation on the islands on the loch. Go on to view the remains of a typical fishing and crofting village on the shore. Great views of Eigg, Rum, Muck and the Skye Cuillins.
Time: two hours plus one hour to visit the shore village.
Walking boots essential. Easy going as far as Loch na Bairness, but more demanding to reach the shielings.