Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Walk to Shiaba

The walk to Shiaba is one of the best on Mull. It is usually done as an in-and-out four-mile walk from Kilvickeon Church. But it can also be done as a long through-hike from Kilvickeon to Gorrie's Leap and then north via Airigh Mhic Cribhain to Beach on the north coast of the Ross of Mull. 

At Shiaba you will find a dozen ruins dating to the early 1800s - it was abandoned in 1937. Most of the township lies a half-mile from the sea, but near the shore you will also find the ruins of fisherman's cottages, and the scant remnants of even older structures: beehive cells, a possible chapel, and a couple of standing stones (see sixth photo).

GoogleEarth view of Shiaba
To get to Shiaba leave your car in the parking area above Kilvickeon Church (see the last post) and follow the track to the east past Scoor Farm. I did this walk in 2007, since then Scoor farmhouse has been converted into self-catering apartments.

Scoor Farm - 2007
Once past Scoor continue to the end of the track near a large sheep wash. Then continue along a vague, but easy to follow route east for another mile. The village covers a large area, and it takes a while to see each house. The best preserved house is known as Shiaba cottage, which I assume was the one that was occupied until 1937 (next three photos).

Shiaba Cottage - 1
Shiaba Cottage - 2
Shiaba Cottage - 3
Standing Stone
When I made this walk in 2007 I intended to carry on to Gorrie's Leap (which you can see in the far distance in a few of the photos). I had tried to get there the year before by walking in from Carsaig, but I was not able to make it. (See chapter 13 of book 1 for the story of that failure.)

But a look across the three miles of rough countryside between Shiaba and The Leap persuaded me that it would be too much of a round-trip for one day, especially as my wife was waiting for me to return in time for dinner at the Ardachy Hotel (which is a wonderful base for exploring the Ross of Mull, Iona and Erraid).

So I turned my back on Gorrie's leap and started the hike back to Kilvickeon. Another two years would pass before I would finally stand atop The Leap - also see book 1, chapter 13. For more information on Shiaba, including details on the walking route, see this Mull Historical Society page. This RCAHMS page also has some - but not much - info on Shiaba. 

Looking east to Gorrie's Leap
Shiaba township
Looking south to the sea

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