This was a strange place of varying thoughtfulness. Having previously visited Aoineadh Mor and found its handful of ruined crofts more thought-provoking, this was rather the opposite experience: having far more settlements dating back thousands of years including cairns, a souterrain and remains of crofts, with a history of particularly brutal evictions, there’s no real viewpoint from which one can see the extent of the clearing and experience all the time or place at once, so it lacks a certain atmosphere.
One thought, however. The Highland Clearances were mostly for the purposes of replacing crofting (seen as not cost-effective) with sheep farming (supposedly profitable). In practice, it’s a story about commercial failure: the sheep did not prove profitable, rendering the grassland barren; the monoculture spruce woodlands being farmed as the latest cash-crop are also barren, failing to nourish the land; the eviction of folks living a subsistence existence (which increasingly feels the innocent honest approach) was an offence against humanity – and yet the blasted sheep still remain.
The state of the Forestry Commission’s tourist information boards also being cast down on the ground, however, did provoke thought – is that sheer vandalism, an artistic statement about care and decay of property, or super-artistic irony that preservation itself should go the same way of all things?
The landscape did provide a few moments of beautiful contrast, illuminating the foreground trees against the shadowy dark might of Ben Loyal, however: