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Fieldnotes by thelonious

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Borrowston Rig (Stone Circle)

26/05/17 – We started from Lauder on what proved to be as hot a day for walking as I can remember in a long while. Bit too hot to be honest (yes, I know I shouldn’t really grumble). Following the Southern Upland Way, we headed NE past Thirlestane Castle (looks impressive) to the start of the wood just after Wanton Walls. From there we headed north through Edgarhope Wood and on to Dabshead Hill (hillfort & standing stone here). No access problems.

Borrowston Rigg stone circle is about a mile NE of Dabshead Hill. It’s an easy stroll across. Once away from the hillfort, the feeling of the landscape changed to one of a peaceful open moorland with big skies and gentle bird song as we walked along. Head for the old sheep pen, visible from a good distance and the circle is just beyond.

Listed as having 30-32 small stones. We did a quick count and got to 20. Too sleepy to look for more, it was enough. I just wanted to sit down and relax by the stones in the sunshine. It’s a lovely setting and makes for a nice visit on a good weather day.

Quicker access is from Burncastle if needed. Well worth the trip. I was very taken with the whole place.

Borrowston Rig South (Cairn(s))

26/05/17 - Borrowston Rig South cairn is just south of the stone circle. Not in great condition but it does have two nice earthfast stones in the centre. Canmore mentions ‘cup marks’ on the larger stone but like the marks on the standing stone on Dabshead hill nearby, looked more like natural weathering to me.

Burrow Stones (Stone Setting)

26/05/17 – I like a little head-scratcher on a walk and this site fits the bill nicely. About 200m SE of the stone circle (easy fence to cross), the ‘Burrow Stones’ are classed as a stone setting.

On a slightly sloping area of the moor is a smattering of small stones, not dissimilar to the ones used in the stone circle nearby. If you completely ignore the inconveniently positioned ones that ruin the plan you can get some nice long straightish rows of stones :-)

Worth a look if you are visiting the circle nearby.

Dabshead (Standing Stone / Menhir)

26/05/17 – At the centre of the Hillfort on Dabshead Hill is this standing(ish) stone. It’s got some lean to it now and is supported by a modern cairn at the base. The stone is tall, about 3.5m and would look pretty impressive if straightened up a little.

Questions marks over its age and ‘cup marks’.

Canmore states that it was erected to commemorate a marriage in the 19th century but also that it was moved there from the moorland near Borrowston Rigg stone circle, so it could have first been a standing stone there. Classified as Prehistoric. Its height is quite different to the rest of the stones on the moor. Old OS maps have the fort marked on them but no mention of the standing stone anywhere.

Large ‘cups marks’ on the stone but looked natural to me.

Worth a visit for the view and it’s a nice walk.

Dabshead (Hillfort)

26/05/17 – Decent sized hillfort on top of Dabshead Hill. We came from Lauder via Edgarhope Wood but if time is short it’s quicker to start from Burncastle. Ramparts and ditches can be made out OK. Views very good. Trigpoint and big standing stone at the centre.

Ord North (Chambered Tomb)

04/05/2017 - I didn't know about this site until tsc posted his photos a few years back and I've been wanting to visit ever since. They turned out to be the last cairns on our trip north and what a way to finish. Ord North is good one.

Starting from the lovely Ferrycroft Visitor Centre (Coffee tick, cakes tick, icecreams tick - that will do me). There's two walks do to, one north to the broch and the other up The Ord to see the cairns. Ord North cairn is in really good condition and in a fantastic location. Great views all round. Lovely Ord South just a short distance away as well.

The whole walk round here is lovely and we were lucky with the weather. This site is really worth a visit and pretty accessible. A fine place for a sunny day stroll.

Balcharn (Chambered Cairn)

04/05/2017 - Balcharn chambered cairn. Not a great lot to see but the chamber can be made out by the outline of 4 stones in the middle. Access is fine, just off the side of a quiet road.

East Kinnauld (Hillfort)

02/05/2017 – Nice hillfort below the broch. Great view along the Strath to the Mound. Walls can be made out. I liked this one.

East Kinnauld (Broch)

02/05/2017 – I think I might have a new favourite broch and this is it! Well, it is today anyway. Last year we were on the other side of Strath Fleet and looked across at this one, wanted to visit but knew it would have to wait for another day.

Today we were back and I was quite excited as we parked at the old quarry and started the climb up the hill. Access is no problem. There is an old track on the right side of the quarry (good to watch nesting fulmars here). This takes you up and behind the quarry. From here turn right and keep going up (there is a fort to your left). The broch is about 120m gain from the road.

I just loved the setting, slightly tucked away from the Strath. The broch is big, stones everywhere. The entrance is still there and the gallery can be made out.

Not a great day for me, feeling pretty rubbish. It was good just to sit by the broch, having a brew and daydreaming away. This was living.

If you like a broch I can’t recommend this one enough. If you want a weekend away from the 9 to 5 you could do worse then something like this -

Take the train up to Rogart Station, book a few nights at Sleeperzzz (google it, trust me it’s great) and have a day trip to this broch. It’s a place that’s good for the soul. If you come for two days, a visit to the cairns at Craig A' Bhlair makes for a nice walk from Rogart as well. There’s a shop and pub too. Sorry for my trip-ideas waffle but I just love this area. It might not look wow but there is such a good feeling to the area round Rogart.

