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Picture of a group of walkers on their way Could it be Friday already, the last day of the Islay Walking Week 2007? At least we still had two walks left to go before it was time to leave. For the first walk of the day we met in Port Ellen, where shared transport was arranged out to Tallant on the Ardtalla road.

Tam (in place of Callum Sharp, who was busy elsewhere) would take us to two old hill forts near Loch Carn a'Mhaoil. The original plan had been to walk to Tighnaspeur (also known as the Sky House), but that was dropped as it didn't add much to the walk and the view would have been almost the same.

Walking westwards from Tallant we started our walk over some fairly flat ground. As we later learned this to an extent was deceptive as apart from the path we followed a lot of the ground is quite rough, wet, boggy and tussocky.
Picture of a group of walkers on their way to some low hills Picture of a small lighthouse (Eilean a'Chuirn lighthouse)
Picture of a ferry on an overcast day with the sun breaking through in places While walking west there were some interesting views to the east: The small lighthouse on Eilean a'Chuirn was visible in the distance at various times. The late morning ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen passed with the sun occasionally breaking through over the water.

We walked past Druim Arn-ir-ach and then over the wide open space south of Loch Carn a'Mhaoil. A quite interesting landscape, the wide flat open space with the interesting geological folds ahead of us.

Once we reached the hills it became clear why they had been chosen as a site for the forts as they rise quite steeply from the ground. We walked up along the side to a gap, looking back at Loch Carn a'Mhaoil along the way. We then had to almost double back to reach the fort at Dun Beag.
Picture of a group of walkers looking back over a loch (lake) Picture of a group of walkers approaching an ancient hill fort
Picture of a woman sitting on a rock over a wide landscape Once we arrived at the fort at Dun Beag we enjoyed the view over the southern shore with a number of bays in view. Loch an t-Sàilein, Ardilistry Bay and Loch a'Chnuic to the south, Aros Bay to the east. Just below us was Loch Carn a'Mhaoil.

There is an interesting point about the quite large plain between the shore and the fort, if I remember correctly called ‘deceptive moss’: The ground looks quite solid and excellent to run and attack over. In reality it is very soft and boggy, not good for a charge at all. Something the local people and therefore defenders would have known, possible attackers probably not.

The question we didn't find the answer for was what the defenders would have done in case of a long siege though: There was no visible water supply for the fort. May be that was the reason the fort was given up at some point?
Picture of a loch (lake) seen from hills above Picture of walkers going down a hill with interesting rock formations in the background
Picture of a group of walkers in wild terrain, a large mountain in the background From the top we also had nice views over the geological formations in the areas. I can't remember the details, but I think some of the rock had been folded at some point, leaving long ridges stretching into the distance. Very interesting views!

Next we headed straight north to visit the second fort. The big lump of Beinn Bheigier was dominating the landscape looking north, an impressive view.

The second fort was much smaller, but much easier to identify than the first one as more of it had remained. Some of the old stone walls were still recognisable, more than at the first fort. We had a good look around and also enjoyed a rest as the sun finally broke through the clouds.
Picture of walkers climbing up the entrance to an ancient hill fort Picture of walkers enjoying a rest in the sun on an ancient hill fort
Picture of a group of walkers standing in front of the remains of a dun Our last stop for the walk was at the remains of Dun Fhinn. We had walked here past Leac Eidhne, north east from the two forts. There isn't much left of the dun, mainly just a pile of rocks.

To return to Tallant we walked south again, enjoying some nice views of the hills stretching into the distance. After about 3.5 hours and a very interesting walk we arrived back at the cars.

As we were close to Ardbeg everyone joined in for a proper lunch at the Old Kiln Cafe at Ardbeg distillery. A nice treat after all the sandwiches and muesli bars during the week. Very nice food and generous walkers size portions!

One more walk to go now...
Picture of 3 walkers in front of some hills Picture of a group of people sitting at a table eating lunch
If you are interested in more information about Islay, Colonsay and Jura you might also be interested in my Isle of Islay pages. There you will find many more pictures and further information about Islay, Jura and Colonsay.

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