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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Kinuachdrachd (Cairn(s))

This is quite literally the end of the road as far as Jura is concerned. The track ends at Kinauchdrachd at a farmhouse that both looks like it's being restored or fallen down. What has almost fallen is the small houses of the small hamlet that once existed here.

Just beyond these buildings is a flat area which looks as if it has been farmed, this houses the two cairns.

The cairn at NR 7053 9885 is the largest being 11m wide and 1m tall. It appears to have a capstone or large stone on top. Apart from that it is grass covered. Canmore say no kerbs, I think a couple poke their heads through the turf.

The smaller cairn is only 15m to west and is also grass covered but a very lovely shape. It is almost 5m wide and 0.6m tall.

Both cairns have tremendous views over the Sound Of Jura and Scarba (island), the other side of Corryvreckan.

Now for those going on to Corryvreckan viewpoint to see the standing wave, whirlpools and Scarba finding the path can be a nightmare. We scrambled up the steep slopes through woods to eventually reach the path heading north, however there is a much easier way. Go back to the farmhouse and head down the track for 50m, look for a broken stump on the west side, this marks the beginning of the route to the viewpoint. The post, which once upon a time had a sign, has all but rotted away, look up the hill and path can be spied but the beginning of it cannot be seen. The ferns on Jura have had a glorious year!. The track is fairly easy, over a couple of wee hills till the viewpoint.

Despite the length of the walk, this is a stunning place, stunning scenery and a lot of prehistory on the way. Give yourself plenty time and leave earlyish, by the time we arrived back to the car it was still daylight, by the time we arrived back in Craighouse it was dark.

Great walk, great sites, and feet reasonably fine.

Visited 28/07/2021.

Barnhill (Kerbed Cairn)

I couldn't get to the dun but I could get to the Kerb Cairn. Keep following the road north until, at a severe corner, you go past the entrance to Barnhill.

There is a flatter area of grass as the road heads north, look east you'll see a gap in the dyke which leads up the small hill of Glac A Chneamha. Along with nearby Cnoc an t-Sabhail, the area Barnhill was built on, there is evidence of small hamlets and a now long gone population. Bronze Age people lived here and maybe they had a small village here as well. I couldn't find that, I found some of the medieval 'but n ben's and more importantly for here the cairn remains in place.

Once on top of Glac A Chneamha head south over fairly uneven ground, nothing to bad.

The site is almost 5m wide and 0.3m tall. One kerb remains in place, its near neighbour topped and another on the east also toppled. However in the centre there is perhaps a cist, hard to tell with all the vegetation. Jura has had a remarkable summer for ferns! Absolutely stunning views, the Sound of Jura, mainland Scotland, to the north Scarba's east coast.

Onwards and north.

Visited 28/07/2021.

Rubh' an Truisealaich (Stone Fort / Dun)

Continuing northwards we eventually looked down into the valley in which Barnhill stands, the house made famous by George Orwell who wrote 1984 here and by some of his exploits on boats.

The house is still owned by the Fletcher family who rented it to Orwell, and at the time of this visit the house was occupied by members of the Fletcher family. To get to the site would have meant walking across their land and nobody was at home.

So pictures of the dun perhaps broch from afar. Tremendous site for such a monument with superb views south. East and north views of the Sound of Jura and the Scottish mainland.

Would have been nice to get closer.

Visited 28/07/2021.

Cnoc Nan Darag (Chambered Cairn)

For a long time it was considered that the chamber cairn at Cladh Chlainn Iain was the only monument of this type on Jura. It looks like the Jura Heritage Society might have found another.

After clambering my way cross country, from the cairn at Cnoc A Chuirn, following the stream I landed in, Allt a'Chuirn Mhoir north westish I regained the firmer ground of the track near a bright blue coloured bridge, Follow the track as it meanders north crossing a bridge near a hut, keep going until until a silver coloured bridge. The site is beyond, hiding behind a small mound and to the west.

Using the casual eye I made the site 15m long, 4m wide and perhaps 2m tall. Stone work can be seen a points all round the cairn especially at the eastern end.

Nowadays this a lonely lonely place, in the past and perhaps not to distant past quite a lot of people lived here. Sadly apart from residents at Barnhill the area is population free except for wildlife. However it has tremendous views especially north east to the Scottish mainland.

