Cor and Blimey is it really eleven years since I was last here, I think it is, even in the drizzle this is still a beautiful place to be. The hanging hill side mists, the lush vegetation covering everything, the little road that crosses mountains and passes beaches, it's a very nice place.
The broch is just how I remember it, half gone but still very tall in it's surviving side. Only one broch still stands in it's entirety and that's far away in the Shetlands, I hope to see it one day. For now these pair of Brochs, Telve and Troddan, for there is another, just up the road, will do just fine.
It only took eight and a half hours to get here as well, not bad going.
Someone else is here now, you don't get places like this to yourself for long in the summer holidays, time to go a bit further up the road.
Despite its size we managed to actually drive past the Broch before I spotted it while exploring its ‘twin’ up the road. There is a parking space and information board. Access is via a wooden gate and short path.
The half of the walling still standing is very impressive – pity the other side is gone.
However, enough remains to give you a good idea of how substantial these Brochs were when first built. (Doubt my house will look so good in 2,000 years time!)
You can walk a short way up the internal staircase which is an added bonus..
It is a long old drive along a narrow, twisting and often poorly surfaced road to get to these Brochs off the main A87 but in my opinion well worth it.
An easier route would be via the ferry from Skye if you happen to be on holiday there.
Martin's comments on the scary road are spot on. Steep hairpin bends to make your toes curl.
But if you're on Skye, it's possible to get here via the rather unique turntable ferry at Kylerhea (sp?) just up from Glenelg. It's a short hop, only about 5 mins on the ferry. Alternatively, if you are heading to Skye, and are prepared to brave the road from Shiel Bridge, this is an excellent spot to stop off and have a break in Glen Beag before getting the ferry over to Skye.
Dun Telve Broch
A fantastic summers day and what better way to spend it than exploring brochs?! The road across here from Shiel Bridge, the Mam Ratagan Pass, was terrifying, but the views back down and across the Five Sisters were breathtaking. This is the first broch we came across with Dun Troddan just further along the road. This broch is still about 10 m high which is testament to those who built the place, but I guess having walls 4 m thick helps. Up the inner walls are the remains of what looks like two ledges- probably the upstairs!
When, on my first visit to Glenelg, I arrived at the first of the two brochs, that of Dun Telve, the larger, which stands in a field on the right, entered by a white gate, I found a mason at work on the initial stages of restoration.
The details of the work so successfully carried out are not only intensely interesting, but they afford so admirable an example of true restoration as opposed to ruinous rebuilding operations miscalled "restoration," that i give them as kindly detailed to me by the young architect to whose art, approaching genius, and ingenuity the broch's preservation is due.
He found that the ends of the broch had been pinned up in cement, and promptly cut away this obscuration and negation of the distinctive feature of drystone buildings. In such danger of falling was this broch that it had been shored up with heavy timbers, and, after careful examination and prolonged consideration, it was resolved to consolidate the building by grouting in cement that part which was in the greatest danger of collapse.
But in order that there might appear no trace of the use of cement, the joints of the section to be grouted were previously carefully packed with clay. Thus, when the cement was poured in at certain points, it found no outlet, and when the clay was thereafter washed away, there was no outward indication anywhere visible of the extremely clever and most artistic method of restoration adopted. Then, when the shoring could be safely removed, the broch was excavated; and, besides foundations of some out-buildings being brought to light, several stone cups and whorls were discovered.
Several years after, on returning to Glenelg, I saw this perfect restoration completed, as well as that of the second broch, untouched when I had previously seen it; and whenever I think of these fascinating works of art, the delight which I experienced in hovering about them at once returns to me.
From Wanderings in the Western Highlands and Islands by Mary Donaldson (1923). There's a plan of the broch on this page. She also includes a photo of herself here - she was a photographer and built a box with removable wheels (the Green Maria!) to carry all her equipment, change of clothes, picnicking provisions and waterproofs: covered in green canvas so she could stash it invisibly in the undergrowth. I might like one myself. She sounds pretty cool.