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The last time I came here I spent too much time climbing around on the rocks and in the cave to go up to the top by the trig point, consequently I missed out on the the best view, the natural but funky menhirs, the rock chair and the now all but gone neolithic chambered cairn.
There's no end of places to go in this part of the Peak district, but I thought I'd come back here and finish off my look around the rocks, nine years later.
I trail after a couple of climbers hauling big bundles of ropes up the hill, they soon go one way so I go the other and make my way straight up to the top, to find the rock chair. Up on the top is an out of place chap in a suit and tie walking his dog, we nod as our paths cross, finding the chair isn't as simple as I thought it would be, naturally it is the same colour as all the other rocks. But a few minutes later and I'm sat between it's welcoming arms, the same year that I last came, six months later and someone has tried there best to destroy it, in Stu's pic of the chair the breaks are bright and tear wrenching, but now it's all the same colour and I had to remind myself that not long ago it looked even better. But one thing that hasn't changed in the last ten years is the big factory thing at the foot of the hill, its really quite an eye sore. But the rest of the views are excellent, Carsington water, Minninglow and Aleck low, a fleet of wind turbines and all the gnarled rock beneath my feet, all good stuff. After lounging round in the chair I go up to the trig point, passing the presumed whereabouts of a Neolithic chambered cairn, now all gone. Amid the rocks on the hill top are a couple of natural menhirs, one points towards Minning Low, kinda, the other has a basin in it's top, with a plug hole, cool.
Going back down the rocks to a lower terrace we come to the cave, a large squarish cave made of the edges of massive blocks of stones, it has a chimney, which you could fall through from above if your not careful. In the lowest corner the cave dips under a large boulder and goes off into a cramped dark who knows where, I got as far as I could without getting filthy before I turned back. I love caves, kind of scary, secluded, atmospheric places, I decide to go to Thors cave there and then. So off back to the car after another long look at some of the rock formations, and what looks like a short souterrain, is it a spring well, a drain of some kind or what, I dunno, it's weird.
Minning low looks pretty good on the horizon, but it was a bit too misty to get a good photo.
I parked to the west of the barrow on the side of the road next to an old quarry, a bit further down the road a footpath heads east along a farm type track. After the footpath turns right keep going along the track until it peters out in an undergrowth choked kind of way. Then head up hill and there's your barrow, no shouting, no chill busting farmers, just a quiet peaceful place with a great big barrow.
I'm fairly appalled at Stubobs visit when he came across four dead cows in the barrows scooped out interior, no such disgrace here today though, so I perch my butt on the craters rim, and rain down negative vibes upon the farm yonder, hopefully they'll go bust one day soon, them and many more. Is it too negative to be disgruntled at not being allowed to go somewhere?
The first time I tried to get up to this cairn I ridiculously tried to get there with two dogs and Eric, who to his credit had a very gung ho attitude, but even though three fences barred our way it was the cows that sent us packing and hoping for better results next time.
After staring at Lean low for quite a while from Arbor Low, I reckoned my chances of getting up there were pretty good, early in the morning on my own, what could go wrong.
Parked my car across the road from the footpath stile, not a problem, walked through the stile and into the field, now, the footpath goes off in totally the wrong direction, there is no footpath that helpfully drops one of at the cairn, so I deviate from the path and head for the corner of the field. Stepping over the electric fence, I'm reminded of why electric fences aren't funny, but there's something else round here that's not funny, it proceeded now to shout at me, I couldn't tell what it said nor could I see it, but I know what angry farmer sounds like so I step back over the fence and walk the fifty yards over to the footpath and follow it, willfully walking away from where I'm trying to get to. There's nothing for it but to ask the farmer for permission to access the ancient monument ironically placed in his custody, but thankfully not the shouty one.
I approached the quad bike riding farm guy, with my "I want to talk to you" face fully on, he didn't come over until it was obvious the weird bloke from far away was going to stare at him until he came over, so he did.
I asked as politely as my mother would have liked if it would be OK to have a look at the cairn on top of the hill, but it went the kind of way I rather expected it would, he said no, he did not say yes, he definitely didn't say sure mate I'll give you a lift up there right now, no, he said, I've got bulls up there, I resisted glancing at his crotch, thanked him kindly, turned and walked away, back to the car.
As I was walking along the big A515, a large black 4x4 drove slowly by, I readied myself for diving into the verge, but no gun appeared so I kept going.
Fifty yards away from my car the big back monster truck pulled up right next to mine, here we go I thought, English farmers are the worst of all, I clenched my fists and several sphincters, and walked over to meet the driver, He said "what are you doing?"
"Your Mother" then I punched him in the face, or I might have said I'm trying to get upto that cairn, one of those things anyway.
"What? he said,
I rolled my eyes, and took a deep breath.
