Meallach's Grave... Notes in Great Weather... July 15 2014.
Decided to take a wee walk in the forestry at Dyemill before dining at Lamlash, just to put a keen edge on the appetite. We had no intention of climbing all the way up to visit on old Meallach but had a couple of sunny hours to kill and had decided to wander the forest paths by the burns on the lower slopes of The Urie.
I had visited Meallach's Grave twenty four years ago and had been massively underwhelmed by its midge-ridden forestry confinement. I kinda like a view when I climb a hill - call me old fashioned - and there hadn't been exactly a lot of stonework to see back then. It was more than my dinner was worth to even suggest taking a look in on Meallach and the stumps of his cairn...
As we walked along the pleasant forestry paths admiring the splashing burns, waterfalls and deep pools, we wound gently up through the trees and out into the the open sunshine. The entire side of The Urie had been given a right good scrogging - all the trees were gone!
The footpath then joined a well-metalled forest road which made very easy walking to the crest of the hill at Creagan Nan Coileach. We turned to head back down and a little footbridge beckoned us to walk down the opposite side of the burn we'd walked up on. A little signpost suggested a short walk to Meallach's Grave. I held up my hands - I hadn't planned on a site visit. My OH and wee HD let me know in a wordless kind of way that I would be visiting Meallach on my own and that they would see me back at the car.
The climb up from the main path took five minutes. Easy walking. Lovely open hillside, breezy, no midges. As I climbed up to the terrace with Meallach's Grave I noticed a number of North Arran Peaks come into view over the long back of A' Chruach - just as I reached the site.
What a site. What a sight! What a change! What a difference clearing off the Forestry has made to this site. The views are (of course) stunning, but the placing of the cairn in its particular position makes so much sense. With the forestry gone you can even see the curve of the portal on the South side of the cairn some distance from the stones. A green line of buried mossy stones curving off in a gentle arc. The chambers were a bit clearer too - they had been full of heather and bracken when I last visited. Clearing the forestry and removing the forest debris from the site has opened it right up. I headed back down to the car with a real spring in my step.
Meallach's Grave is right up there with Giants Graves in Arran's Chambered Cairns. Meallach is a big league hitter now. These places never made much sense when they were cloaked in forestry and made kinda devoid of context. The trimming of shrubbery on many of Arran's hillsides continues. Cannae come quick enough I say. Brazilians all round.
On a hillside amidst vast brutal pine plantations, this chambered cairn stands on a north-south axis. The two portal stones are around 5 feet high and in the Batman ear shape like Aberdeenshire flanker stones, with one of the other frontal stones about 2 feet high beside.
The chamber is 10 feet long and about five feet deep, set 2 feet below entrance level so that the chambers would have been half above and half below ground. The vertical divider walls are intact, if heavily mossed and lichened in the damp clean air of this clearing in the forest.
There are two of the internal dividing stones recumbent on the floor of the chamber.
For all the environmental havoc wrought by pine plantations, there's a sense of stillness here so far from the roads, with the soft rushing of wind in the treetops and the occasional slow creak.
The site itself has a tremendous feeling of focus – not dark or spooky in any way, but certainly a jangler of your psyche.
Regarding the name Meallach's Grave, which is so official that it appears on the signposts instead of Monamore: Is Meallach a mythical character? Is there any connection with the twin peaks of Holy Island being called Mallach Mor and Mallach Beag ('big Mallach' and 'small Mallach')?
Directions: From Lamlash, turn on to the Ross Road. Half a mile from Lamlash, just before the cattle grid and the road goes single-track, there's a place signed 'Forestry Commission Dyemill' with a car park and picnic tables. In there, take the dirt road going straight ahead, not the one to the right. 'Kilmory 9 miles, Whiting Bay 4 and a half miles' says the sign just past the gated roadbridge. You can't drive this dirt road but you can walk or cycle. About half a mile in a green Forestry Commission signpost points off the track to the west, and a couple of hundred metres into the woods there's another one pointing south. Meallach's Grave is in a small clearing about 400m in.