To visit Dùn Gerashader take the A855 north out of Portree for just over a kilometre and park your vehicle immediately before the turn off to Torvaig. Do not scale the barbed wire fence. Walk up to the junction, turn right over the bridge and, 100 metres on, a gate to the right provides access to gentle grassy slopes that lead to the base of the rise bearing the fort. There is a small stream to cross (stepping stones) followed by a steepish rise to Gerashader.
I contoured left on the ascent and was amazed when I reached the southern defences of the fort: three rows of simply huge blocks, described by Canmore as 'the remains of 3 lines of obstructions', arranged like rows of dentures, each one about a metre wide and 1½ metres or more in height. The mind boggles to understand how, two millennia ago, men could locate such stones and move them uphill into place. Above these is the tumbled southern wall, some four metres broad.
Beyond this rocky rampart is the relatively level grassy interior, dotted with stones that have probably tumbled from the much higher wall on the north rim of the hill, and beyond that, on a rise, the wide northern wall of the fort. Though much tumbled, stretches of the original masonry courses are still evident.
East of the A855 about 2 miles north of Portree.
There is parking available at the side of the road.
My last site of the day and what a great one to finish with!
The Dun/Fort is close to the road but you do have to climb over a barbed wire fence and cross a small stream to get to it. Luckily it hadn’t been raining too much so the water levels were quite low and it wasn’t too difficult to cross. Then it is a short but steep walk up to the site.
There were lots of large boulders scattered about but best of all was stone walling still standing to a height of about 1.5m – on the western side.
There are also great views to be had south towards Portree and best of all, north towards the Old Man of Storr which could be clearly seen.
I nice bit of Dun walling to see and great views – well worth the effort!
Everywhere, in the Highlands, the red-deer are associated with the Fairies, and in some districts, as Lochaber and Mull, are said to be their only cattle. [...] In other parts of the Highlands, as in Skye, though the Fairies are said to keep company with the deer, they have cows like those of men. In Skye, Fairy cattle are said to be speckled and red (crodh breac ruadh), and to be able to cross the sea.
It is not on every place that they graze. There were not above ten such spots in all Skye. The field of Annat (achadh na h-annaid), in the Braes of Portree, is one. When the cattle came home at night from pasture, the following were the words used by the Fairy woman, standing on Dun Gerra-sheddar (Dun Ghearra-seadar), near Portree, as she counted her charge:
"Crooked one, dun one,
Little wing grizzled,
Black cow, white cow,
Little bull black-head,
My milch kine have come home,
O dear! that the herdsman would come!"
To complicate matters, MacGregor (The Peat-Fire Flame, 1937) mentions this story, but also another which is clearly based in exactly same area, and has the same rhyme, but this time the fairy cows are being called back to the sea, rather than to the Dun:
[...] the faery cows that once came ashore at the Great Rock of MacNicol, on the farm of Scorribreac, in Skye. On this occasion, the entire herd was intercepted in its attempt to return to the sea, by the scattering of earth on the strip of land separating it from the water. In the Highlands and Western Isles it was held that a sprinkling of earth taken from a burying-ground was most efficacious in such circumstances.
Toward the evening of the day on which the faery cattle came ashore at Scorribreac, a voice from the sea was heard calling them back by name. And the names by which they were called were taken down at the time. These names, of course, were in the Gaelic; and the Gaelic rhyme by which they are remembered is still known among those interested in these matters. The rhyme illustrates, moreover, that these faery cows varied considerably in colour. One was brown; and another was black. There was a red one, and a brindled one, and so on. In response to the voice from the sea, the whole herd ultimately returned to its watery element.