|Miller’s Port—The Lighthouse
To access this walk follow the main road south through Kilcheran until it becomes the road to the lighthouse. If parking a vehicle, be aware the road is used by large farm vehicles.
Start on the well-defined track to Miller’s Port which turns left off the road soon after you pass John Carmichael’s shed. A stream, which soon becomes the mill race, is on your right. Pass through a gate to see what remains of the mill, which may have been in use as late as the 1850s. It is still recognisably a mill, with a strong race and a clear place where the wheel turned.
2. INTO FIART
Very soon you reach another gate which takes you into Fiart. Cross the stream wherever you can. When it is in spate, nearer the mill is easiest. Continue along the raised beach near the cliff. The going is fine but wet at times; stout waterproof footwear essential.
Miller’s Port is to the left and the raised beach is flat at this point. You are heading towards two very tall pointed rocks. Walk to the right of the larger dramatic one with the cliff on your right. Follow a sheep path that takes you over a small wall with a sheep hole.
Opposite is an island where there are often seals basking and/or swimming.
The path is up and down, and sometimes scrambly. Stay nearer the cliff, heading towards a wooden fence, which is negotiable, but with care both for it and yourself. On this occasion there was a broken rail and a small gap, so it was possible to get through without further damage.
Continue on more sheep paths, negotiating wet patches and crossing a few narrow burns.
Sea eagles are often spotted about here.
3. AN DÙN
Pass between two low pointed rocks, and follow the sheep path round; cross through a wet patch to climb up to An Dùn, with a mystery road apparently going nowhere beneath it. An Dùn is a very large Iron Age possible dwelling. Like many Lismore dùns, it is superbly situated, with magnificent views along Loch Linnhe. This southern end of the island has the majority of these structures, although there is a notable dùn at Park in the north. I would recommend Robert Hay’s Lismore: The Great Garden for further information.
From the flat top of the dùn, walk back to the wall behind it which leads to a gate above the cliff. It is possible to negotiate the raised beach below but not for long, so better to stay up at this point. Continue along the clifftop through easy pasture and through a gap in a wall.
The lighthouse and Lady’s Rock beyond come into view. When you see several jagged rocks down on your left, take a steepish sheep path back down to the raised beach. Cross behind the last and the jaggiest rock, and on to a flat section, the lighthouse still ahead.
After some time you will see a large cave-like area up to your right. It is in fact walled in on two sides with a sloping roof. It looks as though it has been used for working sheep.
Enjoying this peaceful coast, it is impossible not to imagine that sunny morning in the late summer of 1940 when the Firth of Lorn began to fill with ships—from Eilean Dubh (the Black Isle) all the way to the lighthouse; it remained an anchorage for five years.
Donald Black’s book, Sgeul no Dhà às an Lios: A Tale or Two from Lismore, has a chapter entitled ‘Echoes of War in the Firth of Lorne and Lismore’ which describes his schoolboy experience of the ships arriving, and the sudden bombing raid (there was just the one), followed by the installation of anti-aircraft guns at Achnacroish, Baligrundle 1 and Baligrundle 4. And then watching as housing was built for the gunners, and the water supply installed at Newfield which is still in use today.
For five years the island was an important protected area, until suddenly it was over and the Firth filled with old, worn-out vessels waiting to go to scrap. And then nothing but the scene we see today.
Not far ahead is another prominent structure, Dùn Chrùban, an Iron Age fortified dwelling in a commanding position on this southeast coast.
This is Dalnarrow, with the walled garden and the Dalnarrow cottages soon visible on your right. Approach the dùn from the right and climb up, observing what remains of its walls as you come near the flat top. Looking down, you can see Ben Nevis to the north and the hills of Argyll around. Clearly it was an excellent place to see friendly visitors—or the mal-intentioned—approaching.
Climb down the same way you came and cross the flat field to join the road to the lighthouse; it is s a continuation of the main road after the Dalnarrow cottages. The lighthouse is ahead, with Lady’s Rock behind it. Soon Duart Castle and the hills of Mull are clear. The beach at the end is piles of shingle.
Although this is a walk to the lighthouse, you will never reach it, as it sits on its own island: Eilean Musdile. It was built by Robert Stevenson in 1833. Although at a very low tide it may look as though it’s possible to cross, the seaweed is usually floating, and it would be very slippery. And the tides are fast-running.
Beyond Eilean Musdile is Lady’s Rock, a square pyramid of white-painted solid stone, where one of the chiefs of Clan Maclean, clearly an unpleasant one, is said to have stranded his wife, the daughter of the Earl of Argyll, leaving her to drown as the rock is submerged at high tide. The story as told on Lismore is that she was rescued by the Campbells, who had their revenge. Of course.
5. NORTH AGAIN
At this point, after you have done any exploring, turn north again and walk towards the cliff of the raised beach, and up through the field. You will meet a wall on your left and, where this wall intersects with another and you meet a fence, make sure you are on the right of it as you are heading diagonally across this field. Near the top is a tractor path that will take you up and behind the Dalnarrow cottages.
Beside the path is a discarded reaper/binder with sharp points, and near the end of it is an abandoned roller.
Soon the main road from the lighthouse goes off to the left, but you climb up parallel with the road just after a fence. As you climb, what could be a dùn lies ahead but, the top is not flat, although there is an imposing dyke beside it which travels far across to the west. Several stones look as though they have not been placed by nature. It’s impressive.
Climb down to the flat field below, and over towards a fence. You need to be on the other side of this fence. Head north again, through a wide glen. It’s very uneven underfoot. Cliffs are on your left and your right. Stay nearer the left, as it is slightly less boggy. As you move to higher ground the sheep path gently curves towards the right, and you go between two hills, or rocky bits, and the sea comes into view. The wall between Dalnarrow and Fiart is now on your left, and there is a gap with a wire across it.
Go through this gap and join a path with a wall on your right. Away to the coast, you can see An Dùn. Ahead is Fiart Farmhouse, now a ruin, but once substantial.
The wall turns right but you continue north. Stick to the lee of the hill. A fence starts on your right, so walk between the fence and the cliff. Eventually it turns into a sort of farm track going towards the house.
Fiart Farmhouse has three intact gable ends and is an impressive ruin which is thought to have been built in the 1840s, although it was not on the 1870 map. Partly constructed in imported granite, and with some outstanding features, it may have been built by the Duke of Argyll in the 1870s, after the area had lost most of its population.
6. FIART DÙN
The path continues north, good in places and poor in others, and eventually it peters out and you see a gate to the right. Once through, veer slightly left and north and you will soon see Loch Fiart and will join the main road from the lighthouse.
Take the gate just after the abandoned caravan on your left and the mobile fank on your right, and leave the road immediately and go left to walk up to another Iron Age dùn, sometimes known as Fiart Dùn, again in a most spectacular location beside the sea. This is said to have walls several metres wide. Climb to the top of a sort of gully and turn right near the top, and walk across to reach the flat top of the dun. Enjoy the view all round, with the Creag islands in the near distance, and then across to Connel bridge and around to Oban.
There is another astonishing dyke near the coast. Return the way you came up, as it is the easiest way to re-join the road from the lighthouse, crossing a bridge which will take you back to the Miller’s Port track.
The final view of the Firth of Lorn with Eilean nan Gamhna and Eilean na Cloiche is one of the island’s best, though with great competition.