Friday, June 5, 2015

Tigh nam Bodach - Glen Cailliche

I first came across Bodach and Cailleach stones when I visited the island of Gigha (see the March 18, 2013 post). After that visit to Gigha I came across a site called 'Tigh nam Bodach' on OS Landranger map 50 (NN381427). A little research showed it to be a another pre-Christian shrine; a little stone house with not only Bodach and Cailleach stones like Gigha, but a nighean (daughter) stone, along with other stone children.

Even more fascinating was that a local shepherd still took on the responsibility of storing the stone family securely in their little house every Samhain, and then returning on Beltane (in May) to set them out for spring and summer. A tradition that has been carried on for centuries.

And so seeing Tigh am Bodach of Glen Cailleach was always on my list of things to do after an island adventure. But doing so requires dedicating a day to walk up Glens Lyon and Cailliche, a 10-mile round trip that also requires a long drive to Loch Lyon Dam. And so last week, twenty years after learning about the stone family of Glen Cailliche, I finally made the long drive, and walk, to Tigh nam Bodach.

To do that my wife and I decided to end three weeks of island-going this May with a stay on the mainland at the the Bridge of Lochy Hotel in Killin, a 25-mile drive from Loch Lyon. It was a beautiful drive up the western shoulder of Ben Lawyers to Bridge of Balgie, and then west to Loch Lyon. I parked below the dam, and then hiked up to a jeep-track that took me along the north shore of Loch Lyon.

The 10-mile (round trip) route to Tigh nam Bodach
Loch Lyon Dam
Loch Lyon Dam seen from the start of the track
As it turned out, the walk to Tigh nam Bodach was easy. For although the OS maps shows that the jeep track along the north shore of Loch Lyon ends halfway to Tigh nam Bodach (at the entrance to Glen Meran), a track now goes all the way to the site, and beyond; possibly part of the survey effort for the power line route that was considered, and eventually rejected, through Glen Cailliche.

The track heads west along Loch Lyon
After two miles I came to a little waterfall called Eas Eoghannan.

Eas Eoghannan
Then, another mile on, after passing several ancient settlement sites, the track turned north to follow the Allt Meran into Glen Meran; a glen that may be named after St Mirrin of Inchmirrin on Loch Lomond.

Old settlement site
Up into Glen Meran - the muddy jeep track at the right
As you can see, although it was late May, the weather had been atrocious, and there was still snow on the hills to the north. Halfway up Glen Meran the main jeep-track turned left to ford the Allt Caillaiche river, and continue along the northern shore of Loch Lyon. But I kept going north along another muddy track that forded the Allt Meran before turning west up Glen Cailliche. The track climbed the hillside below Beinn a' Chreachain, and a mile later I saw a cluster of sheep grazing around a small structure a few hundred feet below the track.

Sheep at Tigh nam Bodach
The sheep fled as I approached. Soon I was standing before Tigh nam Bodach; just myself and the stone family. The sheep had knocked over all the child-stones, so I spent a minute setting them upright.

Their house is small (just the right size for them). I would have crawled inside, but the sheep had been in it, and the straw put on the ground to keep the family warm in the winter was a bit messy. (See this link to learn how the little house was restored in 2012.)

Inside Tigh nam Bodach
Before heading back down the glen I gave each of the family a drink of Icelandic spring water I'd saved from the flight to Glasgow - though I doubt if they were thirsty, as it had been raining for several days. Fortunately the rain paused for most of my walk, and I was blessed with sunshine at Tigh nam Bodach.

It had taken me an hour to drive from Killin to Loch Lyon, and then nearly three hours to walk the five miles to the site. All-in-all I invested eight hours to visit the stone family of Glen Cailliche; eight hours well spent.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely pictures Marc. A walk which is well worth it. I once knocked myself silly when I merged a much looked forward to visit to the Cailleach and her family with an expedition to fish the Lochan a Chreachain high on Meall Beag. I did it as a circular walk in from Loch Tulla at Blackmount. It nearly killed me. But worth it visit the Cailleach and her family.