The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Chambered Cairn


I definitely agree with Gladman that Julian's fieldnote in TMA doesn't give a true sense of the effort required to reach this splendid site but then I think the route Julian took is shorter than Gladman's suggestion albeit, as I discovered, the advantage gained in terms of distance is offset by having to negotiate a fence. Sitting in the nice cafe at Cladach Chirceboist Uneval (the hill) is prominently visible directly in front of you in a north-easterly direction. It looks a darn sight nearer than it does from the starting-point suggested by Gladman which I originally drove up to. Even though it was a fine sunny day and hadn't (I believe) rained for over a week I still didn't fancy trekking across such a wide expanse of boggy terrain so wondered if I could get to it from the main road (the A865) instead. Driving back down towards the cafe I spotted an open gate on the left, about 150 yards before the cafe, and what appeared to be an abandoned single-track road leading to nowhere. Deciding against driving up this (basically it's just loose gravel, rocks and ruts and pits with nowhere to turn which might be very awkward if it's wet) I parked up and set off walking. Re-reading TMA on my return I see Julian says 'the road soon disappears' so assume he must have gone this way and indeed after about three-quarters of a mile or so it ends in a mass of rubble. At this point Uneval is at about two o'clock so off I traipsed over the bog until I came up to Loch Fada and saw that along the top of it, cutting off the route to Uneval, ran a fence, not a particularly forbidding one but still topped with a couple of strands of barbed wire. Getting over it wasn't a huge deal; I'm a month shy of 60 and still reasonably agile so it shouldn't pose most people any great problem. From then on it was steadily uphill through the bog and gorse, still something of a slog but much less so than if you'd come all the way from Gladman's starting-point. Either way it's well worth the trip, as much for the monument itself as for the stupendous views, all the better for being seen in such piercingly clear light. The people that built this really had an eye for its positioning in the landscape.
I was lucky; in less favourable conditions, both underfoot and overhead, this wouldn't have been half so enjoyable but don't be put off treating yourself to what Julian aptly describes as 'the megalithic chaos' of this wonderful place. Walking back to the car I felt extremely pleased with myself, equivalent to when I made the long hike to White Moor on Dartmoor a couple of years ago. I'd reckon on about 45mins/an hour each way but be warned, there is a lot of bog and a couple of small streams around Loch Fada. I went in up to my calves a couple of times but then I walk too fast and perhaps take less care than I should. The road is shown on the OS map; I think it's the one that goes to the left of Loch Fhaing Bhuidhe though once I'd set off walking I couldn't get it out to check because the wind was too strong so I just kept my eyes glued on Uneval and headed in that direction.
ironstone Posted by ironstone
29th April 2016ce

Comments (3)

Great effort, sir... ironically I've a print from that day in front of me that I was thinking of re-scanning, amongst others. How spooky is that?

As I recall I was put off the southern approach by the crofting enclosures (had a similar experience at Achadh a'Chuirn on Skye last year) so good to hear there is another, shorter option. Classic site.
29th April 2016ce
Thanks; your photos were a definite encouragement to make the effort where like you I was initially frustrated by apparent difficulty of access due to the crofting enclosures; having found that road I was then dismayed to run up against the fence which looked pretty new to me but having got that far I was damned if I was going to give up. I'm so glad I didn't, it was so rewarding when I got there. ironstone Posted by ironstone
30th April 2016ce
Here's to those that view from the other side of the barbed wire fence!

As I mentioned, I'll have a go at re-scanning those old prints later... since you've gone to the trouble of sorting a less daunting route for anyone else who fancies a great day out on Uist.
30th April 2016ce
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