|After spending most of Christmas eating and drinking, I decided it was time for some exercise, and set out after lunch today to try out one of my new presents - a pair of Goretex Windstopper cycling gloves from Grandma & Grandpa.
I loaded the bike into the back of the car, and headed up to Dunkeld, through Strathbraan, and up Glen Cochill to the car park opposite Griffin Forest, high above Aberfeldy. As usual, I had a list to ignore for the day, comprising of Boltachan Burn, Lundin Farm and Carn Tulach. I'd attempted to get to Carn Tulach once before, a few weeks ago, but there was a shooting party nearby, and I decided that rustling in the undergrowth while wearing camouflage gear was not a good idea, especially if there were any Italians in the party.
Having re-assembled my bike, I set off down the long descent to Aberfeldy. Immediately I realised what a stupid idea it was to park there - great views, and a fantastically-fast run down to Aberfeldy, but I would be faced with a 1000-foot climb at the end of the day. My mind was soon on another subject however, as I discovered that Goretex Windstopper gloves don't stop the wind when you're doing 40mph downhill in a Perthshire winter! My fingers soon defrosted once I got to a more sensible altitude, and once the blood was pumping around my body again the gloves did their job.
Passing through Aberfeldy, I headed for Castle Menzies, where the path up Weem Rock begins. Weem Rock rises almost vertically behind the village, and the path criss-crosses steeply from side to side on it's way up. I was soon out of the saddle and pushing my trusty steed, which was easier said than done. It was fairly moist underfoot (understatement of the day) and once again I was suffering from the curse of the inappropriate footwear. Two steps forward and a slide back was getting quite annoying, so I turned around and slithered my way down, vowing to return at a later date with stouter attire.
So I returned to Aberfeldy, turning left at the cross-roads to head out east towards Lundin Farm and Carn Tulach. By this time I was losing my race against time as the low winter sun began it's descent behind a snow-covered Schiehallion, so I decided to give Lundin Farm a miss, as I know roughly where it is, and look for Carn Tulach instead.
Stopping at the track up to Cultullich farm, I didn't fancy scaling the 6-foot-plus chain link padlocked gates at the entrance to Cultullich Tip, so instead I carried on on the main road for a couple of hundred metres more, left my bike on the verge, and climbed over a much more lowly barbed wire fence. Scrambling up the steep bank, my worst fears were confirmed. The stone has fallen, and now lies half-buried in sand and mud, presumably meaning little to those who have quarried away the mound on which it stood to within centimetres of it.
Feeling a little sad having seen this stone so neglected, I set off back for Aberfeldy in the fading light, with a 1000-foot ascent to look forward to, softened only slightly by the thought of a cup of tea when I got to the top.
This is a very, very sad site. As if a stone circle being reduced to a single remaining standing stone wasn't bad enough, a tip and quarry have sprung up beside it.
The site originally consisted of a large natural mound o sand and gravel, on top of which, at the western edge (ie closest to the road), was a circle of stones. When the mound was excavated for gravel, several cists containing human remains were found, and also a stone hammer which is now in the National Museum. This quarrying has left little of the mound, the remains of which stand at the top of the bank which rises beside the main road.
CANMORE describes the standing stone as surmounting the summit of the ridge, which should make it just visible from the road, or at the very least from halfway up the bank. CANMORE also mentions that the ridge had been quarried away to within 2m of the stone - that was in 1975. The stone has now fallen, and is half-buried by sand and mud. The remains of the mound seem to be even smaller than described by CANMORE, and it's surely only a matter of time before the mound is destroyed altogether, and the stone thrown to one side. I will be contacting the RCAHMS about this site, in a bid to stop any further damage to the site.
Directions - head east from Aberfeldy on the A827, passing the distillery on your right. Approximately a mile and a half further on is the track up to Cultullich farm, and the large chain-link gates into Cultullich Tip. There's space to park carefully here. Walk along the grass verge beside the main road in the direction you were heading in, until you are level with the highest point of the ridge. Climb over the barbed wire fence here, and climb up the bank. The stone lies on the highest point of the ridge.
Posted by BigSweetie
28th December 2003ce
BigSweetie's TMA Blog
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