There is something about Loch Hope which ensures I find it more appealing than most other Scottish lochs... well, at least the substantial lowland variety. Clearly it's not a question of aesthetics alone since, even with Ben Hope's summit swallowed in a mass of grey vapour, even with rain hammering upon the car roof... I'm nevertheless compelled to halt and go for a wander. Perhaps such a compulsion is driven, at least in part, by the ethereal - perhaps almost metaphysical - 'edge of the world' aura I sense here, perched upon the far northern coastline of Britain, so far from home, yet paradoxically so at home. Then again perhaps it's simply beyond credible explanation? Ha! Time to pull on the boots before my head explodes.
Heading west, the A836 is carried across the River Hope - Loch Hope's outflow, no less - by the Hope Bridge, not far from the hamlet of Hope (there is literally an abundance of 'Hope' here) before climbing to a prominent bend where it is possible to park before a towering, gated deer fence. Beyond, a stony track heads southwards a little way above the western shore of the loch, although such is the surface water prevalent today that it might as well be a stream, albeit only part time. In due course it is necessary to cross a bona fide example in the guise of the Allt A' Bhaid Loisgt, this bordering woodland cloaking the eastern flank of Ben Arnaboll. The track veers toward the shore of the loch where - if I'd been in possession of a more up to date version of the OS map - I might have been able to interpret an unusual feature near an apparent hut circle as a souterrain. Then again maybe not with vegetation of such luxuriant density.
Anyway moving on.... a little further south along the shore there stands what is by all accounts the remains of an Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn measuring 'approximately 15.0m in diameter and 1.7m high - [OS (NKB), 19 Dec 1978]'. Although heavily overgrown and featuring the remains of a later parasitical building to the west, this is actually a reasonably substantial monument with what appeared to be a clear remnant of chamber within. Furthermore the torrential downpour, an incessant, unwelcome travel companion since before dawn, begins to ease and permit voluminous sunbursts to intermittently transpose the intensity of light within the loch-side foliage. From apparent monochrome to a colour palette of such vibrancy as to resist all my attempts at definition. I guess water is like that, making sure this dishevelled cairn is a good place to be.
According to the map another cairn is located further to the south, others located upon the far shore of Loch Hope. Yeah, there is a lot more to be seen around Loch Hope.... one day, perhaps? Not least the substantial remains of Dun Dornadilla, which - at least - I can recommend. However this is not an environment condusive to cramming experiences, but rather one to savour. If only for a limited time.