Loudon Wood Stone Circle is high on my list of favourites, probably because it is so secluded in woodland. But for many would-be visitors, it is a seclusion too far as they become hopelessly lost in the network of paths through the trees. But if you know your way, it lies just two kilometres from the White Cow Wood car-park, and can be walked easily in about 30 minutes.
The problem lies in the disgraceful lack of accurate signage: the only indication of a stone circle is at the car-park, where a direction sign sends the visitor off along the path heading east. After this, there are no more direction signs at all, and many visitors give up the search in bewilderment.
The red line on this Google Map shows how to get there.
From the White Cow Wood car-park, follow the road south for just short of a kilometre until you arrive beside a cottage at the edge of the woodland. Now turn left and follow the broad forestry road into Loudon Wood for 400 metres, when you will find a good track heading to the left. Follow this for 260 metres until you come to a path branching off to the right. This is easily spotted if you keep checking the green, vegetated verge on the right of the track: a prominent brown patch crosses it where walkers have eroded the vegetation. Follow this path through the trees for 300 metres in an almost dead straight line, again keeping an eye open for an eroded verge on the right. There, you should be able to see the path angling through the trees, and in 50 metres you are in the clearing that is home to the stone circle.
On the morning of my visit there was scarce a cloud in the sky, and the circle looked magnificent. I have uploaded two composite panoramic images, each showing all seven remaining stones of Loudon Wood Stone Circle.
Coles says in his writings that this was a hard place to find and the locals didn't have much of a clue either! When I finally found the circle after several visits of looking in the wrong woods, walking the wrong way I ignored all given directions and asked at one of the houses before the official car park. A lady answered and she explained that it was about a 3/4 mile behind her house and gave the proper directions. With my friend John Porter we reached the site only to find a white witch, complete with strange hat and robe, doing some funny things with a divining stick. The witch said that he was looking for denergy-looking for energy coming from the rocks and had been at Auchmachar in the morning as well. He also had placed lots of white markers on the ground on places energy had been felt. Pagans also visit Louden Wood, probably because it is well hidden. I've never seen anything like this before and to be honest I'd thought he'd lost touch with reality. However some of the suggestions and plans found in the "Tims World" web site suggest that there is something about divining rocks. Maybe it isn't so far fetched after all.
I never met an RSC I didn't like, and this was no exception. Lots of fun walking up and down the conifer plantation was had in trying to find it, but it was well worth the effort.
The photos tell most of the story, but can't convey how big the ring was, and how impressive it must have been when complete. Several complete stones are laying, fallen, and the stumps remain of the others. The recumbent has a banded crack running around it, which suggests it may not remain whole for many more winters: see it while you can.
Of the three remaining stones still upright, they seemed an example of each of the common types you seem to see at most sites in NE Scotland. The flanker is a rounded stone, with a tapering top, one of the stones is definitely triangular, and the other is oblong, with squared sides. Given the re-occurence of these shapes (to my eyes at least) across the RSC's I wonder if the stones were shaped and erected to a common specification in addition to the grading of heights, quartz pavements, cup-marks & SSW alingment of the recumbents. Nothing was random.
This site is now signposted from the road, but you are left very much on your own in the forest. I would recommend: OS map, compass if your SOD is not up to much, waterproof boots in all but the driest conditions and waterproof clothing. The forest tracks are ok, but the grass can be thigh high when you leave them. You will see that the circle is marked to the north of the main track, opposite a southerly track. When you stand at this junction, two paths to the north will greet you: take the left hand one and in 75-100m look for a path to the left-this will take you to the circle in less than 30m. I would say that the circle is slightly to the west of where it is shown on the map.
Should you visit? If you've one day to fit in as many sites as possible. then no. If you're here for the week, then absolutely - it is an essential companion to Strichen, Berrybrae, Aikey Brae and Netherton.
When I was last here (1987), there was no wood - at least surrounding the circle. So it's the opposite of Aikey Brae. Win some, lose some.
Not a great site - and not helped by the trees. Recumbent, one upright and one fallen flanker and two other upright stones.
See it if you're in the area.
Access. Park at NJ 957 504. Follow the forest tracks, as shown on Landranger, to approach the circle from the S. On the track into the forest to reach the site, watch out for a left turn after about 50m. Easily missed! One gate but rather rough going in the forest.