Sunday, March 15, 2015

On Roads to the Isles - 2

Another road to the isles is the route to Crinan. From Inverary you follow the A83 south to Lochgilphead, and then head west on the B841 towards Crinan. Whenever I pass this way I try to take the time to make a diversion south from Bellanoch to see the 6th century Daltote Cross and Kilmory Chapel.

Many people visit Kilmory, but few take the time to see the Daltote Cross. I first learned about it in chapter 3 of T. Ratcliffe Barnett's The Land of Lorne (1933); in which he relates a visit to the cross in the company of one of the sisters that lived in Daltote cottage, which lies on the road 300 feet east of the cross.

To get to the cross you drive south for a mile on the Tayvallich road from Bellanoch (which is next to the Crinan Canal). Here you will reach a left hand turnoff to the minor road to Kilmory Knap. That's the way you want to go, but before heading down this road stop and pay your respects to the beautiful war memorial: a replica of the Kildalton Cross on Islay.

The War memorial
From the memorial follow the road to Kilmory for seven miles until you reach a slight bend in the road (where a private, gated track, heads off to the right). You can leave your car here, as there is just space enough space to park on the west side of the public road. The cross lies a quarter mile down the gated track.

The track beyond the gate leads to the cross
When I first visited the cross there was a sign on the gate that showed a woodland walk down the path. The last time I was there the sign had disappeared - but there is still a sturdy stile that allows you to get past the gate. Once afoot, cross the stile and head south for a quarter mile. At a spot where the track drops and turns hard to the right, keep walking straight for a hundred feet or so into the moss, grass, and bog, and you will see the marker sign for the cross.

Footpath route to the cross
The cross, incised on a large upright slab, is beautiful, but a bit sad; as it's flaking away with the elements. It is carved inside what looks like the mirror symbol you find on some Pictish Symbol Stones, and I wonder if this might be a Christianized symbol stone like the one on Pabbay.

Below the cross is a Holy Well, and here and there you'll find old stones that may mark ancient graves. It is a peaceful spot, and in the three times I've visited over the years I've never run into anyone else. Chances are, though, that you won't be entirely alone, as it can be very midgy. So come prepared for the bugs. See this RCAHMS page for a photo of the cross in better days.  Next time we'll continue on down the road to Kilmory Knap Chapel.

The Daltote Cross

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