Point Ferry—Laggan—Port Castle—Heritage Centre

4 September 2021

Point Ferry—Laggan—Port Castle—Heritage Centre

 04 September 2021    02:20 approx    Moderate    4.74 miles     go to map  


  All dogs must be on leads, and remember to keep clear of all livestock, especially sheep and sheep with lambs and … please leave all gates as you find them. Thank you.

1. POINT FERRY—PORT RAMSAY—LAGGAN

From the Point Ferry at the north end, take the road south to Stronacraoibh (just over a mile), where the route is signposted for Port Ramsay. Cross a cattle grid and, just after the Port Ramsay sign, turn left on an unsealed road leading to Laggan. (You can also reach this unsealed road by walking round the top of the island as described in the Point Ferry—Port Ramsay walk.)

Whichever route you choose, you soon pass a road off to the left (ignore) and two old caravans on your right. Continue, crossing two cattle grids beside a new house and eventually, after passing several houses, reach a caravan beside a gate. Once through, follow the wall (a sign indicates ‘Fennachrochan track 800 metres’), passing a cabin and arriving at the last house, Camas.

Turn off to Port RamsayRoad to Port RamsayPort RamsayFirst cattle grid, LagganLaggan road and housesCamas house and market garden

Turn sharp left and climb a gently-sloping field on the far side of Camas house and market garden, moving towards the right and parallel to a wall. In the top corner of this field are two gates, take the one on your left and continue round parallel with the wall to start with but, when it turns sharply right, continue ahead towards the sea, making for a wall with a stile. The stile is about 50 metres above the sea. Cross with care, as it needs repairing. (We’re on it.)

Glensanda Quarry (the largest in Europe) is ahead on the mainland.

Looking across to Glensanda QuarryStile into Port Castle

2. PORT CASTLE CROFT—PORT-NA-MOR-LOACH

You are now on Port Castle croft. Walk up slightly to the left and then ahead on a sheep path between the raised beach cliffs and the sea. A lime kiln on your right was never used.

200 metres on, cross another stile and follow the path through a hazel wood to reach the lime kilns at Port-na-Mòr-Laoch. You can clamber down before them—or after—to see this important Lismore port, quiet now, but once vital for fishing, lime and general cargo. Also possibly famous for having been visited by St Columba, as written in Lismore in Alba by Ian Carmichael (a minister of Lismore). He also suggests the Fianna from Ireland: Ossian, Oscar and Fionn, may have landed here. That is too interesting not to insert! A pinch of salt maybe needed.

In modern times this port was part of the lime industry, although little is known about this kiln compared to those at Sàilean and Kilcheran. With an increased demand for lime during the 19th century, kilns were built across Lismore—always below a cliff so the quarried stone could be moved downhill to feed the kiln from the top. The nearby jetty (remains visible) would have been busy unloading coal and exporting the lime which were carried by the sailing smacks. Most too, as here, had associated nearby cottages, as well as storehouses for coal and explosives.

Stile into hazel woodRemains of jetty, Port-na-Mòr-LaochLime kilns, Port-na-Mòr-LaochRuined dwelling, Port-na-Mòr-LaochPort-na-Mòr-LaochRoad to Balimackillichan

Continue on the left under the cliffs beside a fence on what was once the main much-walked and -driven road to Balimackillichan and Bachuil. It’s not easy to discern this significant thoroughfare which is now grazed peacefully by horses and sheep. It’s also very wet in places.

About 50 metres after the fence turns sharp left, the road slopes up to Balimackillichan. Leave it and take the lower route on good sheep paths towards a gap ahead with rising ground to the right and left. When you can see the sea, continue on the path uphill towards a very large tree with a ruin beside it.

The top of Castle Coeffin is soon visible. Stay up high nearer the sea than the wooded cliffs on the other side. A bit of clambering involved. Eventually, you climb down and walk towards the corner of a fence around the croft house and take the gate nearest the sea. Take care; there is a bar across the top and a steep drop into the sea on your right.

Go through a second gate and continue directly above the sea next to the fence. Where there are two gates, take the metal gate on the right as signposted. Continue on the raised beach beneath interesting cliffs, the castle ahead.

3. CASTLE COEFFIN

It is said the MacDougalls built Castle Coeffin in the 13th century. There is some evidence of earlier Iron Age activity, and a well-told Norse legend is associated with the name. These days, Historic Environment Scotland care for it and ask visitors not to climb it; its precarious state is a danger to the castle and the climber. Very popular with sheep. Beside it in the sheltered bay is a medieval fish trap, visible at low tide.

Croft ruin, Port CastlePath to Port Castle gatePort Castle croft gatesRaised beach cliffsCastle CoeffinMedieval fish trapPort Castle horsePort Castle gate

Take a well-defined track away from the castle, ignoring the gate to the croft house, through three gates and up a steep hill. Continue on this road until you reach a wall on your right with a ruin beside it. Well worth exploring. Continue straight through the gate ahead, then—when the road turns to the left—go straight through an iron gate with pallets attached. You now have a wall on your left and a burn on your right. Before you reach another gate, turn right and through the gate with a wire across the top. Continue ahead until you see a white house in the distance to your left, and quite soon the sedum roof of the heritage centre.

Balimackillichan ruinGate with palletsGate with wire

You can return to the Point ferry on the main road or walk via Balnagown and the Broch, following the Heritage–Balnagown–The Broch–Clachan walk, leaving it at the Balure road-end, where you turn right and join the main road to the ferry.


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