Exploring the local history in Mingarry and surrounding area

Exploring the local history in Mingarry and surrounding area

Ruins of Moidart

Exploring the local history in Mingarry and surrounding area.


This January we have been in lockdown like the rest of the country and we have used our daily exercise, especially at weekends, to go and explore the ruined villages not far from Garmoran.

Most of our walks have started from Garmoran and have taken us through the village of Mingarry, passing the old school and church, and up through the woodland area that leads to High Mingarry. (The school and church were built by Hope Scot in 1862 when they owned The Lochshiel Estate). This is a great walk just on its own if you are looking to for a 30-45min stretch of the legs. The track up through the woods starts just after the bridge along from the church. This track was built by Lord Howard of Glossop in 1890, the then owner of the estate. It is believed it was built to allow family and friends to head up the hill for picnics.

Once you head all the way up the track and over the last bridge you come out of the woods to the clear open hills. Though there were settlements up in this area, most are totally ruined with only stones laying on the ground and hard to locate in the heather and bracken. Information on this part of Mingarry can be found on the Moidart History website The High Mingarry Walk (moidart.org.uk) and pictures and further information can be found Microsoft Word - ahSources (moidart.org.uk)

From here we walked, following the Mingarry burn, up into the hills where there are several hill lochans. The first time we then took more of a left route down towards Loch Moidart, where we walked across the Silver walk and down into the deserted village of Port a’ Bhata (bay of the boats). This village is best seen in the winter and spring months as the bracken around the area get very tall and makes getting to the village difficult later in the year.

I find this is a great village to really get a feel of how people would have lived, what life must have been like and how hard it would have been to survive. It has some great examples of the houses that are still in surprisingly good condition, some with gable ends still intact. You can also see how building techniques improved over time, from the small one room black houses with no windows or fireplaces, to the biggest house with a walled garden, bigger windows, (which were glazed), and a slate roof.

There is an excellent article written on the village on the Moidart History website   Port a' Bhata (moidart.org.uk)

We were extremely fortunate the day we did the walk to Port a’Bhata, with regards to the weather and even managed a flask of soup once we got there. With some prior planning we had parked a car in the Dorlin carpark. Hence, we were able to walk out of the village back onto the Silver walk and then took this path all the way to Castle Tioram and onto the carpark.

On our next adventure we were not so lucky with the weather and it was a miserable day. However, with all our waterproofs on we headed back up to High Mingarry and again up to the lochans. This time we found the start of Alt a’ Mhuilinn and followed it down to Loch Moidart.

This really was a bit precarious in places and care is needed, especially on a wet day. You need to zig zag the burn several times just to try and find the easiest way down. However, it is all worth it as there is a lot of interesting ruins along the burn, some of which we believe to have been an illicit still!

Once down to the bottom you come to the ruined Mill House which was abandoned around 1800 due to lack of water in the burn. Even though, in places, it looks like they tried to dam the burn to help. Again, more information on this can be found on the Moidart History website at the bottom of the Port a’ Bhata page.

Again, a bit of forward planning was required, and we left a car parked at Kinlochmoidart, so from the Mill house we joined the Silver walk turning right and heading out to Kinlochmoiart. Please note there is forestry works being carried out at the Ardmolich end and you must exit the Silver walk across the field at the head of Loch Moidart, but it has been well signed by the forestry.


Note: The Hills above Garmoran Square are part of Loch Shiel Estate Ltd and stalking does take part in this area, so best to check if before you start.

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t: +44 (0)1967 431 456
e: susan@garmoransquare.com

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