Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Loch an Ath Ruaidh

In May of 2017 I camped for two nights by a beautiful loch in the remote interior of southwest Lewis. I had not planned to camp there. I'd wanted to make it all the way to the Aird Mhor, at the mouth of Loch Reasort. The hike had started at Kinlochrog. But due to the difficult terrain, after eight hours of hiking I'd only traversed ten miles. My legs were shot, and the pack seemed to get heavier with every step. It was getting late, and Aird Mhor was still another two hilly miles west. So I decided to call it a day and find a campsite. 

Circumstances create memories. The campsite I found was absolutely amazing. It was on the grassy shore of a little loch; a loch hidden in a cradle of hills; hills rich with deer, grouse, snipe, and the occasional eagle.  Oh, and one other thing - hills full of shielings and beehive cells.

The name of the loch is Loch an Ath Ruaidh, the loch of the red-stone ford. It is compact, only about four acres in size. Early hunter-gatherers appreciated this site; plenty of game, fresh water, and shelter provided by the surrounding hills. They liked it so much they built six beehive dwellings around the loch. The following photo, taken near a beehive on the north end of the loch, shows the locations of several of the cells.

Loch an Ath Ruaidh remains one of my favorite Hebridean campsites. I was fortunate in 2017, as it was sunny, with just enough of a breeze to keep the midges away. When I returned to the loch two years later, it was a cold, wet, and windy day. I decided to camp in a different location, as I did not want to ruin the memory of what had been a perfect island campsite. 

What follows are photos of Loch an Ath Ruaidh from 2017. My little blue tent shows up in all but the final photo. That one shows the only company I had during three sunny days in the Aird Mhor.

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