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Friday, 15 March 2013

The Boguille


The Boguille: even nowadays, on long dark winter nights of swirling fogs, the locals won’t cross it alone. At such times it is still the mountainous barrier it used to be…. separating Lochranza from the rest of the island.

If you travel to Lochranza from Brodick (rather than on the Lochranza ferry from Claonaig on Kintyre) you will have to travel over the Boguille to get here, unless you go the long way round via the String Road and the west coast.

The Boguille is marked on the OS map at G.R. 974483 as a high point of the road at 204 metres. Given that most Celtic place names describe natural features with precision, I have always assumed that boguille means a watershed. Another interpretation is that a boglie in local folklore refers to an elf or fairy (and not necessarily a kind one!). There is a layby close by the high point, on the west side of the road, which gives superb views of the Sleeping Warrior ridge.

The wide and windy expanse of high moorland now crossed by the Boguille Road, was a barrier until 1843 when the road connecting Lochranza to Sannox was built and it meant that most visitors to Lochranza came by sea. Travelling from Brodick, your climb begins at the bridge next to Corrie Golf Course where the island’s perimeter road turns inland from the coast and you have the sharp-fanged jaws of Glen Sannox to your left. At night at this point you leave behind the distant orange glow of the towns of the Ayrshire coast and travel into dark sky country. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the moon rising above the Ayrshire hills making a gleaming path across the Firth of Clyde. Stags will leap out of the glare of your headlights.

As you climb out of Sannox you will see the ruins of old clachans which fell into disrepair after the Clearances. Buzzards, golden eagles, and hen harriers hunt these remote hillsides. It is 1.6 miles from the bridge crossing the rushing burn at North Glen Sannox up to the top of the Boguille. It is then 2.6 miles down Glen Chalmadale, and downhill all the way to the Distillery at Lochranza. If you’re a cyclist do take care: the bends at the Witch’s Bridge and just past Ballarie Farm have seen many incidents. An off-road alternative for walkers and cyclists is to look for the old way into Lochranza on the opposite side of the burn. At least it’s a grassy landing on that side!

Whilst the locals treat the Boguille with wary respect, the local hill sheep enjoy sleeping on it at night. Don’t expect them to move out of your way, just be cunning and whistle- they will think that they have heard the farmer come to feed them and they will charge in a herd down the road to find him.

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