One of the great things about visiting the Western Isles is the fact that it stays light so late in the evening. This meant that once Karen and the children had been settled in the B+B I was able to nip out for a bit more ‘old stoning’.
It was just a 5 minute drive from the B+B to the minor road (sign posted) leading to the stone circle. Parking is easy enough at the end of the road; next to a derelict farmhouse. A short walk across a field of highland cows and I was there.
As with virtually every site I had visited so far I had the place to myself. This really is a great place to visit. There are 5 standing stones and 2 large fallen stones. The stones are of various shape and size – triangular, square and curved. Is there a cairn in the centre of the circle?
There are fab views with Callanish visible away in the distance in one direction and ‘sleeping beauty’ prominent in another.
I am writing these notes sat on one of the fallen stones; enjoying the stones and the scenery – this is what it is all about!
My second visit to this site in 3 years and the most striking difference is that the landscape in November is even more extreme. The peatland is now a glorious rust colour and the hills are covered in low cloud. This time I did the walk between the 3 sites alone and it felt exhilirating. I saw no one else the whole time and other than wondering whether I was about to be consumed by a peat bog at one piont, the whole experience was spine tingling.
I stood at the stones and kept looking around me, surrounded by the stones of Callanish on all sides and with Cailleach na Mointeach on the horizon; it really is the most incredible of places.
Anywhere else in Britain this site would be surrounded in fanfare and hordes of people, but its closeness to the main site mean many people do not come here at all. This is a shame, as it has its own features, each stone has unique patterns within the quartz, and although many standing stones were worked & shaped there is nothing so striking as the triangular stone shown here. The main site of Callanish is visible on the horizon, and to the rear a path leads you to yet another impressive circle, Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag.
I'll echo TomBo's comments below about memory overlap. I lost track of which of these circles was which, and after 6 months I'm left with a sense of jaggedy swirly silhouetted shapes that makes me sigh contentedly to recall.
I will also heartily endorse the Clarkian nomenclature for those unable to pronounce the proper names. 'Gary' is so much nicer than a soul-less roman numeral.
Saturday 3 May 2003
Known by us as 'Gary'(!!) I'm afraid. Easily visible between Callanish and Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag ('Philippa'). Best approached from 'Philippa' (Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag) or via a lane from the main road at NB222330.
Another stunner! It's something I know all us 'stones' people think from time-to-time, but I'm going to say it here – please forgive me: "I'd love to have seen this circle when it was complete".
Rarely have I felt it so strongly, almost desperately. This must have been an incredible place, lying between 2 other incredible places (Callanish itself and Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag).
Nowadays the remains of the circle are reduced, for more casual viewers at least, to a 'side attraction' and are undeniably overshadowed by both these other sites. Yet much more than a trace of majesty remains in these strikingly-shaped stones that still stand, and my feeling is that it was once not so easily dominated.
Nearby is a small outcrop, in common with the other 'main' Callanish sites, echoing the Cnoc an Tursa at Callanish itself.
We wandered first to (the impossible to pronounce Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag). The ground was marshy and the rain had started to pour down. Not that we were too bothered; to wander round all the Callanish circles had been another main point to the trip.
A path links Cnoc to another circle a couple of hundred metres away known as Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh. A place with an equally long and difficult name and which boasts quite a cool triangular stone which we took the opportunity to shelter behind whilst the wind threatened to blow us into the bog. Callanish could be seen in the distance its stones like needles sticking up from the ground