Tag Archives: ruin

Bike Ride To Suisnish

Now that I am temporarily on my own on Skye I can do a few things that Di and I are not able to do together. Yesterday’s 26km mountain bike ride from Broadford to Suisnish and back was the first of those. On the outskirts of Broadford there is a well made track called the Broadford Marble Line that follows the railway that used to be there to transport the marble quarried just east of Loch Cill Chriosd. It is very easy and flat, unlike the later part of the route!

The path continues on into the hills, but the bike route goes down to follow the road along the Loch towards Killbride. At a fork the road to Elgol goes right, but I went left towards the coast and a good view of the modern marble quarry that is there. The road stops at Camas Malag, a pebble beach popular with wild campers and with a good view of Blaven (if it is not shrouded in clouds…)

Then followed a few miles of a steep rocky track, sometimes blocked by small ‘lakes’ created by the rain during the last weeks. The goal of the route is the abandoned village of Suisnish. Abandoned is the wrong word as the inhabitants did not leave of their own free will. During the clearances, in October 1853, Lord MacDonald evicted 32 families from their homes and crofts to make way for sheep, which were more profitable. He turned the villagers out into the cold and snow and to prevent them returning, he had their houses burnt down. Apparently one old man went back anyway and was found dead from exposure the next day. Archibald Geikie, a renowned Edinburgh geologist, was visiting the area at the time of this clearance. He later wrote: A strange wailing sound reached my ears. I could see a long and motley procession winding along the road that led north from Suisnish. There were old men and women, too feeble to walk, who were placed in carts; the younger members of the community on foot were carrying their bundles of clothes while the children, with looks of alarm, walked alongside. A cry of grief went up to heaven, the long plaintive wail, like a funeral coronach. The sound re-echoed through the wide valley of Strath in one prolonged note of desolation.

Ruin In Suisnish

Ruin In Suisnish

 

In the early 2oth century someone rebuilt one of the cottages and tried to make a living as a crofter. I don’t know how long the house was inhabited, but now it is used by the sheep to find shelter in bad weather.

Abandoned Home In Suisnish

Abandoned Home In Suisnish

 

After enjoying the lunch I brought and a snooze in the sun I had the much easier return to look forward to. The steep rocky part was fortunately mostly done freewheeling down and about an hour and a half later I was back at the car in Broadford.


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First Walk

Having spent two days driving we left the car where it was this morning and explored our surroundings on foot. The obvious thing to do was to walk down to the shore, go along the coast to Dunscaith Castle and back along the road. After a few hundred yards we found the first of many little flag/indicators from an archeological survey that was carried out in 2010. It found remains of many houses and other structures dating from the Neolithic Period through to the Post-Medieval Period.

Inbhir Amhiabhaig

Inbhir Amhiabhaig

 

Our first goal was to get to the bay that we could see from the house, and in particular to the interesting looking tree that was visible from there. How to get there was not so straightforward because, even though the weather was dry and sunny, the rain of the preceding weeks had turned large parts of the fields in between us and our goal into a bog. We never sank more than ankle deep and our walking boots proved up to the task.

Fisherman's Cottage

Fisherman’s Cottage

When we got to the bay we found the tree and the remains of a fisherman’s cottage. In weather like today’s it may seem an idyllic spot to live the simple life, but it must have been tough in the winter. The fishermen who built the house must have been a foot shorter than me: I could not get through the door opening without bending down. The bay seems an ideal habitat for otters and some sightings have been made here. We were not lucky this time, but I have a feeling that I will come back here often. It is a beautiful place to sit on a rock and just observe what’s going on. The otter may well appear in my field of vision when the telelens is mounted.

Wall From The Cliff To The Sea

Wall From The Cliff To The Sea

 

After some beachcombing we headed southeast along the rocky and pebbly coast line for a mile or so. A shag, some oystercatchers, crows, robins and seagulls  provided some interest while we carefully negotiated our way on sometimes slippery rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After  a bit longer than anticipated we turned the corner and saw the bridge that connected Dunscaith Castle to the mainland. It’s only a gap of 20 feet or so, but for the defense of the castle that little gap was very important. Originally the castle belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat. At some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod. In the 15th century the castle was captured by King James I of Scotland. The MacDonalds were allowed to keep possession of the castle, but they abandoned the castle in the early 17th century. Now there are only some remains of the walls and the well inside the enclosure.

View From Dunscaith Castle

View From Dunscaith Castle

Getting into the castle was a bit tricky and required some careful balancing on a small ledge, while holding on to the wall. If Di had observed this manoeuvre it would no doubt have elicited anxious cries of “Ruudje, niet doen.” As it was I safely negotiated the gap and was rewarded with the vie above.

The entrance to the castle was once guarded by a wooden drawbridge, which covedred the big hole led to tvisible in the image below and led to the set of stairs that went into the castle. I think I would have felt pretty safe in my castle.

Dunscaith Castle Entrance

Dunscaith Castle Entrance

 


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Lastours

Lastours is about 12 miles north of Carcassonne, in the Montaigne Noir. This small town is famous for the group of four castles, towers really. The path up there is steep in places, but well maintained and safe. The views from the top are magnificent, especially when there is a dramatic sky. The view of the castles below is from a special ‘belvedere’ on the hill opposite. You have to pay an entrance fee to get to that viewpoint, unless you have paid the fee for climbing up the path to the castles.

Four Castles At Lastours

Four Castles At Lastours

 

 

Cabaret And Tour Régine

Cabaret And Tour Régine

 

Cabaret Castle

Cabaret Castle

Thinking

Thinking

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Château d’Arques

Yes, I think I would have felt safe there, living on the top floor.

It was built after Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in the 13th century. The land was given to Pierre de Voisins, one the lieutenants of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester. In the town there is an interesting little museum, mainly about the Cathars. It gives some information about the various views and opinions about this group of anti-catholic Christians. One of the views is that the Cathar were not all that important, but that the ‘myth’ was created and is developed and maintained to promote tourism in the area. This endeavour, if that is what it is, was helped by the books of Kate Mosse: Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel. They are set in different periods of history in the Languedoc and deal with the Cathar story.

 

Château d'Arques

Château d’Arques

 


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