Kilvickeon Cemetary & Beach and
The Lost Townships of Scoor & Shiaba
day out exploring the southern coast of the Ross of Mull. Grand cliff top
views, remote beaches, and an abandoned Highland township.
341,342 and 353 1:25,000;
MAP OS EXPLORER 373 Iona, Staffa and The Ross of Mull.
Car required. An all day excursion, 9 miles in
distance (including return).
The starting point lies 2 miles south of the
village of Bunessan on the Ross of Mull. From Seaview travel eastwards
along the A849. On leaving Bunessan take the sharp bend at the east end of
the village and drive up the hill. At the hills crest, turn right at the
sign for Assapol and Scoor. Travel along the tar road past Loch Assapol.
Open and go through the gate onto a reasonable dirt track road.
road up the hill and park at the side of the track (car park marked) opposite Kilvickeon
This is lying in the fields to the right (west) below you.
Cemetary & Beach
your car turn west off the main dirt track and walk down the small track
to the bottom of the 1st little slope. Turn right through the gate, across
the field to Kilvickeon church and cemetery. This site can be seen all the
way down from the car park.
is the only medieval parish church dating from the 13th century on the Ross of Mull, of which there are
many worthwhile remains. Believed to have been built on a pre-existing
Christian site, Kilvickeon translates from the native Gaelic as
'Church of the son of Eoghan' - Eoghan was a nephew of St Columba.
With Iona, the cradle of Christianity, so near at hand many of the
missionaries would have passed through the area as they went off on
Kilvickeon was linked or united with many other local parishes in
its history, ending up as the Parish Church of Kilvickeon with Kilninian
which served the whole Ross of Mull, before its final demise in 1804
when the present Parish Church in Bunessan was built. We know from the
First Statistical Account (c 1792) that the original building had been
in dire straits for some time. Today, the ruin stands in the midst of
its burial ground, in a bleak and windswept part of the island, but with
an atmosphere all of its own.
The entrance to the church is still there. The
original door of the arch must have been secured by a drawbar as the deep
socket onto which the bar slid can be seen on the right hand wall of the
arch. To the left of the door above you is a piece of carved sandstone,
now weathered. It could have been known as what was called a 'sheela-na-gig',
a lewd or suggestive figure placed on a wall as a mark of defiance. Inside
the church there is a tombstone lying flat on the ground upon which the
words HIC IACET MARIOTA FIL IA… (here lies Mari(o)a, daughter of….)
are inscribed. This is known as the
Stone - carved on it you
can just make out the shape of an early sword. For a personal view of the
church yard visit
The Hazel Tree
Return to the track and
continuing down you come to a picturesque beach
divided by an island at low tide. A splendid spot for a family picnic and
swim or a beachcomb.
| Scoor & Shiaba
(The Hill of Six Cows )
to the main dirt track at the top of the hill and turn right following the
road to Scoor House, leaving your car at Kilvickeon car park. Go left
past the front of Scoor House through the gate and follow the track
through the fields to the gate at the top of the field. On passing it,
you climb to the top of the ridge then turn left and follow the ridge
towards the forest across the valley.
Soon you will spot the track to the deserted
township of Shiaba below you. Follow the rough path through the moorland
watching out for grouse and birds of prey as you go. Soon you see the
gable end of a building with other ruins around it sitting on a fertile
grassy mound above cliffs.
Over three hundred and
fifty people lived here at the end of the eighteenth century and the remains of their
round-cornered houses and boundary walls marking their croft lands can be
In 1841, 126 people lived in 22
cottages, by 1881 two old and ill people remained. John Campbell, the Duke
of Argyll’s factor raised rents, took the people’s pasture land and forced
them from their cottages, not only in Shiaba but throughout the area. His
cruelty and harshness aroused ill feeling and hatred that is still felt
today in the memories of the Ross of Mull people.
Highland clearances came and the emigrant ships took people away from the
beaches below. Follow down past the houses to the deer fence near the
shore and follow it east back up the hillside. Here you are likely to see
deer, eagles and wild goats. At one point you are fairly near the cliff
edge so please be careful of your footing! Continue onto the high ground
and look east across to the 1000ft cliffs at Malcolm's Point with the Carsaig Arches just visible at their foot. The scenery and atmosphere is
so special to this area that you are likely to stop often and gaze in
wonder at it all. The seascapes in the distant south and east are that of
the islands of Islay,
Colonsay and Jura. This is a walk John and Jane have done on a handful of
occasions with Megan and enjoyed many a picnic amongst the ruins
enjoying the sunshine.
For a personal view and some great photos of the walk visit
inland return to the deer fence and follow it until you reach a gap which
brings you to higher moorland. Find the trig pillar and climb to Cruachan
Min. From here you can see a whole host of islands: Islay, Jura, Scarba, Lunga, Luing, Mull, Colonsay, Staffa, Coll, Tiree and Iona.
home south and west through the wide firebreak which has a gate at each
end. At the bottom of the firebreak is a shallow valley where there was a
battle between Mull men and the MacPhee's of Colonsay. It is said the Mull
men ambushed the MacPhee's and sent them packing back home with their
thumb's cut off to make it difficult for them to row back home!
Locate the Shiaba track at the other side of the valley and the last mile back to
wild goats, buzzard, kestrel, golden eagles (along the skyline) and
seabirds on the cliffs. Woodland birds including woodcock, wood pigeon,
jackdaw and rooks. Moorland birds
include whinchats, skylark, wheatear and red grouse.