Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal Rubha an Dunain Cairn

A dreich BH weekend on Skye – day 2 – Rubha an Dùnain

Day 2 of a dreich weekend on Skye (day 1 is here) saw me stay low on the coast and head towards a neolithic chambered cairn that had been spotted on the map. The cairn is situated at Rubh’ an Dunain (Point of the Dun) near the small freshwater loch of Loch Na H-Airde, itself connected to the sea by what is believed to be a late Viking tidal canal (or an early medieval canal and port complex).

I still felt a bit deflated by the climb the day before, we had spent a while looking for the correct route up to Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda and the one we chose was a bit too unclear and vertiginous for my liking, so I’d bailed out. And I felt I’d let the other guys down in doing so. So day 2 was time to settle myself with a bit of monument bothering at a lower contour.

I headed out on my own but with the plan of Mac and Mark joining me at the cairn. The chance to mooch about solo was an appealing one. I’ve written before about how I appreciate these trips away with friends: a mix of social evenings, group walks but often with the chance for some time on my own to noodle at nature, sit in silence and take in the views.

Location Rubha an Dunain Cairn
The blue dot marks the location of the canal and Loch, with the cairn on the north side of the Loch. Our campsite was a walk along the coast at Glen Brittle. The map is via OS / Viewranger.

This part of Skye is particularly rich in history, from the neolithic chambered cairn to and Iron Age Dun and that Viking canal .. and on to later (although still old) croft settlements. I’ve enjoyed reading about British prehistory in the last few years and visited a few (but not as many as I’d like) locations, so to spend some time exploring this historic peninsula was a real bonus.

The whole walk was around 3.5 hours of walking with an extra hour or two for spending time at each of the structures – the cairn, the dun, the canal and the loch. Most of the walk is along a decent enough track but it was boggy in parts and I think that with wetter weather, some of the route that required stream crossing would have been tricker with the water in spate.

Rubha an Dunain Cairn
Some labs sheltering from the wind, en route to Rubha an Dunain Cairn.
Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal  Rubha an Dunain Cairn
Rubha an Dunain Cairn, it’s low lying and you are almost on it before you spot it. I had the place to myself to climb in and sit for a while. I then heard some quietly spoken voices and came out to see who it was. Perhaps Mac and Mark, debating whether to leave me to it or not being sure where I was? There was no one there – which isn’t the first time that’s happened to me in a remote place. A trick of the water? the wind? .. who knows.
Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal  Rubha an Dunain
Once Mac and Mark had caught up with me, we surveyed the canal, the loch and some old croft settlements. The grey skies and the quiet added to the atmosphere of the abandoned structures.
Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal  Rubha an Dunain
Mac, sat on the edge of the cairn and looking possibly to Soay over the water, but from the angle of his gaze more likely to be Rhum and Canna, further away.
Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal  Rubha an Dunain Croft
Mark taking shelter from the wind behind one of the surviving walls of a croft house.
Glen Brittle Loch na h-Airde canal  Rubha an Dunain
Sadly, there was a lot of plastic and shipping / industrial waste brought in on the tides to lie up on the shore of the Loch.

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