Worth a visit!

Visited 28/07/2021.

Cnoc A' Chuirn Mhoir (Kerbed Cairn)

Cnoc A' Chuirn Mhoir - Hill Of The Big Cairn, is the perfect description for this site which is 200m south of the summit.

The minor road ends at Lealt with a small car park, an information board and signpost indicating the distance to places further north (distances in miles).

Barnhill 1984
Kinauchdrachd 5
Corryvreckan 7

However our first site of the day would be the 17m by 1m kerb cairn. It is set in a truly spectacular location. The hill of the same name to the north, clear views over the Sound of Jura to the Scotland's mainland. There are kerbs on the west side, under the heather there are kerbs on the north. Despite the remoteness, plenty people lived here in the past and there is some evidence of this as some stone rubble was dumped on the north part of the site.

From Lealt follow the track north until the deer fence veers north east. Follow this and it will lead straight to the cairn. This is the proper way, unfortunately for me I headed cross country from the track heading east as a bridge in the distance came into view. Unfortunately for me as I made my way across the valley I found out why there was a bridge as I promptly walked straight into the Allt a Chuirn Mhoir burn.

Nothing deterred from the site - stunning!

Visited 28/07/2021.

Bridgend (Hillfort)

Take the road the leads east just to the north of the hotel and as the land flattens out climb over the gate into the field. This field is immediately behind the hotel. Sadly there isn't much to see except for natural defences on the west.

However, placed to the south of the River Sorn, it would have been a great vantage point.

Head back to ferry to Jura time.

Visited 27/07/2021.

Rockside (Stone Fort / Dun)

Sometimes my job, my favourite drink and prehistory all occasionally collide, sometimes unintentionally.

On a previous visit to Islay I'd visited The Oa with its American Monument (erected after the tragic events during 1918), this time to complete research for a new album I'd visited the Kilchoman Military cemetery, overlooking Machir Bay, scene of another tragedy. On leaving the cemetery I, of course, had to visit the local distillery to sample some of the local holy water.

Just to west of the distillery's car park there is Rockside Dun, one of many prehistoric sites in the area.

The most likely entrance is to the south east of the 30m by 10m site. Not much remains of the ramparts apart from some fallen stone all round the wee hill, 6m high, that is overlooked by some serious looking cliffs.

Great wee site, the local drink would be sampled later on Jura.

Visited 28/07/2021.

Dun Nosebridge (Hillfort)

Dun Nosebridge truly is a stunning place and it can be seen from Mulindry, where we parked. The gentleman at Mulindry Old Schoolhouse, also proved very helpful, with place name pronunciations, and also allowed to park immediately behind his car, i.e. The Oa / Kilchoman. Nosebridge is as it reads :-)

Cross over the River Laggan, and take the track heading east, a nice easy walk which leads straight to fort. The cairn at Caisteal Mhic Dhomhnuill is also nearby, is at the top of the hill immediately north.

However the main attraction soon comes into view. The fort can be easily climbed from the west but the main stone lined entrance is on the east. Three huge ramparts cover north, three, perhaps more cover east and west and to the south natural defences, a cliff face.

There must have been a huge amount of work carried out here, no doubt in later centuries the fort was used for more agricultural purposes. At the moment, thankfully, it seems to be left alone.

Truly stunning site.

Visited 28/07/2021.

Ardmenish (Promontory Fort)

From the hut circles at Abhainn A' Garbh-achaidh follow the road as it heads north, then south east passing the the working croft of Ardmenish. Keep going until the road heads south west, then leave the road and head straight for the only high ground - the Ardmenish Fort.

It is a well defended site with the remains, some still built, of four walls. To the north of this is the entrance, a relatively easy climb.

This was the second time we'd seen the fort, earlier that day an open rib boat slowed so I could take a couple pictures of the fort, after that it was up to Corryvreckan, eagles of various type, whirlpools and standing wave.

The track from Knockrome to Ardmenish has been improved and I'm glad to say that it looks like The Light Houses, home to the light house keepers, are being restored as well.

Great site, more info on the Canmore link.

Visited 27/07/2021.

