From Orton head east towards Raisebeck, go through a crossroad junction and take your second left. Park on this lane/footpath, there is room. The stone circle is up the path on your right, look for a kissing gate type wotsit.
Sounds easy enough, but I couldn't find it without an OS map once.
Today was the Summer solstice, en route by 2.30 am, with three kids and two dogs, not ideal. But I'm going into hospital for spinal surgery tomorrow so i'll be blown if i'm staying in. Eric and Luke and the two dogs come over to the stones with me, but wet feet and hearing the news that i'm staying here til the sun comes up sent them back to the car for more nap time.
There's just me and the stones, and a long wait til the sun comes up. But to be honest Gamelands isn't really a good place for the summer solstice, the large bulk of Great Asby Scar gets in the way, delaying the magical moment by up to an hour ?
But on the hill, just where it looks like the sun is going rise is a cairn, Sunbiggin cairn, cant be a coincidence surely, and to have the cairn named Sun anything is a bit, you know, provocative.
But the light here pre-sunrise is just great, the sky is a deep blue to the west, and the golden glow of dawn, shimmers among the sparse clouds. Far to the south light creeps down the Howgill fells
They didn't look after this stone circle though did they. All the stones are down or gone, but their size and their bright pink colour makes up for this more than adequately. I cant help wonder about the stones closest to the wall, obviously the wall wasn't built out of broken circle stones or these would have gone first. Why didn't the wall builder incorporate them into the wall ?
What a thought provoking place.
But the sun is taking too long to get anywhere so I decide to go up hill, and photograph the circle as it gets bathed in the first light of summer. Worked well too, plus the limestone paving and the one tree, are a great bonus to the circle below.
Over I go now to Sunbiggin cairn, solstice marker ? we'll see.
Location: Exactly where OS map shows it! To E of walled track. A gate gives access to the field a short distance N of the circle. All the stones are pink granite (erratics from Shap?) apart from one which is limestone.
The big round stones are all down and today lie deep in the tall meadow peppered with buttercups and daisies. Look closely and you'll see the stones are pink - bright, sparkly Barbara Cartland pink, shimmering and round like something sensual and erotic, ironically in a way that Barbara Cartland wasn't. The stones are in proportion to the diameter of the circle somehow - people reading this who have seen a lot of circles will know exactly what I mean. It's impressive but lacks the 'oomph' of Swinside and of Castlerigg. Visit it anyway. Just to see how pink it is.
This one is a bugger to find even if you don't follow the directions provided by Mr Cope. No need to repeat what has been said below by others, but I will say this - as you walk up the path keep looking to your right and JUMP (if short, as I am) until you see it.
I managed to go on a day when the nettles on the side of the path were so high that I had to risk all limbs to even get close.....but it was worth it.
Sunday 29 June 2003
I had previously had a very cursory half-attempt to find this one.
We parked by the side of the lane leading towards Knott Hill – a fine 'mother hill' if ever I saw one!
As we walked down the track I was scanning the surrounding fields for a clue with no luck. After about 200 yards, John said 'There it is then…' and I looked expectantly to the right (where I knew it should be). Nothing.
'Jump!' said John looking at me with a not altogether pleasant smirk spreading across his face. 'How hi…' I started to say (no, not really). 'Shortarse!' grinned the Ginger one.
So I jumped. And there, for a moment, was the elusive Gamelands circle.
The unpalatable truth was that when visiting on my own before, I'd missed it – not for the lack of looking, but for the stupid yet almost unavoidable reason that I couldn't see over the bloody wall!!!
Well, it was worth the wait. This must once have been one SERIOUS circle. Still is if you look.
I won't say much about it, but although many, many stones are missing and all (as far as I could see) that remain are fallen, it seems clear to me that the circle certainly has much in common with the beautiful Castlerigg and Sunkenkirk (or Swinside) circles.
It's dimensions, proportions and the (short) distances between many of the stones speak immediately of those 2 much better known and, admittedly, better preserved circles.
Even its setting reminded me of Castlerigg or Swinside, though possibly less dramatic in more forbidding weather conditions than both of those places can be!
Just before we left, to my surprise, John suggested this might be a site that would be interesting to see 'restored'. Unusually as far as my feelings about restoration are concerned, I thought for a moment he might just be right.
But then I though 'it's not gonna happen though is it!' and was quietly glad. If it was restored anyone could see it! I want to keep it for them what can reallysee!
This was first stop on todays tour of the Howgill Fells.
I parked on the roadside and walked the few yards up the lane. As I was pulling my boots on the farmer, a very pleasant bloke who looked about 200 years old, pulled up for a chat. He asked me where I was walking to? I explained that I was just going to see the stones and he told me of some folk who had stopped him on the fell to find out where the stone were, "daft buggers were looking right at 'em!.
The fells and the Lune Valley were looking spot-on with a covering of snow and the lovely sun shining upon them. The only thing to spoil the scene was the airforce putting itself on war footing by screaming around in their Tornado jets.
The field with the stones in was full of sheep so I walked to the next field along to use the gate, as I opened the gate, hundreds of black and white faced shep ran towards me "oh shit, cumbrian fighting sheep" they were obviously expecting me to ladle out a few bales of hay. Needless to say I beat a hasty retreat.
Maybe I should suggest to the generals that they forget the Tornados and just drop a few flocks of hungry Cumbrian fighting sheep on Saddam.
Summary - A lovely big Cumbrian Circle in a lovely setting.
Get yersel there!
Beware of Cope's directions on this one, go east not west the track is on the summit of the road on the left and is very rutted. You can just about park at the top of the track if you don't mind losing your car to the sheep.
Well we found it in the end. And a rainy day turned to sunshine as we arrived so perhaps Cope knew it would be so and that's why he led 4 damp people a not-so-merry-dance in such a small car.
"In the farmers family for at least three generations that he knew about, the circle had been used as a vet. he had been brought up with the knowledge that is, if lambs did not play in the circle, there was something wrong with them, so have a look at them".
The Reason for the Stone Circles in Cumbria by Ray Seton
published the author.