Coll The Coll Magazine

Article by Olive and Tom Bryers (1989)

The Sorisdale Arinagour Walk
The Sorisdale Arinagour Walk

Olive and Tom Bryers

In last year's Magazine we wrote of the lovely walk to Caolis. Many other walks are to be found along the north and south coasts. They can be as long or as short as you wish, since the road is always near the coast. The exception is the south coast walk from Sorisdale to Meall Eatharna and then to Arinagour as the road is principally on the north coast. The walk, which is a distance of eight miles, is rough going and requires a stout pair of shoes or, preferably , boots. The time taken varies with the fitness of the walker but at least five hours should be allowed. Two parties are best; leaving a car at either end. Unlike most coastal walks on Coll, it is not practical to walk along the shore line, but better to walk the hilltops. If possible, choose a cool breezy day to ward off the various insects which enjoy the high damp vegetation in this area.

The hills, though very small by mainland standards, give very good views of Coll, Rhum, Eigg and the hills of Ardnamurchan, Mull and Argyll. A surprising number of coastal vessels, fishing boats and yachts ply up and down the stretch of water between Coll and Ardnamurchan and Mull.

Leaving the car at a suitable point near Sorisdale, walk to the Bay and then by Cnoc an Tairbh (bull's hill)- Meall nan Calman (pigeons' hill) - Meall na h - Iolaire (eagles'hill) - Meall nan Uan (lambs' hill) - Meall nan Muc (hill of the pig) - Cnoc Biorach (sharp hill) - Meall Eatharna - and then by Airidh Mhaoraich (shelling of the limpet) to the ford at the head of Arinagour bay where hopefully a car, or chauffeur, is waiting. Along the route there are several gullies: Sloc nan Gobhar (goats' gully), Sloc nan Gamhna (stirks' gully) Sloc Bheamasgaig (cave gully) and Sloc Adhaiceir Mor (big gully)

At Sloc Bhearnasgaig is the cave where legend has it the piper and his dog entered to cross to the other side of the island. The dog appeared minus its hair but the piper was never seen, nor presumably ever heard, again.

A large heronry is sited at Loch Ghillie Chalium.

Along the walk are a number of stone dwellings in ruinous condition particularly at Canada, Port Trealabhaig, Port an Fhion (wine port) and Feisdlum - and considerable peat banks. The peat banks are vast and it is not surprising to learn that in the 1841 census, the Chief Enumerator recorded "there is no influx of inhabitants (to Coll) with the exception of a number of people from the neighbouring island of Tyree that at present are cutting peats for fuel - many of them sleep in outhouses etc." These people are listed at Leacruach, their nearest Coll neighbour being Neil na Buile. Leacruadh is between Feisdlum and Trealabhaig.

This short article cannot hope to cover all of what is a very interesting area. However , it is obvious from the number of ruined houses, peat banks, small ports or jetties, sea fish walls (which are a feature of our own Beauly Firth) etc. that this coast must have supported a substantial number of people. From many points of interest this walks, though tiring, is well worth the effort.

Gaelic placenames and spellings are taken from the 1:25000 Ordnance Survey series and spellings taken from sheets NB/25 and 26. These often vary from the probably correct local spellings. Translations into the English and the information on the 1841 census kindly given by Hugh McKinnon and Betty MacDougall repetitively. Names like Eatharna and even Coll itself are not Gaelic but Norse in origin and have not been translated.
Images associated with this article:-

A map of the walk
Coll Magazine - Article by Olive and Tom Bryers

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