Ardmaddy Castle walk from Melfort Village
Walk 2—Degnish Peninsula and Ardmaddy Castle
Distance From Melfort: 20km/12.4 miles (Return)
Distance From Degnish: 8.4km/5.2 miles (Return)
Max Elevation: 170m/560 ft
Well defined hill track with moderate slopes. On the ascent , the views are down the Sound of Jura, but at the plateau, weather permitting, a panoramic view opens out across the Firth of Lorn to Mull, Ben Buie and as far west as the Ross of Mull.
In the foreground is Seil Island, Ellenabeich village and Easdale Island. Those wishing to walk from Melfort Village have 5.8 km (3.6 miles) of tarmac road to walk past Melfort Pier to reach the hill track starting point. At the starting point there is room to park 2/3 cars.
Degnish – Ardmaddy Castle
Turn right at the main gates, drive/walk along the tarmac road for 5.8 km. Passing Kilchoan Farm, you will encounter two metal gates across the road. The road ends in a locked metal gate, some 650m further on. Take the track which doubles back from the parking area, climbing above and behind Kilchoan Farm. After 1.3km the ground levels out to a moorland plateau, which can be very exposed but affords wonderful views of Mull on a clear day. Pass through the metal gate which forms part of a stone wall (dyke) enclosure. The track continues, undulating a little to the top of Bealach Gaoithe,
pronounced ‘Be-alach Goo-ie’ (“The Windy Pass”).
Descending the Pass, you will see the Wishing Tree, half-way down on the right-hand side. In recent years this Hawthorn tree has fallen down and has been ring-fenced to protect it. Nevertheless you can still see the hundreds of copper coins embedded in the trunk. In Celtic culture the Hawthorn was
regarded as a sacred tree. The practice was to make your wish (or prayer) at the tree then embed a coin in the bark.
Alternatively take a strip of cloth or ribbon, traditionally tartan, make your wish and tie the ribbon to a branch. These were offerings to the spirits and fairies who would either convey your wish to a higher authority or possibly grant it themselves!
Continue down the track to a wooden sheep pen on your left. The track breaks to the left behind the sheep pen and follows the line of a stream down the shallow ravine to your right. On your descent, you may have observed the tower of Ardmaddy Castle above the Pines or enjoyed the view of Balvicar village across Seil Sound. Pass through the metal gate in the stone wall and descend the track (a little stony in places) which snakes behind a couple of houses at Caddleton and emerges on the tarmac road at Ardmaddy Bay. Turn right for the Castle which is 450m ahead.
Return by re-tracing your route.
Historical Note: Ardmaddy Castle
The early tower house of this castle was built by the McDougals in the late 1400s. In 1648 the castle passed into Campbell ownership and over the centuries there have been extensions, alterations and restoration. In 1933 the castle was sold, so passing out of Campbell ownership after nearly 300 years. There is a small interesting garden which is open to the public during spring and summer.
Thank you for taking the time to read our suggested walks.