The shoreline of Loch Awe, surely one of The Highlands' largest inland lochs, is blessed with some fabulously sited monuments... Kilchurn Castle, at the extreme north-east and the peerlessly located Port Sonachan chambered cairn are but two. In my opinion the small fortified enclosure of Dun Toiseach, overlooking the extreme south western extremity of the loch, is very much in the same class. Hence I readily confess this 'end of day' visit, following the long drive down from Caisteal Grugaig (Loch Duich), was primarily motivated by the promise of a spectacular upland vibe. Yeah, I can not, could not... resist such temptation. Dun Toiseach did not disappoint. Neither did the notoriously fickle Scottish weather, for that matter.
Visitors approaching from the wonders of Kilmartin Glen should take the minor road north from Ford and begin to skirt the 'far' bank of Loch Awe. In short order Dun Toiseach will be seen crowning a rocky knoll rising above the small hamlet of Torran. It is by no means an extensive fortress, Canmore describing the site as 'a severely ruined dun measuring about 16m by 13m within a wall which has been some 4m thick. (Campbell and Sandeman 1964)'. By all accounts the entrance was to the north-east of the D-plan enclosure. To be honest I reckon the 'severely ruined' status is, relatively speaking, a little unfair. I've seen a lot worse and enough remains to leave the visitor in no doubt that this would have been a tough little nut to crack for any raiding party. Particularly when defended by nutty celtic warriors. Worth the effort for the archeaology alone, perhaps?
But, of course, there's more.... to paraphrase that annoying Irish comedian of my childhood. Jimmy Cricket, that's him. Ah, the location! It truly is exquisite, particularly with washes of light from the 'dying' sun chasing shadows across the landscape, the sublime waters of Loch Awe reflecting a vibrant blue hue. Such is the case this evening. Perhaps the only minor negative aspect of the visit is the apparent ambiguity of access. Lacking time, I opt for the direct approach and initially feel a little uneasy, silhouetted upon the summit of the knoll in full view of the houses below. No 'raging landowner incident' to report, however.
Dun Toiseach is on a small hill near a bend in the road at Torran, overlooking the bottom end of Lock Awe. Below, on the bands of the loch seems to be an area that was once settled. Possibly the land connected to the hillfort. However, before we could investigate properly, we were chased off by some quite angry looking, territorial cows! I made pretty short work of the drystone wall near the road!