Abhainn A' Garbh-achaidh (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

After getting permission to park at Burnside, Knockrome we followed the track as it headed North with great views of the Lowlandman's Bay to east. This is a very open stretch of track until the small wood at the crossing of the Abhainn A' Garbh-achaidh Burn. A short distance north beyond the burn stands a small clump of trees to the east of the track, the hut circles are conveniently pointed out, one beneath the trees and one found by tripping over a stone.

Luckily one of the huts has trees outlining it's shape, stones remain in place and it has walls up to 2m wide. The other hut is slightly to the south east and also has several stones in place as I discovered with Jura's now infamous high ferns covering the site.

Nice site, much easier in winter.

Visited 27/07/2021.

Dun Doir A'Chrorain (Hillfort)

The A846 isn't the only road on Islay, there are roads to Keils, Inverlussa, Knockrome and Lealt (the walk to Corryvreckan). It does, however, have only one A road, the A846.

The dun at Doir A'Chorain, just the east of Gate House (north on the road) and south of Lagg can be reached by parking near the passing place, there is plenty of room.

A short walk south reaches the site which is 14m long by 9m wide. It is surrounded by walls some of which still remain in a built condition, at their widest they reach 2m. However an annexe, 18m long and 11m wide also surrounded in walls contains the main front door in the north east with perhaps another smaller entrance on the south side of the dun.

An interesting place and a place that you can easily be spied on. Deer, at least 50 or 60 of them watched nervously from Cnoc A Doire Dharaich to the east, their antlers dark on the hilltop.

Visited 26/07/2021.

Ardlussa (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The standing stone at Ardlussa like many standing stones appears to indicate a natural harbour and is situated on the north side of Ardlussa Bay, a short distance east from the road.

It stands at about 1 meter high and has no markings. The only thing to disturb its peace was myself and a few cows.

Nice site.

Visited 26/07/2021.

Carn An Seirmonaich (Cairn(s))

This must have been a huge cairn at some point, it still is despite being much reduced in size. However it is difficult to photograph thanks to trees growing on it and the very high ferns, seemingly commonplace this year on Jura.

Take the Keils minor road from Craighouse heading west following it as it heads north, at the next sharp corner stop. From here head east down the hill which leads straight to an entrance to a field. Look up the small hill, the cairn is amongst the trees.

After jumping the fence be careful as you'll land in the beginnings of the stonework. Kerbs can be seen on the north and south after a good tramping down of vegetation.

Apparently the cairn was used as a type of kirk or meeting place during 1847.

Could be a very good site if the vegetation went away.

Visited 26/07/2021.

Crackaig (Stone Fort / Dun)

Parking is available to the south of Craighouse at the crossroads with the main road and two tracks. To the west leads the stone row at Carragh A' Ghlinne, to the east is Crackaig Farm.

Head east along this track, for about 200 metres, then look for a gap in the dry stane dyke to head south west. The dun is on the north side of the hill so head for low point between the two high points of the hill, then head north. Dry conditions made the climb fairly easy.

Remnants of defences can be seen on the south and north west as large well placed stones, some of these stones being 3m in length. The stone on its edge marks the forts front door to the south. A much reduced rampart surrounds the interior which is approximately 15m by 10m. Steep slopes on three sides complete the defences.

Superb all round views, north to the Bay Of Small Islands and on a good day Ireland to the south.

Visited 26/07/2021.

An Aird (Cairn(s))

After the battering from Druim Loisgte we retraced our footsteps back to the standing stone at Cnocan Soiller, this time leaving the path to go straight west, which leads to a gate. Climb over this and head north west to the second clearing in the trees/bushes - the cairn rests to the west side of this.

The site sits at almost 6m wide and is 1m high, farmers from all ages have taken advantage and dumped stones onto the east and south sides. Tremendous views of the Bay of Small Islands, my favourite, the smallest, is called Useless Island and to the west Jura's most famous sight, The Paps of Jura. Whoever was placed here certainly had a decent view.

To get back to the car park simply head straight north, there is a gate in the north east part of the field.

Nice wee site to finish the afternoon.

Visited 25/07/2021.

Druim Loisgte (Hillfort)

This fort might appear fairly low and it might appear to be easy to reach. It isn't, our attempts, and there were several yielded no reward.

