I drive too far down the road to Kilmarie and miss the footbridge across what I presume to be the Abhainn Cille Mhaire flowing into Loch Slapin. However the sandy foreshore looks exquisite basking under the implausibly blue sky of this late May afternoon... hey, why not take a short cut across? Yeah, good idea. To be honest, it is.... as long as the traveller doesn't mind temporarily removing boots and socks and having a wee paddle. Once across, follow the coastline around to the right and it would be very difficult to miss another of Skye's superbly positionned ancient fortresses.
The fortified enclosure surmounts the northern of a pair of rocky knolls rising above the blue waters of the loch. I understand from Canmore that Dun Ringill was amended - updated, shall we say - somewhat during medieval times to serve the changing needs of its owners. More of a human footprint, then, than your average dun. However this means I'm not sure how much of the entrance arrangements - the passage of which is well preserved - represents later work? Whatever, the defences retain a formidable aspect.... impressive drystone walling protecting the landward approaches, natural crags to seaward rendering much less masonry necessary there. In contrast not a lot survives of whatever structures once stood within the confined enclosure. But there you are.
Substantial the ruins of Dun Ringill may be. However.... this being Skye... the location is arguably the primary reason to come here. Yeah, the coastal views are, needless to say, exceptional. The vibe is pretty good, too, the short coastal walk ensuring any half interested tourists remain in their cars this glorious afternoon. I can live with that.
On the way back I decide to try and locate the (apparent) long cairn at Cnocan nan Gobhar... this is most certainly a mistake (take the bridge), the intervening woodland turning out to be a water logged wilderness of bramble. However I manage to extricate myself and approach the riverside, via a stile.... only to have some arrogant, ignorant 'individual' shout at me from the safety of the high walled house across the water. Not a good idea... Seems the blighter's most put out that I'm within his 'crop' of grass and is clearly not adverse to talking to people as if they are servants. I nickname the wrong 'un 'Shug' (he reminds me of the 'plastic Scot' character in Rab C Nesbitt) and point out he should learn some manners and remove the bloody stile, then. Jeez. What's more, time has run out if I want to see sunset at An Sithean... and I must leave. Somewhat angry, I pause outside 'Shug's' house and sound my horn. Needless to say he does not appear for a more intimate chat. Like a proper man. "Ah leave him. He's nae worth it!"
Mother Skye obviously concurs, for as I drive along the eastern shore of Loch Slapin once more, rhetorically asking myself whether anything can be so magnificent, so beautiful?.... a veritable vision of feminine loveliness in cropped top and shorts approaches. She flashes a smile which I reckon has the beating of Bla Bheinn hands down... and Skye's apology for the 'Shug episode' is gratefully accepted.
This part of Skye is in the Strathaird estate which used to be owned by Ian Anderson (so the Jethro Tull song is a definate reference). I visited the site in summer 2003. It's in a hugely atmospheric location overlooking Loch Slappin.
Visited this site in Summer of 1997. Easy, short hike from SouthEast of the village of Kilmarie (cross stepping stones at the mouth of the burn, Abhain Cille Mhaire, and basically hug the coast on a fairly well-marked trail heading basically East). Site was fully accessible, in good shape and interesting - well worth the trip. The entrance was partly collapsed, but open.
Side note: the rock band Jethro Tull (on an album called 'Stormwatch') has a song called "Dun Ringill". I do not know if the song references this site (I've not seen another of this name) or some imaginary place. Any Ian Anderson/Tull fans out there know?
On the subject of the Jethro Tull references, last night at Reading Hexagon, they played Dun Ringill. Ian Anderson introduced it as a song about a neolithic (sic?) hillfort & went on to talk about it being used to try to see off the Vikings....
He's usually reasonably knowledgable about stuff, so I suspect he was simplifying it for the plebs in the crowd. Or not.