The Moorings Hotel on the banks of The Caledonian Canal by Neptune's Staircase
An interesting walk to the small halmet/clachan of Bourbliage located on the southern shore of the Ardnamurchan peninusula on the south-east flank of Ben Hiant, between Camus nan geall and Macleans' Nose. The settlement occupies a 14 acre site, between 100 and 150 metres above sea level and lies at the confluence of some minor tributaries. The settlement may also be the site of the Battle of Muirbulg which was fought in 731 between the Picts and the Dalriadic Scots.
The village (clachan) consists of the remains of around 36 unroofed buildings of drystone construction (dwelling houses, barns, byres), two enclosures, a field system and a head dyke. The settlement was cleared in 1828 by the landowner, Sir James Riddell, with the land given over to sheep grazing.
The settlement/clachan has been designated as a monument of national importance by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on account of the state of preservation of many of its buildings and the 'complex architectural information' which provide valuable insights into 'the way of life and the architecture of post-Medieval communities in this area of Scotland.
The walk also affords some good opportunities for botanising and wildlife spotting. The species-rich damp grassland/heath with its drier mounds/rocky outcrops and wet flushes supports a variety of plants, including self heal, thyme, common sorrel, harebell, lady's mantle, common cat's-ear, white clover, red clover, yarrow, St John's wort, bird's foot trefoil, fragrant orchid, heath spotted orchid, northern marsh orchid, primrose, devil's bit scabious, lousewort, bluebell, cuckoo flower heather, bell heather, heath bedstraw, milkwort and tormentil. Carnivorous plants include round leaved sundew and butterwort.
In the wetter areas, look out for cross-leaved heath, yellow flag iris, meadow sweet, cotton grass, marsh valerian, marsh thistle, creeping buttercup, ragged robin, bog asphodel, bog myrtle, marsh lousewort, marsh marigold and water forget-me knot. The remains of the buildings also support patchworks of crustiose lichens.
Butterflies and moths you may see on route include migrants such as red admiral, painted lady and silver Y moth, as well as orange tip, green-veined white, small white, common blue, small heath and meadow brown. Damselflies include large red and the beautiful demoiselle. Look out for one of Brittan's largest dragonflies, the striking golden-ringed dragonfly, with its black and yellow abdomen and bright green eyes, as well as numerous four spotted chasers.
Listen out for wheatear, meadow pipits, stonechat and skylark in the vicinity of the settlement. This is also a good place to see red deer in the surrounding hills and golden eagle soaring above the crags around Ben Hiant, as well as white-tailed eagle.
The site also affords some fine coastal and hill views of Morvern and Mull across the Sound of Mull.
Please note that the walk is mainly across rough uneven damp grassland with boggy areas. You can also head down towards the coast (shingle beach) if desired. Stout shoes are essential.
- Once past Camus nan Geall, look out for some off road parking by the side of the B8007, within walking distance of a short track on the south-west of the road, the access point to the village from above.
- From the B8007, walk up the track where you will find an interpretation board on the settlement of Bourblaige by the gate to the field.
- Pass through the metal gate and walk along the fencelike to the right until you see the ruined houses and then head towards the settlement of Bourblaige. The path can be very boggy and uneven. Alternatively, pass to the south of the small hill in front of the gate and follow a faint track down through the field to the village (see map for approximate route).
- Take time to explore this interesting settlement, which is one of the best preserved cleared settlements on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
- You can also extend the walk by heading down towards the coast where there is a good chance of seeing golden eagle soaring over the crags.
- Return by the same route or alternatively join the Camus nan Geall walk eastwards along the shores of Loch Sunart.
starting grid ref:
- there and back