|I visited the Ballochmyle walls last summer with my partner and our two boys.
We didn't have much clue as to where we were going - all we had was a road atlas and the directions in the Modern Antiquarian.
This part of the Ayr valley is truly enchanted. The valley is narrow, deep and heavily wooded - these woods are ancient. The surrounding land outside and above the valley is rolling green pastureland, so when you descend into the valley you feel like this is just a different world.
Our search for the walls turned into a true quest lasting an hour and a half of me scrambling around, losing, finding and losing the family. While searching, I was down by the river - it's deep and dark and goes slow beneath great red sandstone cliffs on either side with these little red beaches at your feet, and the green canopies high above and all around. There's also a huge red stone Victorian viaduct which straddles the valley nearby.
What a feeling when we found the walls!
They consist of 2 vertical cliff faces with a variety of cup / ring / animal and phallic symbols carved into the soft and brittle sandstone.
The cliffs were only rediscovered less than 20 years ago, so their current exposure leaves the carvings vulnerable to erosion - before rediscovery they were covered in thick vegetation.
The carvings are unusual, in that they are on vertical, not horizontal sheets, but quirks of a wider culture are understandable down there in that valley.
Also not usual in Scotland(?) is the animal carvings - the only other possible prehistoric animal carving I've seen in Scotland was at Dunaad.
You could spend all day here - the surroundings were warm and serene that day but the walls had a dark red drama that took our breath away. Our gameboy / pokemon obsessed boys were held in wonder and that was great to see.
It's a bugger to find though and I can't shed much light on how we found it other than to take a better map than we had.
Came back here with Norie of the pictures.
I dont know if it's my imagination but the walls looked to have deteriorated a bit.
And somebody has been at the carvings with a mix of charcoal, chalk and wax crayon.
This kind of thing is bad enough on horizontal sheets of hard rock but to arse about with these walls is plain vandalism as the rock is crumbly sandstone and the rain wont get a chance to wash the crayon etc. away as these are vertical cliffs.
It still remains a very special place but I felt pretty pissed off after this visit.
Posted by winterjc
14th November 2001ce