I pointed up at the cairn, "you know what a cairn is?", I motioned a hand in a cairn shape, "an ancient burial mound made of stones, that cairn there" he then proceeded to take my photo, that's a cheap trick, hang on mines in me pocket, he also said some other things but I couldn't understand his inane waffle, his thick accent, probably a scouser. I tried to exude an air of utter bemusement. Then he was gone, like a thief in the night, or a pig in shit, or a dick in a big car. I unclenched everything and sat in my car for a minute until I'd stopped shaking, then I thought, hopefully later today he'll look at the picture he took of me and he'll recognise a look on my face that he probably hasn't seen for a while, a look that says he thinks I'm a dick.
21st September 2016
It's been six years since I was last here, flipping blimey, really? it was an equinox then too, but spring not Autumn as it is now, well actually the equinox is tomorrow, in the afternoon some time, that would kind of ruin your chances of a good sun rise I'd have thought. My day of is the 21st though so that's why i'm a day early, I'm not happy about it though, I try to get out on these days above all others, it just has to be done, almost as if the fate of the world rested in my being at some stones for the sunrise. I've lied to work in the middle of Christmas working, I've gone out a couple of days after having complicated surgery, I've gone to the lake district, forgotten my daughter and gone back and then on to the Peak district, it's important to me, saving the world, and everyone else, probably.
With Arbor low being so close to me I was well in time for the sunrise, but unfortunately the sky didn't look like it wanted to cooperate, it was a fairly grey day, I sighed inwardly, then realised I was alone and sighed out loud. But then a miracle happened over to the east there was a small thin sliver of actual sky, close to the horizon, could I dare to hope that the sun would pass up through this tiniest of gaps. I unpacked my sitting mat and sat upon it, they're very handy things, sitting mats, if you find one on a mountain top I strongly recommend you pick it up and nick it, then I waited for the great luminary to make an entrance, however brief it may be, if at all.
Whilst I waited from my vantage point on the west bank I could see that were it to rise where I predicted it would be just to the left of the big barrow in the henge, right where a gap in the henge is, was the gap made by the building of the barrow, or is it especially for folk like me to spy on the secret paths of the sun. I also wondered where the ancient people would have stood and watched what ever was going on here on days like these, were they outside the henge? upon the henge? in the ditch? in the circle? did they even stand at all, it might have been a dancing kind of experience, I don't do dancing, not sober anyway, so I continue to sit, and wait.
Until the waiting was over, the sun was coming, and I could see it through my crack in the cloud, I don't think I've ever said that before, but there it was, a golden sliver of beautiful light, I photographed it, but my skills are seriously lacking in low light, but you give it a go don't you? without resourcing to multiple cameras and much trickery, or perhaps not.
It only took five minutes and its completely passed through my crack, I saw it all, just not all at the same time, then it was gone, swallowed by the grey.
World saving duties over I set about the stones, inspecting each one individually, on one of the stones on the west side I think I spotted a couple of very worthy cup marks, I'm not sure I've seen them before, nor heard of them, so It's always worth the time to inspect each stone singly.
Most of these stones could be re-erected, much to the benefit of the site, Burl called Arbor low "the Stonehenge of the north", but that doesn't seem to bring the crowds, imagine if the stones were a standing. Some couldn't be stood back up though as they've shattered into up to a half a dozen pieces, but it's OK to have a few lying down, isn't it.
From the henge bank Gib hill is looming large at the back of the next field, I always go over before I head off to pastures new, not sure why, I don't think it matters. The information board tells me that Gib hill is two cairns, a long one with a round one on top, I don't think I knew that before either. Another cairn can be seen from here, across the big road the A515, Lean low it's called, i'm off there now. Tatty bye.
It's been a decade since my first and only time here, and only the fact that the Swaynes howe chambers on Rossilli down were lost in drizzle and low cloud brings me back now. But that's not to say that the place isn't worthy of a second visit, it very much is, just that I was on the Gower trying to get to places I'd neglected on my other trip here.
So with a spare half hour the road sign of Park Le Breos couldn't be ignored.
It was a beautiful day yesterday but today it just rained all the time, which is weird because that was the weather I got ten years ago too, some things never change. The chambered cairn hasn't changed either, it's still crumpled at one corner, still full of water and still it's all to myself. I wondered whether my waiting daughter would mind if I went off looking for the cave, I decided she would mind so I made do with a short walk round it in the woods, peeking through the trees making my own silly Silbury game, coooeee.
The day had started off grey and full of drizzle, the drive down here had been one of concerned skyward glances, but there was no need, this isn't the north where it's purportedly "grim", this is the south, the deep south, almost as far south as you can go without going to England, and you don't want that.
The sun had shone all day long, which had gone a long way to salve my failed attempt at Paviland cave, but it had done nothing to boost my spirits after the abominable hedges of Samson's Jack, I decided that sunset at a burial chamber was what the day needed to finish it off.
Maen Ceti won out over the Swaynes Howe chambers, it's much less of a walk and with a teenager in tow who's moods swing further apart than heaven and hell, it was an easy decision, there's always tomorrow, after a zoo and the cave part two maybe.
