|The land of Far Far away in question is Sutherland, in the far north of Scotland, a wild and beautiful place, and on a shining sunday morning barely a soul around.
We left home in Cheshire a bit late so I couldnt watch the sun go down at Greycroft in Cumbria, instead I decided to have a night time visit to the clava cairns, just me and a big torch. It was pitch black and an owl was making his prescence known and with rustling in the leaves, it was real creepy.
After a long drive north we turned off at Helmsdale and stopped along the A897 for some well needed sleep. A few short hours later and the sun was starting to come up so we drove quickly up to Kinbrace where a chambered cairn awaited me and my camera. We parked at a cattle grid and I legged it up the hillside whilst Eric watched from the car. The sun had yet to make it over the hillside . It was a big cairn with vestiges of a passage and chamber, there's more chambered cairns in the forest too but a bit harder to find me thinks.
Skail chambered cairn known to the locals as 'the temple' is in a lush river valley and is one of the nicest places Iv'e been to. We drove past it and I caught a glimpse of something familiar so reversed back up the road and parked in the sites parking place. Over the stile and along a good wooden path there is a nice information board.
The chamber is largely intact, free of plant growth and an amount of cairn material is still left. The early morning sun shone through the leaves of lichen covered stunted by wind trees and it just took me away to another place. I cant see why no-ones been here before, ok it's miles from civilisation but if I can make it from middle England surely some of our Scottish brethren could have come here, too preoccupied with RSC's and such.
Not far up the road is Skelpick, another cairn infested corner of Sutherland, on our way to Skelpick long we stopped at Coille na Borgie.
Two big cairns one in good condition the other sadly abused, just one chamber orthostat and the whole area used as a dump, broken glass bottles and scrap metal the crap of choice .
Just a few yards to the south is the star cairn .
A good megalithic forecourt still stands, the two end stones are about 6ft tall and are called the treasure stone and the plague stone. The chamber can be accessed through the top it's only small and somewhat overgrown, another good information board is by the road . Just down the road is Skelpick long.
One day I sat at home randomely browsing the sites on the map when I saw this place I just knew the pictures weren't telling all they could so I promised to find a good reason and come up here one day, and here we were. Me and my 5yr old son Eric parked by the cattle grid jumped the fence and hit and missed the sometimes path. We both cheered when we saw the bridge I knew it was there but Greywether sounded like it was maybe a bit decrepid. the cairn is really long and the chamber is at the northern end, dropping down through the roof again one finds what I took to be the last capstone and at one end of said chamber is another smaller side chamber strewn with bones . A little overgrown I wished I'd brought the sheers, but even as I found it, it was still worth the million mile car trip . We were a bit hungry by now so we headed over to Thurso before visiting the last place on my revised must see list.
The tullochs of Assery intreagued me because of their silly name and their proximity to the loch.
We parked on the road and dodged the cows between us and the cairns, over a gate and into new forest we picked our way through the trees which was easier than I anticipated. But without wellies we couldn't get any nearer, one was more moundy than the other, sadly there isn't much more to say about them because we only got with in 30 yards or so.
We had a real long way to go to get home so we had to go, on the way I spotted a broch by a loch,so I took a photo then looked at the map, I was dead close to loch Stemster but still not enough time. At the end of that road where the A9 meets the A99 are two standing stones they were too close to ignore so I mozied on over, one very tall lichen covered weather worn stone and one smaller squarish stone. Unfortunately a little dog was getting a sore throat from barking at me and it's owner was eyeing me and with a barbed wire topped wall between us I felt a stone hug was out of the question.
Now it really was time to go, 9 hours later we collapsed through the door too tired to realise how hungry we were.
Mission complete, 1000 miles, £90 in petrol, was it worth it ? Of course, I'd go again right now if I could .
Posted by postman
25th September 2007ce
Edited 25th September 2007ce
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