Expedition 59 - 17th February 2001
High Mingarry & Domnhuil Dubh Laidir's Bridge

At last the weather was starting to improve and, although it was not sunny all the time, it was good for walking. We had a team of seven explorers, two helpers and three dogs: Amy, David John, Eilish, Iain, John Donaldson, Robin, Robert, Mairi and Tracy, plus Megan the spaniel and Quincy and Mist, the collies.
We parked at Mingarry Hall and John showed everyone a map of the village showing the old 'park' enclosure and where the old shelter woodlands were on the hill, we were to visit two of these later. Then we went through the gate and into the wood, climbing the track up to the first gate, where David John counted the rings on a cut spruce tree, there were 97 rings. John then retrieved a broken bottle from under a tree stump - it was and old Codd's bottle with the name P. MacFarlane Chemist Fort William on it. We continued up the hill and took a detour through a little glade with a row of old oak trees in it.
At the top gate, John pointed out the remains of a house next to the road, badly damaged by the forestry plough. We went through the gate and down to an old building on the east side of the burn which had a stream pool next to it and which John thought could have been the blacksmith's house, it had a small enclosure next door which might have been for horses. Next to the house was a very straight section of stream which had a wall along one bank.
The expedition then moved up onto the High Mingarry ground, stopping for a snack in a field above the road. As we moved through the village we were noting all the houses as we came to them. We carried on through the village until we reached the old Douglas Fir which had been struck by lightning in December 1999. There was some sign of growth of new bark along the scarred trunk. There were lots of old tree stumps around showing that this was once one of the shelter woods.
Then we walked back along the head dyke until we got to Domnhuil Dubh Laidir's Bridge. John explained the story and the explorers examined the old ford and then clambered through the bridge and made a wish.
Once across the bridge we continued along the head dyke until we reached the remains of a second of the old shelter woods. John pointed out a Corsican pine growing close to the new plantation.
Among the stumps were a series of little mounds and everyone had a try at guessing what they could have been for. We found some very primitive houses nearby and one good house by the deer fence. Climbing through the deer fence we examined the row of four good houses in the old village and finally followed the old track to the strange hilltop building before returning to the main track and then back to Acharacle for soup.

The Pictures
Eilish was clearly impressed by the big old oak trees with their precariously balanced dead branches above her and her picture makes them look very insecure, I think she added herself on the bridge as an afterthought, The bridge was the scene of John Donaldson's picture, with everyone shouting and trying to climb out of the ravine, Amy showed the sun's rays in the top left corner, with a dog and someone standing in the water at the top of the ravine.

Robert and lain drew rather sketchy composite views of the expedition showing, the three dogs, an old croft, the struck tree and Domhnuil Dubh Laidir's bridge with its big central boulder, Mairi showed one of the big fallen trees in an old shelter wood with its root plate and spreading branches. David John showed a two-page view of the blacksmith's house with the blacksmith working inside and horses in the enclosure and a man putting a cart wheel into the stream

John Dye

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