A crisp winters day filled with ancient rocks and an iron age fort.

IMG_5708

Knockan CragĀ  is located in the North West Highlands Geopark, one of the most important geological sites in Europe. It is a site where Geologists flock to see evidence of the Moine Thrust. At just 13 miles north of Ullapool and alongside the A835 it’s very easily accessed and well worth a visit.

Knockan crag was designated a National Nature Reserve in 2004 and includes a ‘Rock Room’, several trails around the crag , rock art and poetry. It’s also the home of many diverse plants & wildlife.

The story of Scotlands ancient geological history is fascinating and really well explained in the rock room. There is a wonderful sculpture of Benjamin Peach and John Horne who spent many years mapping the area and in 1907 eventually resolved the long running dispute surrounding the Moine Thrust – a massive earth movement that occurred 425 million years ago and first recognised at Knockan Crag.

We visited Knockan Crag on a rather chilly January day, the trails around the crag were covered in snow and some areas were pretty treacherous, luckily we had our walking poles with us, something we would recommend if walking here during winter.

The bonus of coming here in winter was the fantastic frozen scenes, hundreds of icicles were clinging to the long strands of drooping grass or hanging from the rock faces.

Heather and mosses were suspended in their frozen ice cages.

IMG_5733

From one of the viewpoints on the Crag Top trail half a dozen deer were scratching through the snow to get to the grass.

IMG_5741IMG_5742

The views all along the trail looking over the Inverpolly estate are pretty spectacular. The hills of Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Ben Mor Coigach can all be seen from the trail and look amazing with their snowy blankets.

IMG_5750

IMG_5746

One of the art sculptures along the Crag Top trail is ‘Thrust’ designed by Frances Pelly, it’s a great structure interpreting the movement of the Moine Thrust and the many different rock types found at Knockan Crag.

IMG_5751

After our visit to Knockan Crag we headed back down the A835 towards Ullapool and stopped at a magical little loch, Loch Cul Dromannan to admire the reflections of the trees and snow dusted hills on the water.

IMG_5787

IMG_5776

Taking the turning at Strathcanaird signposted Blughasary the road winds down to a very small parking area. From here there is a footpath heading down to the beach and the remains of the iron age fort – Dun Canna, a mile in there is a fork in the path where you can either continue to the Dun or climb up the hill and head for Achiltibuie.

IMG_5789

The track is fairly easy going there are some very wet spots which need negotiating, on this occasion the ground was pretty hard and frosty but i can imagine after a spell of prolonged wet weather sections of the path would be very wet. Certainly a walk for a frosty day or a sunny dry day.

IMG_5795

As we reached the Dun the sun had almost slipped behind Beinn Ghobhlach so sadly we there wasn’t much time to dawdle.

The Dun remains are really impressive and have been dated to be over 2,500 years old. It would have a been quite a substantial structure in it’s day, based on the spread of the rubble it has been suggested that the original wall thickness would have been between 3 & 5 metres thick.

IMG_5797

IMG_5799

IMG_5803

IMG_5806

IMG_5807

At low tide in the bay below the dun there is evidence of a viking fish trap which was added in the 8th century.

IMG_5826

A fantastic setting with spectacular views, we shall be back to spend more time appreciating this beautiful spot.