The Church—Heritage Centre

14 May 2021

The Church—Heritage Centre

Powered by Wikiloc

The Church—Heritage CentreModerate2:002.6 mi  


The churchGate to BalimackillichanNew Build, BalimackillichanSign to Castle CoeffinBalimackillichan ruin

Take the small gate on the north side of the church and walk through the Glebe, behind the new graveyard, climbing a gentle incline until you see the Balimackillichan farmhouse. Turn right at a rocky outcrop and walk towards a corner where a wall and a fence meet and where a small gate leads down steep steps almost opposite the farmhouse.   

Once through, bear left towards the main gate beside a newly-built house, a second home. Continue on this road and, after the handmade sign for the castle, head soft right on a road that curves round towards the next gate. This is the road to Port Castle.

An extensive ruined settlement is soon on your left; two dwellings, maybe more. It would be good to know about these disappeared lives, if any reader/walker does.

Rejoin the road to Port Castle; Glensanda on Morvern will soon be in view, often with a large bulk carrier loading granite (you can hear them).


Port Castle CroftGate to croftFish trapWall between Port Castle and Port a’ Charrain

Follow the road round with Castle Coeffin ahead and, after the welcome to Port Castle sign, a gate leads down the hill with the croft house and the equestrian training area on your right. After two more gates—always leave them as you find them— leave the road and walk along the raised beach to the left of the inlet. If you want to visit the castle you can deviate here.

There’s a fish trap in the inlet which will be visible at low tide. It is said to be medieval. The water in this image is the trap from which fish were unable to escape once the tide went out. A low wall kept them imprisoned. It now resembles a horseshoe, but the remaining stones would have been put to other purposes, as all stones on the island were and are.

The MacDougalls built Castle Coeffin in the 13th century and there is some evidence of earlier Iron Age activity. Historic Environment Scotland care for it now and ask visitors not to climb it; its precarious state is a danger to the castle and the climber.


The raised beach cliff is impressive and is a clamber up to the substantial wall between Port Castle and Port a’ Charrain. There is no way round it but, fortunately, you will find stepping stones and a large boulder behind a hawthorn tree.  Care is always needed to avoid damaging walls (and limbs). They should only be climbed when they are sturdy and there is no other way. This one calls for a degree of agility. Otherwise, you can return the way you came and access Port a’ Charrain from the Balimackillichan ruin by turning right there and walking across the field to the stile on the wall.

Across the wall, the raised beach was mostly dry underfoot, with plenty of buttercups, primroses, early marsh orchids and wood anemone. The flag irises were coming along too. It was Spring. In winter, though, it was more of a damp trudge.

Eventually, the raised beach broadens out and the cliff disappears. When it reappears, walk beneath it, ascending an incline to a wooden gate in a fence ahead.  Turn right and walk along the clifftop, more or less parallel with this fence. Coeffin is visible behind; ahead in the distance are Bernera, Mull and Morvern.

When the fence ends you are beside a gully leading to Sloc a’ Mhuillin. Cut straight across, veering slightly left towards the left of an outcrop behind a burn.  Eventually, you will see the end of the lost village ahead. The ruins are strung out as far as the wall into Balimackillichan.

Cross the burn in front of these ruins, and walk through the lost village of Port a’ Charrain, once an extensive settlement, now busy with sheep and lambs.

According to the 1841 census, forty Liosaich lived here. Ten years later there were twenty-eight and by 1861, only sixteen. More than half away in twenty years. But the dwellings remain, in ruins of course, some stones where they left them, others taken away to build walls or roads. It’s not hard to imagine the living village; to conjure people cooking, fetching water (there are two streams nearby), tending to fires, to the land, to children. It is harder to imagine how it was as the numbers dwindled.

It is thought to have been a weavers’ village for the linen industry and lies beside Glac an Lìn—the field of flax. That field must have been a sight when the flax bloomed. They were surrounded by beauty anyway. Flax was first grown in the 17th century, and linen produced to industrial levels early in the 18th century. Lismore had three flax mills, the most well-known at Balnagown. Lots more information at the Comann Eachdraidh website and in Robert Hay’s book, Lismore: The Great Garden. To quote Bob:

Lismore tenants and cottars in the 17th and 18th centuries living at subsistence level were effectively self-sufficient. They fed themselves from the land and the sea and clothed themselves from wool, flax and leather produced on the island.’

At the end of the settlement, the wall into Balimackillichan has an Explore Appin and Lismore stile, but you stay in Port a’ Charrain and walk parallel to the wall. Depending on your path, you will meet two museum pieces on the way, the first a hay turner made by W Dickie and Sons, Victoria Works, East Kilbride, the second a hay rake with no details.

Gate from raised beachCastle Coeffin, looking backFence at Sloc a' MhuillinSouthern end of the lost villageRuined dwelling Port a'CharrainRuined dwelling,Lost village from aboveNorth end of lost village


When the wall ends, continue in this direction over a hill. A white house – Killandrist – appears in the distance ahead. Visible on your right is the vegetation covered roof of the Heritage Centre with the thatched cottage next to it. Proceed to the left of the centre towards the gate to the main road.

Suggestion: stop for refreshments at the Heritage Centre cafe, open every day from 11-4 from Easter to October and famed for its hospitality and cakes and, if time, a browse in the museum and shop before taking the road back to Clachan, in spring ablaze with primroses.

If not visiting the Heritage Centre, turn left onto the main road.

After the ambulance, fire station and the telephone exchange (on the right), you are again in Clachan, with the road to Port Castle on your left and the Smiddy on your right.

The Heritage CentreHeritage MuseumHeritage shopThe SmiddyPrimroses in the old graveyardGraveyard, church and primroses

A detour into the old graveyard is recommended, with the bonus of abundant primroses in Spring.

  Walk Lismore checks walks as often as possible to make sure things have not changed. e.g. a gate replaced with a fence. Land and livestock management is necessarily ongoing. If you find changes please let us know.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts

Heritage Centre—Balimackillichan

Heritage Centre—Balimackillichan

Powered by Wikiloc 1. HERITAGE CENTRE TO LOST VILLAGE OF PORT A’ CHARRAIN If, or when, you are visiting the Heritage Centre, you can add this short walk and discover a lot of history. A longer walk starting at Clachan covers some of this but, […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
St Moluag’s Trail

St Moluag’s Trail

Powered by Wikiloc Introduction Moluag died in 592 on 25th June, now his commemoration day. This walk can be done comfortably between the normal ferry service leaving Oban at 0900 and returning at 1500.  (It’s not always normal.) 1. Achnacroish Start at Achnacroish where the […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email