The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Cnoc Bad Na Cleithe



Having neglected to push on to this excellent little height during a visit to the Cam Loch chambered cairn last year, thelonious's images were subsequently pivotal in ensuring I didn't compound the error this time around. Well it is said, is it not, that only a fool repeats his/her mistakes? OK, sometimes life's a bit more complicated than that, but I guess the general principle is sound enough.

Having spent the morning at the well placed Carrachan Dubh chambered cairn I'm - farcically in retrospect, given the quality of the site - actually in two minds whether to stop off at all.... or press on toward the night's stop within Glen Etive, an admittedly quite considerable drive away. As it is my recollection of the aforementioned pictures wins the day, duly parking within the gaping entrance to the Lyne Quarry upon the A837, that is a little distance south of the Lyne chambered cairn. Here the low, grassy ridge of Cnoc Bad Na Cleithe rises a relatively short distance away to the approx north-west. It looks an easy ask, to be fair, but of course - this being North-west Scotland - it is not, the intervening ground riven by bog and potentially ankle breaking leats. Aren't they just? Oh, not to mention the sinuous course of the Ledbeg River which somehow evaded inclusion within my deliberations. As it happens this oversight has a wondrous, unforeseen outcome... but there you are.

Reaching the river I (obviously) realise my error and, luckily, discover that it is possible to cross dry-shod, thanks to the lack of recent rainfall, by balancing upon naturally deposited 'stepping stones'.... only to encounter a second line of defence in the form of an unclimbable deer fence. No doubt even more so if you happen to be a deer. Nevertheless this obstacle is, in turn, overcome - or more accurately 'undercome' - by crawling beneath it at the confluence with the Allt Bad a' Ghille Dhuibh. So, aside from falling almost headfirst into a hidden leat (thankfully no damage results, except to my somewhat effected nonchalant demeanour), I manage to ascend the southern flank of Cnoc Bad Na Cleithe without further incident until I more-or-less literally stumble upon the remains of what appears to be a large round cairn. Surely this can't be right.... the monument I've come to see apparently overlooks Loch Awe to the north? There is nothing depicted upon the map (and subsequently no entry upon Canmore) but I've seen enough prehistoric cairns now to know a clear example when I see one, at least within the acceptable parameters of 'reasonable doubt'. The location is classic, the interior featuring a number of larger stones suggestive of previous internal structure, the circumference well defined. What else could it be? Yeah, I'm convinced that here we have a smaller southern companion mirroring the position of the great northern monument. Speaking of which...

Upon cresting the ridge, there it is. A large, round cairn, apparently 'unopened', set some way below the summit and featuring as just one facet - albeit a fundamental one - of a quite exquisite view looking north across Loch Awe. One might even term it 'monumental'. Or perhaps not. According to Audrey Henshall the cairn measures - or at least did in 1963 - "7ft to 8ft high and... 63ft N-S by 70ft transversely". Descending for a closer look it is apparent that a number of large stones occupy the cairn's summit, slabs that might be deemed out of place if the existence of a concealed chamber wasn't a real possibility. As I sit back and try to take it all in... an impossibility, but it's fun attempting... the morning's low cloud begins to peel away from the upper reaches of the surrounding hills revealing the grey summit of Canisp rising to the north-west beyond Cnoc an Leathaid Bhuidhe, a view to complement the magnificent vista across Loch Awe. Incidentally a couple of small islets within the loch's northern waters are cited as possible crannogs by Assynt's 'Hidden Lives Project':

It would be feasible - I think - to descend directly to the A837 from the cairn and so avoid having to ford the Ledbeg River, reaching tarmac near the entrance drive to Lyne farm. Or more to the point, vice versa. However I decide to return whence I came to have a further look at the southern monument. Hey, two for the price of one. Can't argue with that.
10th January 2015ce
Edited 7th June 2015ce

Comments (9)

Nice one (or should I say 2) Mr G!! drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
10th January 2015ce
Well, it's your country, Happy when you Scots point things out to the rest of us. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
11th January 2015ce
Nae quite sure what that means. Your recent fieldnotes have been brilliant tho :-) drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
11th January 2015ce
Nice description of how the map isn't the territory when it comes to getting to some of these places. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
11th January 2015ce
What I meant was there's so much stuff up Assynt-way that I wouldn't have bothered with anything other than a 'chambered cairn' if the lonious hadn't been there first.... GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
11th January 2015ce
See what u mean, Assynt has loads of good stuff. Need to go back over there as well :-) drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
11th January 2015ce
Nice notes Gladman. Makes me want to go back for a look at the other cairn you came across (looks good on the photos). The location is just so wonderful for Cnoc Bad Na Cleithe.

I've been chatting with Mrs T this weekend about whether to go west coast (Ullapool way) or east coast (Helmsdale) this May or June. I don't know if reading your fieldnotes is helping or hindering :-) Too many good places!
thelonious Posted by thelonious
11th January 2015ce
Isn't it great though how you inspired me to come here and subsequently discover something new. Well, new.... as in Bronze Age? If you was to ask my opinion, however..... ironically I'm finally getting around to adding last years's Strath of Kildonan notes. I intended to stay half a day. Spent three... in my opinion the recent felling of trees has revealed several of Scotlands finest monuments. Then again there's Loch Hope! GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
11th January 2015ce
It's been too long since I was in the Kildonan area. Last time was mainly for walking and we didn't get much time for the megalithic stuff so it would be good to go back. thelonious Posted by thelonious
11th January 2015ce
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