Finding Strand: Cattle sale, Loch Ollay

Cattle sale, Loch Ollay (page 115)

This is a lovely slice of long-lost rural life.

Cattle sale, Loch Ollay. Paul Strand, 1962

Cattle sale, Loch Ollay. Paul Strand, 1962

Loch Ollay straddles the A865 north of the Loch Aineort cross roads and is nearly 2 miles long. West of the road it is known on today’s OS map as 'Loch Olaidh Meadhanach' and east, 'Loch Olaidh an Ear'. I guessed the location of the cattle pen might be hard to find because of the potentially large geographical area and lack of obvious landscape clues other than the stone-walled structure itself, and I was proved correct.

Even after driving around the minor road loop to the west, through Ormacleit and close to Casteal Ormacleit and Staoinebrig, and then along the track running east to the south of the Loch (from around grid reference 761312), I could see nothing resembling these stone walls, or even a vista looking anything like the hills and low buildings near the horizon in Strand's image.

Loch Ollay causeway. Mark Farrington, 2016

I didn't have time to bushwhack around both arms of the loch, so I pulled off the road below the low bluff a couple of hundred yards north of the massive, modern-looking causeway carrying the main road over the loch, and climbed the bluff for a better view. The old road is visible to the east, and the profile of the loch shore is somewhat reminiscent of that shown in Strand's image - I do wonder whether the stone pen originally lay somewhere near grid reference 762313 close to the bluff, and its stones were incorporated in to the building of the causeway!

Loch Ollay and the old & new A865. Mark Farrington, 2016

My images were taken close to here (the Squarespace map doesn't show the loch well):


As a substitute I include a couple of images taken above a sheep pen further south close to the B888-South Lochboisdale road at grid reference 755182.

This sheep wash and pen is here: 


On my return visit in May 2017 I drove again around the wide loop to the west of Loch Ollay and took many of the smaller side roads that run down to largely-deserted farms. Nothing doing. I also investigated the 'sheep wash' at 760303 at the western end of the Loch Aineort road, but the arrangement of the walls was wrong as was that of the road and loch.

I think Strand's rocks lie in the Loch Ollay causeway.

After Strand: Tir a'Mhurain

Finding Strand: Croft, Smerclett