In reading what little I could find about beehive cells, there were two remote sites that sounded fascinating: Fidigidh Uachdrach and Fidigidh Iochdrach (Upper and Lower Fidigidh). The Fidigidh is a river in the interior of Lewis that flows south into Loch na Craobhaig, a mile and a half north east of Hamanavay. One of the sites at Fidigidh is depicted in the following drawing in the Proceedings of Scottish Antiquaries, Vol 3, p. (1857).
|Depiction of how Fidigidh once looked|
There is no easy way to Fidigidh; a walk from the west means hiking the track from Uig over Bealach Raonasgail to Cean Chuisil, and then cross-country to the east, for a one-way distance of about 9 miles. An eighteen mile round-trip in one day is just at the limit of my capability, so I tried to do this in the summer of 2013. The first seven miles was along the private track to Hamanavay, which I left at a point south of a hill called Mula. From there I headed east across the open countryside. It was then that the heavens opened up; wind, rain, and the occasional sleet storm. It was slow going. With a mile to go I came to the Abhain Ghascleit, a river that flows south out of Loch Dibidale. It was in spate, and I walked up and down its banks in a fruitless search for a safe crossing. I had to give up, and as I retraced my steps back to Uig I promised myself I'd try again someday by coming in from the east.
So last May I decided to make a through-hike. I'd go from Morsgail to Fidigidh, then up the west side of Loch Grunavat to Carisiadar (and the highway) on the shores of Loch Roag. The distance would be 16 miles. A possibility for a one day hike, but since there was so much to see I wanted to take my time, and decided to take a tent and make it a two-day expedition.
The first few miles were familiar territory: south past Morsgail Lodge, down the east side of Loch Morsgail, and then south along the boggy quad-bike track to the Morsgail beehives.
From the beehives I crossed the telegraph pole bridge over the Abhainn Bheinn na Gile, and then carried on another half-mile to start following the Postman's Stones that lead the way south to Kinlochresort. I only followed them a short ways, as Fidigidh lies to the west. But I did want to follow them for a little bit to the south in order to pay a visit to my favourite postman's stone.
|The route to Fidigidh|
|The Morsgail Beehive Cells|
|Telegraph pole bridge over the Abhainn Bheinn na Gile.|
|My favourite Postman's Stone|
|Shielings at Loch Leatha|
|Crossing Allt Leatha|
|Loch Cro Criosdaig|
|Can you spot the beehive? (Bothan Ruadh is at the centre)|
|Bothan Ruadh and the Abhainn Fidigidh|
I needed to cover more distance before calling it a day. So I followed the Abhainn Fidigdh up to Fidigidh Uachdrach (Upper Fidigidh).
|Fidigidh - 3|
|Fidigidh - 4|
I followed the east bank of the Abhainn Fidigidh north past several other shieling sites, then crossed the stream to head up the glen between the hills of Kirabhal and Mula Chaolartan. The map showed a large cluster of shielings on the ridge of Lurga Kirabhal, just above the shore of Loch Chaolartan. Thinking it might be a good campsite I made my way there.
What I found was a shieling site that had been cannibalized to make what looked like a giant sheep fank. It looked like it had not been used in years, and was not an appealing place to camp. So I carried on north thinking to cross the stream that flows out of Loch nan Uidhean.
|Fank at Lurga Kirabhal - Loch nan Uidhean to the left|
Several deer stood on the hillside above, watching as I pitched the tent, occasionally barking at me like dogs. Dinner was a delicious tuna sandwich my wife had made, and a bag of smoky bacon crisps washed down with a can of Export. Beer never tastes better than after you've lugged it across 10 miles of hard terrain, the tent is pitched, and the sleeping bag awaits.
|Campsite at Gearraidh Chromadh an t-Seile|
|Rubha Dubh - The Black Point|
So the people of Uig stole the stone and started carrying it back to Uig. Angus found out and pursued them by sailing north to Mealasta. There was a battle, and Angus and his three sons were killed. In West Over Sea, Daphne Pochin Mould mentions that she was told there were four mounds on the Black Point of Loch Grunabhat that marked the graves of Angus and his sons.
Although it was just an old story (Angus and his sons were killed fighting the Norse in 1210), I still wanted to see the mounds on the Black Point. Fortunately the point, which is almost an island, is fairly small. I walked over ever square foot of it, but the only mounds I found were natural humps of turf. There was no sign of anything man-made. It was disappointing, and the three wild sheep on the point must of thought I was trying to catch them.
|On the Black Point - no graves here|
|Cleit Milebhat beehive|
|The corbelled roof of the Milebhat cell|
|The tiny entrance to the Milebhat cell|
From the cell I walked due north, following a series of posts that mark the route to the cell if you come in via Carisiadar. Once around the north end of Loch Grunabhat I climbed through the narrow pass between the hills of Suainabhal and Ainebhal to reach a peat track that took me to the highway at Carisiadar. I was on time, and saw my wife sitting in the car with a big smile on her face. I gave her a kiss, and she gave me a cold beer in return.