Aberscross (Stone Circle)

02/05/2017 - Not quite sure why I hadn't visited this circle before. Easy access and just a short distance from the road. I wasn't feeling too well so a potter round a few stones, taking it slow was a good idea for the day. I really liked this one. The stones are nice and the biggest one interestingly shaped. I love the area round here, very peaceful and still.

Cnoc Na Griag (Hillfort)

29/04/2017 - Unfinished fort on top of Cnoc Na Griag, a small hill just west of Ardgay. Not the most exciting but I was staying nearby for a few days and it made for a nice stroll in the evening. A few of the defences can be made out. Nice view of the Dornoch Firth from it.

River Shin (Stone Circle)

29/04/2017 - Well this is a funny one or should that be a funny two? Didn't know what to make of it really. I liked the first one with four small stones remaining. The one to the south was hard to make out. Nice setting by the River Shin and a fine place to sit and watch dippers shoot up and down the river on a sunny afternoon.

Druim Baile Fuir (Stone Circle)

29/04/2017 – Good parking at the start of the track into Gruids Wood on the A839. We headed down the track then into the trees once near the cairn NW of the circle. First cairn was OKish to find but after that we got proper lost in the trees. We stumbled about for ages until finally coming out into the clearing which holds the cairn just south of the circle. From there the circle is about 20-30 metres NE of the cairn. Still took a while to find any stones. Two decent ones remain with a small one between them. Canmore has it as once containing ten stones with nine remaining in 1911. Time’s not been good to this one in the last hundred years. No view but I liked the stones that are there and it was kind of fun trying to find it!

Line of sight wise, I wonder if this circle and the cairns on The Ord 3 Kms to the north would be visible to each other if there were no trees in the way? Both sites sit on tops with little in the way to block the view. Be good to know if there are any connections between the many sites round here.

Not the best circle in the world but I liked my time there. Getting back to the car, I realised we could have carried on down the track to visit Achany chambered cairn as well, which would have made for a nice walk. Oh well, maybe next time.

Cnoc Chaornaidh North-West (Chambered Cairn)

28/04/2017 - Well here's a good cairn to finish a great day out walking in an area which is just jam-packed with old stuff to look at.

If you like a chambered cairn or two, the area round here and Ledmore is well worth a trip. It has something for everyone from long day walks to short stops to visit pretty accessible stones. Most with fine views of the amazing surrounding landscape.

I just didn't have the strength to visit the other two nearby chambered cairns that day and I was needing a cup of tea so after a while admiring these fine stones we headed back to the car. Next time hopefully.

Allt Eileag (Chambered Cairn)

28/04/2017 - It had been a long day so far on our loop round Cnoc Chaornaidh, visiting the many chambered cairns there. Didn't look too bad on the map but by the time we reached Allt Eileag I was starting to wonder if I would ever see firm ground again. Very, very boggy day.

From Garbh Ath Chaoruinn, head south, take the first ride going right, up into the forest then take the next ride heading left to this cairn. (Google Earth is your friend beforehand with this one).

Still in pretty good condition and you can make out and look down the passage. My favourite cairn of the day.

We headed west with tired, wet feet to climb Cnoc Chornaidh back to the start of our walk (via Cnoc Chaornaidh North-West chambered cairn). Tough going but a good day out.

Yes it's a bit of a pain to get to and it has no view but it's a great chambered cairn with a nice feeling of adventure to find.

Garbh Ath Chaoruinn (Chambered Cairn)

28/04/2017 - From Loch Ailsh cairn to the north we followed the River Oykel south to this chambered cairn. A few things worth mentioning. Stay on the west bank of the river on the way down. There is a deer fence running along the side of the forest all the way. The fence is broken just past the cairn so you can gain access there from the river side. Another break in the fence is sooner, about half way along the walk between the cairns. Today the going was very boggy under foot. The area was quiet but maybe best to avoid the fishing season if you don't want to bump into any humans. Bracken probably hides the cairn later on in the year. Big capstone visible on this one.

Loch Ailsh (Chambered Cairn)

28/04/2017 - A fine location for this one if you like a wide open moorland of nothingness and great views of the surrounding hills. Has a ditch round it but Canmore states - 'appears to be entirely natural, a result of differential peat accumulation.'

There is a deer fence between the cairn and the track. Cross this just after the bridge to the south of the cairn. Very boggy underfoot.

Strathseasgaich (Chambered Cairn)

28/04/2017 - Easy access from good parking at the start of the Benmore track off the A837. Really like this one. Much robbed but still with a good feel to the place. Surrounded by trees now but I bet the view of the landscape beyond is great without them.

Cnoc Chaornaidh (Cairn(s))

28/04/2017 - I wasn't going to visit this one but walking by on the track, a short inviting ride appeared with the cairn, a lovely green, at the end saying hello. So off we went, would have been rude not to really. The grassed over cairn sits on a small hillock giving it extra height and seems to have a natural little spur on one side leading up to it. Not the most exciting but little effort needed to see if you are passing.

Altnacealgach Hotel (Cairn(s))

27/04/2017 – Just a little bash to the south east of Loch Borralan East chambered cairn is this fine cairn. It has a little stream running by it and like most cairns round here, a lovely view.
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