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Fieldnotes by thelonious

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Showing 1-20 of 338 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Dun Bharpa (Chambered Cairn)

08/08/2017 – Tricky to know what to write about this one other than my usual waffle. The cairn deserves better and I ain’t got the words in my head to do it anywhere near justice.

So I’ll keep this short. Easy access from lots of directions. Easy to find (it’s hard to miss!). Location is near perfect, Barra’s central hills make for a fantastic backdrop. The cairn itself is one of the best I’ve been to and I’ve been to a few, just wonderful. Must see site? Yep. Do you need to come visit? Yes I’m afraid you do :-)

Tigh Talamhanta (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

08/08/2017 - Tigh Talamhanta aisled house. We came from Grianan, to the SE, but it looks like there is an old waymarked walk with posts probably starting at the cemetery parking to the NW and heading here via Dun Cuidhir (looks a nice way to reach here). Ground is a little boggy in places near the site. Canmore states the site’s important as it “demonstrates the layout of a complete Iron Age farm”. Looks like the name ‘Tigh Talamhanta’ means 'the underground house'. Wish I’d read a bit more about it before I went as it was hard to make out what was going on and there does seem to be a lot going on. Nice location for this one with good views.

Beul A' Bhealaich (Standing Stone / Menhir)

08/08/2017 – Canmore only have a very general grid reference for this one but I guessed by its name, if it was going to be anywhere it was at the top of the pass that has the same name. Heading down from Hartabhal to the col before it rises again to Grianan, the stone came in to sight. Fallen now but the stone is still impressive even in its sleeping state. A good 16ft long and not that wide. When standing it would have looked quite fantastic from a good distance away to folk using the old path across the hills.

I’d guess the pass through Beul A' Bhealaich, connecting the east to the west side of Barra has been used for a very long time. It was used in the 19th century by folk living in the West to cross the hills to the Church on the east side each week.
(sorry about the link and little plug for ScotWays here but I think they do a great job and the Heritage Paths website is very good)

Vatersay (Chambered Cairn)

07/08/2017 - Small chambered cairn with a fine view out to sea. A little passage and the layout of the chamber can be made out. Easy access from either way along the coast, there's a path round.

South Vatersay (Cairn(s))

07/08/2017 - Small cairn with possible kerb. Just to the north of here are a couple of interesting stone settings (I had no clue to what they were but I liked them).

Vatersay (Stone Fort / Dun)

07/08/2017 - Very little to see on top of the rocky outcrop. The walk across the beach to get there is worth it though. Fantastic setting. There's a cairn just below, NW of the Dun.

Fine area for a walk. The Dun is surrounded by lovely beaches and the wild flowers on the machair are wonderful and so colourful at this time of year. The walk from the Dun to the beach to the south and back is great. Nice coffee shop to the north .

Dun A' Chaolais (Broch)

07/08/2017 – Of all the duns/brochs we visited on Barra and Vatersay this was my favourite I think. Easy access from just south of the cattle grid. Position is great on its own knoll with great views all around. Canmore has it as a probable ground-galleried broch. Good wall round it with the gallery visible. Worth a walk up the hill (Heiseabhal Mor) behind if you have time as the views are breathtaking.

Dun Ban (Promontory Fort)

06/08/2017 – Gave up waiting for the rain to pass, so off we went for a circular walk of Beinn Tangabhal in pretty wet conditions. We were on foot from Castlebay but there is good parking opposite the phonebox on the main road at Tangasdal. Waymarked walk over the dunes then coastline to Dun Ban. Easy going and lovely views.

By the time we got to the site it was chucking it down. We tried to find a bit of shelter behind the walls but it wasn’t great so it was soggy butties, a cup of tea did help a little.

Location is good on a rocky outcrop. It has some nice walls. I get a bit mixed up on the differences between forts, duns, brochs etc so didn’t quite know what I was looking at but nothing new there then.

It’s a fine walk and a worthwhile site to visit.

After a look around and a bite to eat we headed on up into the mist to climb Beinn Tangabhal.

Allt Chrysal (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

05/08/2017 - Evening stroll from Castlebay to have a look round Allt Chrisal. What a wonderful place it turned out to be. This multi-period site starts near the road with a neolithic settlement behind the ruins of a house (right of stream), then a little higher up is a wheelhouse (left of stream), climb a little higher from here and stone huts are found (keep very close to stream). From here head across the stream and climb up the hillside to above and behind the biggest rock you can see on the right of the stream to a Bronze Age cairn (I think it was near the 130m contour line).

From the road the site is easy to miss if you are driving. There are nice information boards at the start. I did find the map a little hard to follow and the higher up places a bit tricky to find.

The whole hillside is great to just potter about on and the sites very interesting. I really liked the wheelhouse and the placement of the high up cairn. The evening sun was lovely and the view south to Vatersay and beyond just wonderful. I was very taken with the place, so much so that it pulled us back for a further two visits the following week.

Ballinluig (Clava Cairn)

21/06/2017 – How many times I’ve driven past this one, oblivious to its existence, I couldn’t tell you. It’s right next to the A9. Noticed it on the 1:25000 OS map recently by chance and as I was in the area last week thought I’d have a look.

Quickest way is probably to park in a layby on the A9 (there are ones either side of the road nearby) and head straight for it but there is a barb wire fence to cross.

Much better is the walk round Loch Alvie. We parked just west of the Rowan Tree hotel on the B9152 (small layby). Head past the hotel and take the track (black gates, access OK) to Loch Alvie. The track loops round the loch (Ospreys fishing at this time of year). Turn left before the house and then left again just before the track goes under the A9. This leads straight to the cairn. This approach hides the A9 from you and gives a better feel to the visit.

What a fine ring cairn this is. Good kerb stones on the west side. East side ones have gone. Lovely views across the Loch and to the big hills. I liked this one.

Granish (Clava Cairn)

17/06/2017 – As this site had got the Greywether/Gladman/Drew seal of approval I had been looking forward to my visit.

A few ways to this one. We decided to make a little walk of it and start from Boat of Garten. Heading down the Speyside Way first and then carrying straight on were the Speyside Way turns left under the trainline. After about 1km we took the track west to visit the lovely cairn at Avielochan then back again to head SW for another 1km to Granish Clava Cairn.

This really is a good one. A large cairn surrounded by heather, very different to the grassy setting of the smaller Avielochan cairn nearby. I loved the tree in the middle. We sat for a good while just taking in the view and feel of the place with a brew and a butty or 3.

A visit to Granish and Avielochan makes for a fine walk. Even better maybe take the steam train from Aviemore to Boat of Garten and then walk back via these two, sounds a good day out to me. Very impressed with both cairns.

Avielochan (Clava Cairn)

17/06/2017 – Really liked this one. Good access. We came from the east, across the bridge over the train track. Doesn’t look much on approach, just a grassy knoll with a few nice trees on top. Taking the field edge to the knoll, the cairn seemed to appear out of the grasses from nowhere. Lovely setting. Fine kerb stones and I liked the small slope down into the centre. Well worth a visit.

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.
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