|Visited 29th October 2012
Deepdale is one of those stones often viewed, its prominent position on a ridge overlooking the main Stromness to Kirkwall road means you always see it peeking into view as you drive along the main road across the island. Actually visiting it though is not quite as straightforward, there being no obvious place to park up anywhere near to the stone, which is why I've always admired it from a distance until today.
I parked at the nearby chambered tomb of Unstan (itself a must see) and took a brisk walk along the A965 towards the stone, which can be seen atop its ridge even from Unstan. Although busy by Orkney standards the trek along the road is not too onerous, and only takes about ten minutes. If you wanted to park a peedie bit closer then there is a pull in (probably for the benefit of fishermen) just over the Bridge of Waithe to your left (if you are heading in the Stromness direction). As you approach the stone an obvious muddy rutted track heads up the rise, but I wouldn't fancy risking taking a vehicle on it unless it was a 4x4 or tractor! Past the large mound of old tyres at the top of the track the stone is clearly visible, although on the other side of a low barbed wire fence. I managed to step over the said obstacle, as I couldn't see an obvious gate into the field from this direction.
I'm actually quite glad I approached the stone in this way, I like having a bit of a walk in to a site, rather than just pulling up and piling out of the car, in some ways it feels more adventuresome, and fires my imagination, feeling like a quest or pilgrimage to these places, particularly as here at Deepdale you can see the stones in view all the way as you approach, beckoning you on. It's probably why I romanticise these places so, the idea of a quest to visit even smallest little stump of stone enough to set my heart fluttering, and it's all part of the experience of visiting a site, soaking in the atmosphere, which for me is the main thing, rather than just ticking another site of the list.
There is cetainly plenty of atmosphere here today, the clear wintry light over the loch seems surreal, the primary colours of the water and the Orkney landscape as vivid as a child's painting, and the haunting call of Curlews and Oystercatchers floating over the loch.
Now I'm sat on a comfortable tussock of grass which has established itself over one of the chocking stones at the base of the menhir, providing a comfortable seat to look out over the lovely view across the Loch of Stenness, the diamond shaped Deepdale stone at my back. I can see most of the sites of the sacred Brodgar landscape from here, Maes Howe clearly visible, and the tiny forms of the distant Stones of Stenness can just be made out.
From here I can also see an interesting looking stone in the field boundary to the east, and on closer inspection it looks as if it could possibly be a standing stone, it is certainly seperate from the fenceline, and I'll post a picture so that maybe someone may be able to shed some light on it.
People may wonder how I can rabbit on and get so enthused by what is in effect a stone in a field (I've encountered several farmers in my time that held this view!), but enthroned here in this wonderful landscape, sat by this ancient stone, it really answers the question of why I do this.
Posted by Ravenfeather
3rd November 2012ce