The Church—Heritage Centre—Balimackillichan

16 January 2022

The Church—Heritage Centre—Balimackillichan

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The Church—Heritage Centre—BalimackillichanEasy1:403 mi

Revised and extended 16 January 2022


Starting from the church, walk north on the road and take the first large gate on the right into Baligarve. Go straight ahead towards an electricity pole. A little further on, a white pole with a red stripe indicates a stile. Once over, head for the left of the next pole and down a steepish sheep path towards a small gate in a wall.

Small gateTrack down to small gateLeft of the telegraph poleStileGate from main road into Baligarve CroftGate into Baligarve Croft


After the gate, head a little to the right, up an incline and around a horseshoe bend looking down into a gully with Balnagown Loch in the distance. On the other side of the gully follow a sort of path beside a semi-broken-down wall which soon becomes a fence. This path was once much walked. Many a Liosach would have used this going to church, or to the road, or when out visiting. The loch is still ahead. Eventually, the track and the wall turn left.

You, though, go ahead on a tractor path towards another wall and walk it towards a gate. Once through this gate turn right immediately, through another gate.

As you go straight, keep to the right of the highest hill ahead. The loch, sometimes visible, is on your right. This is straight, easy walking. Looking back, you see Balure Farmhouse, Ben Nevis, and Sgòrr Dhearg and Sgòrr Dhonuill (Dhòmhnaill)—the two Munro summits on Beinn a’ Bheithir behind Ballachulish.

Away in the distance on your right you will see the top of the fire station and the microwave dishes of our current broadband above the telephone exchange.

Gate into BalnagownLooking north at the Broch and Balure FarmhousePath between the rushesHorseshoe bend looking down to Loch BalnagownLoch Balnagown

Eventually, Balnagown Loch is visible again on your right. Climb a small incline on a deeply rutted tractor track, now dry but often wet. (When we did this walk, gorse was abundant to our left and right and, as we approached a gate beside the loch on our right, we saw how low it was, as low as I have ever seen it. At this point, 2021 had had below-average rainfall.

January21.6% below average
February43.3% below average
March49.6% above average
April72.6% below average
Mayso far 71.3% below average
Thanks to the Sailean Project

Much of this section is on a tractor path which eventually leads down to a wooden gate beside the loch. Once through this you are in Balnagown.


Once through the gate and a brief detour to the ruin beside it, follow the path beside the loch. Canada geese are often grazing in the cultivated field ahead. They only eat the best! After another ruined settlement on the left, go through a gate into a field. Stick closely to the wall, as this field is cultivated.

Before the next gate you can detour ahead to see some interesting exhibits in the island’s outdoor museum, including a farm implement bearing the words Blackstone and Company — First Prize — Lincoln 1907. 

Retrace your steps and go through the gate beside the Mill race with the Mill ahead. You can cross the water where the stones make this possible. However, there is a bridge further on—if there has been a normal amount of rain. Some stones are shoogly and can be unreliable when wet, so the bridge is recommended.

The Mill race with Mill behindGate to the Mill, BalnagownWall in BalnagownMuseum piece: 3 hay turnerDetail of museum pieceRuin, BalnagownRuin with fireplace

From the bridge, cross the field diagonally right towards a large ash tree on the Mill road. The Mill farm buildings are down to your left. Turn right and continue on this road.

The loch and its reeds (some were used for thatching Taigh Iseabal Dhaidh, the reconstructed cottage at the heritage centre) are on your right, and the view stretches away to the hills on the mainland. Continue past the boathouse—a little green shed with steps down to it (easy to miss). This, like the loch, belongs to the Fells, who have been absentee landlords of a sizable chunk of the north of Lismore since 1866. It happened because Sir John Campbell of Airds needed cash, so sold what was called his Lismore lands to the Haig whisky magnates, and the Reverend Alexander Fell, son of Janet Haig, inherited.

 At the end of this steepish hill go through what is known as the gate to the Mill.


The impressive cliffs on your left give way and you pass a bungalow on the rise on your left. You are now in Killandrist, a place rich in ecclesiastical history, the name meaning St Andrew’s Chapel or Cell. 

Further on, you pass a cottage and two barns (the former occupied until relatively recently), and then the shell of Samuel MacColl’s school (Sgoil Shomhairle), a parish school that served the middle of the island in the 19th century, where one of Lismore’s most celebrated sons, Alexander Carmichael, was educated—as indeed were many others, less celebrated perhaps only because history’s celebrating is random and never neutral. How many ‘mute inglorious Liosaich’ held slates here?

The large white Killandrist House is on your right, before the gate to the main road where you turn left for the Heritage Centre where, in season you can get refreshments, as well as cultural input (open from Easter to the end of October).

Gate from the Mill into KillandristThe boat shedLoch Balnagown from the Mill roadBarns, KillandristHouse no longer occupied at KillandristSamuel MacColl's schoolKillandrist House


After your visit, take the gate beside the Heritage Centre into Port a’ Charrain and walk diagonally up a gentle hill—not beside, but—parallel to a wall, making towards the left of some fir trees in the middle distance ahead.

With plenty of good sheep paths, in about 440 metres you reach a gate with has a wire strung across the top and threaded with a blue rope. If there are lambs about, keep well clear of them (and any cattle), as you walk diagonally towards another gate in the corner of the field where three walls meet. There are two gates; go through the one on your left with the Explore Appin and Lismore badge.

Ahead is the road to Port Castle and Castle Coeffin, but you are turning sharp right on this road. You may like to detour to the ruined dwellings you can see ahead near the next gate.

Otherwise, follow the path right. When you reach another road, turn left on to it. Just before the gate into Balimackillichan farmhouse there’s a new build on your right

Proceed through the gate. Turn right towards a tree at the end of a wall ahead, beside which is a very small gate up some grass-covered steps.

Gate beside the Heritage CentreGate with wireRuin, BalimackillichanNew build, BalimackillichanGate to GlebeGimmers in GlebeChurch and Glebe

Through the gate turn soft right, and when you reach the end of a substantial rocky outcrop, turn left and walk parallel to a wall on your left. Ahead is the church and the new graveyard; over to your right is the old manse. You are now in the Glebe, which is grazed by sheep. Keep to the left of the new graveyard fence; the old graveyard is on the other side of the church and well worth a visit.

Go through the small gate to finish the loop.

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