10/03/2012 - Parked car in A702 layby (NT 10904752). Took signposted path to West Linton and half way there headed to top of Mendick Hill. Fine view of the landscape these three cairns are set in from here. Descended NW to first cairn, 450m NE of Upper Cairn. A lot smaller than the other two (3ft high). Grassed over with disturbed centre. Next we visited Upper Cairn, a short tussocky walk away and then on to the Nether Cairn. This one is brilliant. Followed track to Garvald than back to car. The weather was not great but still had a great day. Thanks to Gladman for his photos of this cairn which made me make the visit here.
So, just how do you follow a visit to such a complex, multi-phase monument as Cairnpapple, then? My solution is to go for the polar opposite, in many respects. 'Chalk' to the aforementioned's 'cheese', so to speak.
So, the A702 leaves the A720 Edinburgh by-pass and heads approx SW, beneath some pretty interesting hills - one none other than the mighty Castle Law (oh for more time...) - towards West Linton. A little beyond this small town, a minor road eventually arrives within the yard of Garvald Farm. A collapsed wall is in the process of being repaired by a group of people who suddenly surround my car. I have no desire to be carted off into a Wicker Man, so jump out to state my purpose and so take control of the situation... only to find my would be 'attackers' are actually 'special needs' people on a farm visit. I feel an inch tall, and rightly so. What a muppet. The farmer, not exactly a shrinking violet, it must be said, is intrigued by my intention to visit the North Muir cairns (or possibly simply takes pity on me) and readily agrees to me parking within his yard. Right on!
In actual fact the road continues to Medwynbank Farm to the NE, but the walk beside Garvald Burn is pleasant, the tarmac reverting to unmade track and passing to the left of a small lake prior to striking out across the moor. The aforementioned burn has cut a deep gulley to my right, North Muir Hill and Mendick Hill flanking the valley to left and right respectively. So where are the cairns, then? Nether Cairn is not long coming... and it looks an absolute beauty... but I decide to carry on to the Upper Cairn first of all.
Although somewhat ravaged, no doubt through the attentions of generations of 'stone hungry' farmers, the monument is still very substantial and in not bad nick, all things considered. I climb to the summit to find that, curiously, its neighbour is visible from here, but not from down below. Mere coincidence, or by design? I stay for approx an hour as the weather turns... and how! A front of vicious hail sweeps in and I search my rucksack in vain for gloves. Doh! They say every cloud has a silver lining, but here the lining is, literally, comprised of every colour of the rainbow. Dawkins is right. Even though I understand how it is formed, the wonder is never diminished. Simple things bring such pleasure, eh?
None more so than a great, conical pile of stones known as Nether Cairn to which I now make my way. Greywether is spot on, this is a truly perfect round cairn, virtually intact. The siting, upon this wild (tell me about it!) wind, hail and sun-swept moor ensures just about the perfect vibe. What more is there to say? If perfectly formed round cairns are your thing you won't do any better than Nether Cairn and its 'ugly' sister.
Come, it is time to keep your appointment with the North Muir cairns.....