Our first attempt was to head straight across and batter our way through head high ferns, brambles and various other obstacles. A and B battled their way through and climbed the first part of the cliff. However the climb was to steep and their legs not long enough. However I did manage to climb up and eventually made it to a clearing near the cliff's edge. This was between the hill to the south and the fort, there appeared to be a hollow way and a tracks end not listed Canmore. Tightly packed trees and various other plants made entering the fort from the south impossible. Heading west I made it back to the bottom of the hill on the An Aird side, only to fall into ditch which was fortunately dry. Following this north for about 20 meters I had another attempt thwarted, having climbed half way there nowhere to go but back down. Trying the headland proved equally futile.

A winter time visit would probably help find a way up, tantalising but no cigar this time.

Visited or attempted 25/07/2021

An Dunan (Promontory Fort)

From the standing stone on Cnocan Soillier head south following the track, part human, part animal, part quad and follow it as it swings north into a flat area called An Aird, situated between to secluded beaches. Head north to find a way round the headland which is the Druim Loisgte, a fort (more of which later) until you reach a natural causeway. The causeway has pebbles then beaches at both sides.

Entrance to the fort is on the south west and is about a metre wide, superbly defended by several standing stonesque rocks, then clamber up the east side. On the forts western side several facer stones give protection, on the east there are hints of a rampart. These defend an area of around 40m by 15m. The south end has been described as a dragon's tail by locals, a reasonable assessment. Superbly located it can see both the entrances to the Bay of the Small Isles to the south, and much closer Lowlandman's Bay to the north. Vikings are said to have taken keen interest here and at Ardmenish to the north, as these inlets made superb harbours.

To the east is the Sound of Jura, and whilst on the way to the whirlpools at Corryvreckan was lucky enough to take a couple of photographs from the watery side.

To west is Druim Loisgte...............

Fantastic site.

Visited 25/07/2021.

Cnocan Soilleir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Head north from Craighouse on the A846 and take the minor road heading east towards Knockrome, home to three standing stones and at the roads end Ardfernal, home to another standing stone. At the end of the road as it veers north there is a track heading towards Cnocan Soilleirs highest point, before this there is a gate and the track, man and cattle made heads south. Follow this until it starts to head downhill. In a clearing there are some rock plates and glacerial, just beyond this and immediately east stands the hill's standing stone.

The stone stands at just over 1 meter high and has a square top, having no markings. Some chokes lay hidden in the grass, ferns and heather It has clear views into the Bay of Small Islands and to the west, the famous Paps of Jura.

This is also the route to the two forts further on and a cairn to the west.

Great wee site, spectacular views.

Visited 25/07/2021.

Carn Liath (Stone Fort / Dun)

The dun Carn Liath is very close to Jura's only village of Craighouse. Opposite the island's shop there is a track that heads uphill and west going behind the sacred Isle of Jura distillery. Keep going until the track swerves north towards masts of various description. Instead of heading north, head straight on, west, into the trees and follow a hardly used track, tree lined but full of cleggs (horsefly). Luckily I take so may drugs (legal), they ignore me but they had fun with A.

Keep looking north until you see where there is a circle of higher ferns, in winter this mound will be reasonably easy to spot. Despite a good covering a small part of the dun had no ferns allowing this visitor to spy some stonework on the western side. Plenty of nearby dry stane dykes have benefited from their builders robbing stones from the site.

Still, beautiful views into the Bay of Small Isles, everywhere in fact, and this gives the idea that this position was used to keep an eye on the bay, just like its two friends at Knockrome and another at Ardmenish.

Visited 24/07/2021.

Ardrishaig, Robber's Den (Hillfort)

From our accommodation in Ardrishaig we headed down to the Crinan Canal and walked north along West Bank Road until to come to the Kilduskland Burn. Follow the path west, climbing steadily, cross two wooden bridges looking for a small waterfall near a reasonably sized pool. The fort is on the northern side, then head east.

Sadly vegetation has taken over much of the fort. Outer defences are reached or tripped over on the west side. Both sides of the fort are protected by sheer drops falling into two steams. Buildings in the fort are almost impossible to make out but are there.

A winter time visit needed to really see what's going on here. Still a very nice, cool walk amongst the trees after a long car journey. Even better a pub on the shore at the bottom of the hill.

Visited 23/07/2021.
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