Bealach nam Meirleach Drove Road
Start location: A838, West Merkland, north of Loch Merkland (NC 384 330)
End location: Allnabad, Strath More road (NC 462 431)
Geographical area: Sutherland
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 15.6km
Accessibility info: Suitable for Bikes, Suitable for pedestrians
Back to Search
Start near the north-west end of Loch Merkland on the A838 road between Lairg and Durness. Follow the track which goes NNE along the east side of the Allt nan Albannach, then NE by the Bealach nam Meirleach between Meall a’ Chleirich and a chain of three small lochs. Continue along the track down the glen of the Allt a’ Chraois to Gobernuisgach Lodge and the road in Strath More.
OS Landranger 16 (Lairg, Loch Shin & surrounding area) & 9 (Cape Wrath)
The route can be seen on the 1st edition of the 6 inch to the mile OS map which was surveyed in 1873 and the present track was built between 1866 and 1869. Milestones marking the distance to Loch More Lodge, which was the main shooting quarters of the tenant, Earl Grosvenor, existed along the route and there are still at least three still in situ.
A guidebook from the 1940s stated that this was a drove road and this has been repeated since then but it is not at all certain if it ever was used for this purpose. The main gathering place for cattle crossing the Reay Estate was at Mudale, directly east from Loch Merkland - it would therefore not be very direct to travel north east to Gobernuisgach and then south east rather than simply meet the other droves at Lairg.
The route would probably have been used before Earl Grosvenor built the current track and droving was already a well established trade when the Reay Estate was sold to the Countess of Sutherland in 1829 but it is difficult to be able to say whether this route was used for droving cattle or not. Bealach nam Meirleach translates as Thief's Pass so perhaps there was less droving and more cattle rustling along the route.