Empty glens – a brief look at Highland Clearance history

Driving north west along the Strath of Kildonan from the small village of Helmsdale on the Sutherland coast you pass through mile after mile of almost empty glen. The houses are few and scattered sparsely along the wide, fertile strath. But it wasn’t always empty like this. In fact, two hundred years ago it was very different with a relatively large population living in many small scattered communities throughout the glen. If you stop and look at the lower slopes of the hills, all about are remains and ruins of numerous pre-clearance crofting townships.
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Cul Beag: a Good Friday walk

Cul Beag, Coigach

What was this? Glorious weather on a bank holiday! Unheard of in Scotland. To make the most of this weather and to avoid most of the Bank Holiday crowds we headed west to Coigach an area of wild land – hills and lochs – northwest of Ullapool. As we had climbed Cul Mor on a previous trip we decided to tackle the wee brother, Cul Beag. We thought this would be an easy walk to get us back into the hills after a bit of a hiatus.

We studied the map for the area and considered the long gradual approach from the east, however we thought this looked a bit far for a late start (it was almost 1pm before we approached the single-track road to Achiltibuie). Instead we chose to take the short, steep ascent from the west.
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