So, how does one follow a morning visit to the Morangie Forest's wonderful Carn Liath long cairn, then? Not a problem in Easter Ross... even for a Sassenach fresh out of IrnBru. Simply take your pick of some beauties.... such as the Boath cairns, perhaps?
Take the appropriately signposted 'Boath' road from the B9176, which heads north from the A9 coastal road near Alness. Ignore the car park for the Cnoc Fyrish monument (unless you happen to want to visit a folly apparently resembling the Gate of Negapatam in Madras, built as 'poor relief' for people cleared off the land by the same landowner to make way for sheep???) and carry on down/up the road until the two chambered cairns appear in a field to your right. There is, according to the map, an 'official' car park at the road's terminus... however - being contrary - I parked carefully opposite the entrance to Balnagrotchen Farm. Having said that, a local soon arrived on the scene and sat upon the fence looking at me (think of Tom in Father Ted). Having left my banjo at home, I was somewhat relieved when a JCB transporter turned up and deposited every little boy's dream, the charge duly trundling off towards the skyline wind farm upon Cnoc Gille Mo Bhrianaig.
Access to the two Boath chambered cairns is easy, although taking the direct line from the stile could end in wet feet, assuming an absence of Gortex-lined boots... better, perhaps, to take the gate to the left and approach that way? Anyway, the long cairn is the first encountered... and to be honest isn't the finest around, with one (or two?) slabs to the east suggesting the remnants of a chamber. According to Canmore:-
'Said to have been intact until about 1820, the cairn has been greatly robbed, and its outline is very indefinite... the remains suggest... a single long cairn about 200 ft. long (excluding the horns).... W L W Brown 1910; A A Woodham 1956; A S Henshall 1963.'
The short cairn, a little way to the north-east, is a very different proposition, however. A large, upstanding, roughly circular cairn conceals a polygonal chamber which it is still possible to enter.... albeit through the mostly missing roof. Right on! Sadly the entrance passageway has collapsed and is not now visible from without. Nevertheless several capstones remain in situ and, despite not being the easiest monument to enter (as G says, no ladder) - and despite the torrential downpour - I was intrigued and deeply moved by this site (the OS 6" records 'stone cist containing human bones found here AD 1863'). Removing a rusty iron bar from a recess was a small price to pay for entry. It was the least I could do. Although beginning to fail through (extreme) age, the interior stonework remains impressive, the flora even more so in its simplistic beauty... like a beautiful woman who knows she doesn't have to strain for effect. Yeah, the rain hammers down, but it matters not. The vibe here has already penetrated deep within.........
On the east coast of Scotland between the Dornoch Firth and the Moray Firth (known as the Firthlands) is a high concentration of chambered cairns. Around 47 surviving - about one every eight square miles.
Most are the passage grave type known (rather unsatisfactorily) as Orkney-Cromarty.
Boath Short is probably the best preserved example in the Firthlands. If you are in the area, it would be worth visiting for that reason alone but add to that its beautiful open setting, its easy access from the nearest road and two other chambered cairns just a stone's throw away and you have even more reason to see it.
The cairn (round on a "horned" platform) survives to roof level and it is through the roof that you enter the chamber. No Historic Scotland ladders here so you need to be pretty agile to get back out!
For more on the preservation within the chamber - see the photo captions.
Boath Long lies some 200m to the SW. An impressive 70m long but heavily robbed in the middle. Only a few chamber orthostats can be seen at its NE end.
Access. Easy. Room to park opposite the entrance to East Ballone Farm and tracks lead up to the cairns.