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Waterstein Head

Uploaded by The Rambler Man on Oct 14, 2014
Region: United Kingdom

Route type: Other
Distance: 9.39km, 5.84 miles.   (3)

About trip

Minimum Time: 3hrs 30mins Ascent: 1,500ft Difficulty Level: 2 - Medium Paths: Grassy clifftops and moorland, 2 fences and 1 gate Landscape: Cliff tops high above Atlantic Ocean Dog Friendliness: On short lead - risk of scaring sheep over cliff edges Parking: Ramasaig road end or pull-ins at pass 0.75 mile (1.2km) north Public Toilets: Glendale village hall Description: After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s uprising in 1746, the clan system was swept away. But the clansmen were still there, transformed into crofters. Elsewhere, such subsistence smallholders go by the honourable name of ‘peasant farmers’, with 25 acres (10ha), a kailyard, a cow and some sheep on the hill. Rents rose, partly to support the landlords’ new London lifestyles. Crofting lands were cleared to make way for sheep, and the crofters were forced to relocate, first to the shore and later right out of the country to Canada and Australia. By the late 1800s, they were starting to fight back. In 1882, crofters at the Braes, south of Portree, resisted an eviction. Fifty Glasgow policemen were sent to restore order, and in the ‘Battle of the Braes’ the crofters retaliated with sticks and stones. In Glendale, land-starved crofters deliberately let their cattle stray onto neighbouring farms. Government forces and the gunboat Jackal were defied by 600 crofters. There were four arrests, including John Macpherson, the ‘Glendale Martyr’, and a minister, the Reverend D MacCallum. The ‘martyrs’ received two-month prison sentences. The public outcry that followed saw a newly formed ‘Crofters’ Party’ - distant forerunner of today’s New Labour - send four MPs to Westminster. The first of the Crofting Acts, passed by Gladstone’s government, led to less unfair rents and security of tenure. Today, thanks to those battles of long ago, Glendale and the Braes are inhabited lands where so much of Scotland is bleak and empty. Crofters now have the right to buy and enjoy subsidies and grants from the government. Few crofts provide enough to live on, without a part-time job on the side. As a result there’s a series of small-scale, off-beat and interesting tourist enterprises along the Glendale Visitor Route. Peat became the crofters’ fuel supply and in a few places it is still being worked today. Above Loch Eishort on this walk you’ll see the little triangular stacks, each made from four peats, drying in the wind (and of course getting wet again in the rain). And when it burns, it brings the smell of the wild bog-moss right into the house. While you're there: Dunvegan Castle is one of Scotland’s most visited attractions. For those who prefer the quirky and out-ofthe- way, the Glendale Visitor Route includes the small Colbost Folk Museum and the centre devoted to the famous MacCrimmons of Borreraig, hereditary clan of pipers. The Giant MacAskill Museum, Dunvegan, in a re-antiquated black house, is a small museum to a man, whose height of 7ft 9in (239cm) got him into the Guinness Book of Records. Where to eat and drink: An Strupag Gallery and café at Glendale sells home-made cakes. Dunvegan’s hotels all serve food. The Misty Isle Hotel is inexpensive and Dunvegan Hotel’s restaurant has a sea view with seafood and shellfish dishes on the menu’. Directions: From the end of the tarmac, the road continues as a track past farm buildings, with a bridge over the Ramasaig Burn. After a gate it reaches a shed with a tin roof. Bear right and follow the left bank of Ramasaig Burn to the shore. 2 Cross the burn at a ford and head up a very steep meadow beside the fence that protects the cliff edge. There’s a rather awkward fence to cross half-way up. At the top, above Ramasaig Cliff, keep following the fence on the left. It cuts across to the right to protect a notch in the cliff edge. From here, you could cut down to the parking areas at the nearby road pass. 3 Keep downhill along the cliffside fence. At the bottom, a turf wall off to the right provides another short-cut back to the road. The clifftop walk now bears slightly right around the V-notch of the Moonen Burn. A small path crosses the stream and slants up left to rejoin the clifftop fence, which soon turns slightly inland around another cliff notch. The cliff-edge fence leads up and to the left, to reach Waterstein Head. Here there is a trig point, 971ft (296m) above the sea - the second highest cliff on Skye. Below, you will see Neist Point lighthouse. 4 Return for 0.25 mile (400m) down to where the fence bends to the right, then continue through a shallow grassy col for the slight rise to Beinn Charnach. Here bear right to follow a gently rounded grass ridge-line parallel with cliffs. The highest line along the ridge is the driest. A fence runs across, with a grey gate at its highest point where it passes through a col. Climb over the gate and on up to a cairn on Beinn na Coinnich. 5 Continue along the slightly rocky plateau for 300yds (274m) to the south-east top. Now the Ramasaig road is visible 0.25 mile (400m) away on the left. Go down to join a quad-bike track heading towards the road. Just before reaching the road, the bike track crosses a swampy col. This shows old and recent peat workings. Turn right, along the road, passing above Loch Eishort to the start.

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