Friday, 23 April 2010

Blue Fades to Grey

It was a grey day yesterday in North Mull, although the already parched ground continued to be denied the April showers that usually fall from the clouds at this time of year. It’s not often that gardeners on the island cry out for rain, but a little moisture from the heavens would prevent watering cans from being over-worked this early in the growing season!

The estate at Glengorm provided the venue for our walk and the overcast sky did nothing to dampen our enjoyment or enthusiasm for this magnificent setting, with it’s marvellous outlook North across the Sound of Mull. It is an area rich in local history, with a suggested human occupancy dating back over 4,000 years.

The imposing baronial castle was built during the period of the infamous Highland Clearances in the mid-19th century. The landowner, James Forsyth, evicted the incumbent tenant farmers, in order to finalise plans to make the estate suitable for hunting, fishing and stalking. It is said that one elderly woman that suffered eviction placed a curse on the landowner saying that he would never live to see the castle finished. Forsyth died in a riding accident before the building of the castle was completed in 1863. The castle at Glengorm takes it’s present name from the Gaelic ‘gorm’, meaning ‘blue’ and commemorates the days of the clearances when smoke from the burning homesteads would have filled the glen.

The Standing Stones at Glengorm were erected in a commanding location, looking out to sea. Their position is believed to be aligned with Ben More, the highest mountain on the Isle of Mull. One of the stones fell over and has been re-erected, but not in what was thought to be its original position. The stones are surrounded by an enclosure of rocks that also appears to be more modern in its make-up.

The ancient castle of Dun Ara sits impressively atop a rocky promontory, offering stunning seascapes to the North and West, as far as the eye can see. Yesterday, however, the blue of the sea had merged as one with the grey sky, reducing visibility and all but removing the Small Isles from our view. Occupied by the Mackinnon clan in the Middle Ages, this fort dates back to Iron Age times. If only the rocks of these settlements could speak, what a story concerning man’s involvement on the island would be told. However, like those of the notorious Clearances, perhaps we had better cover our ears, for fear that we might not like what stories we may hear!

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