I parked in the moonscape car park south of the big stone, some people were in front of us so we gave them a few minutes head start before starting our preamble across the moor, as per the new stone visiting rule book.
Standing beside the Maen Ceti is a belittling experience, it's like, really big, big enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Silbury and Stonehenge, but it was once bigger, in many pictures you can see the two large pieces that came off one side, when they broke off the whole rock lost its equilibrium and shifted slightly on it's orthostats. The orthostats number is nine and they section off the under side of the stone into two chambers, which is now partly exposed due to the broken capstone. Causes of the broken stone range from ice acting in a crack, lightning and struck by a saint with a sword, or all three.
Standing on top you can see the Great cairn.
The underside of the Arthur's stone usually has a puddle underneath it, it's usual enough for some to have called it a spring, doubtful as its all dry right now, so I squat like a frog and waddle round under it reveling in it's dryness.
The site was just as I remembered it, no smaller no bigger, it's the right colour and the right distance from the road, but what I couldn't appreciate from my other time here was the view to the sea west and north, it was all hidden by a thin mist, but its lovely and clear right now, which is nice, I wonder if it'll last til tomorrow.
Everyone who's been here and left notes have mentioned that it's not entirely visible, but why didn't it piss them off, there's not even a hint of annoyance with the farmers of localness.
I parked as humbly as possible by the farm/footpath entrance, left daughter in the car and walked away. Ive seen the photos from the wrong side of the hedge, Ive also seen Bladups pictures from the right side of the hedge on the Portal. I was adamant that I too would be on the right side of the hedge so I tried to go left of the fence, only to pass a burly farm hand who obligingly put me on the right path, what a bastard.
Anyway there'll be another place to get over i'm sure, you cant keep a good man down, or on the wrong side of the fence. Two fields later and i'm stood next to the stone, and totally non plussed as to why a footpath would run right past a big famous standing stone and then have no provision for viewing the stone. It made me dead angry.
I walked past the stone north-ish towards the house to see if I could get into the next field, no go that way, the only way to get on the other side is back at the beginning. But even if you could get the west side of the hedge you'd be so far away from the stone that another hedge would be in the way. Looking at thesweetcheats pictures the hedge was considerably lower then, I might have been more able to get across, by standing on the gate and jumping for it, but not now with the high summer growth. The farmers have done this to us on purpose i'm positive, all it would take is a bit of shearing and a couple of planks to get over the double fence filled with an intense hedge. It's what I would do. But who am I? no one, that's who.
After seeing this place on TV a few years ago I checked to see if anyone had been there from on this website, they hadn't, there was only Kammers implement pictures, so I thought Id quite like to be the first to post some on site pictures. Gladmans first visit failed to get there, and I was just about to start seriously thinking about getting to this hard to get to cave when thesweetcheat got there first. Winning the cave race. Blown it, taking to long to get somewhere other than North Wales, then Gladman won his round two, but only just and then Carl went and said his piece. So, far from being the first to get somewhere awesome to share with folk, which I like, i'm fourth, it'll do.
I thought I'd be a clever boy and check out the tide timetable, low tide 3pm, cool.
As I've said elsewhere I've managed to pry my daughter loose from her bedroom and WiFi, she followed me now along the footpath, it was luckily quite warm and sunny, which is not how the day started. After crossing five fields we get to the coastal path, I note above and to the right of us is a cliff top promontory fort, ignored, we carry on following the wall down towards the sea, footing gets more uncertain under scree and wet grass, especially for those among us that think going to the corner shop is a noteworthy expedition.
I can hear the sea now and tensions are rising, but something is wrong with the sea, besides being cold and wet, it's not out. I tell Phil to sit here in the sun and wait for me while I go down to the shore and see what I can see. The rocks going down to the sea are a major hazard, sharp, hard and twisted full of holes, if you slip and crack your head here you may never get back up again. The sea has definitely cut me off from the prize, I get as close to a photo of it as possible, admit defeat for now, collect my progeny and whisk her away up to the second prize fort.
Later that day I ask at the campsite for tide times tomorrow, the young fellow me lad, gave me the time of 2pm. I now rewrite tomorrows plans around being back on that beach for 2pm.
In the morning we went to a very wet little zoo near Tenby, not only was Jason Bourne and Scarlett Johansson not there, but the animals seemed to have gone on holiday too.
We raced back to Gower, at 2.10pm I was on my way back across the five fields, sans daughter, it was raining and shes already walked ten times further than her monthly allowance. On my own I was much quicker, I had my fingers crossed for most of the walk. Back on the beach I can see sand, you need to see sand, no sand = no cave.
I daintily and carefully slip and slide down onto the beach, I cant mention "the beach" without thinking about war films.
Sand underfoot I turn to the sea and give it the V's with both hands, you wont see that on Saving private Brian, whilst hoping in turn that it wont jinx me into staying too long and having to embarrassingly wade back.
Onward and upwards, another short scramble up improbable rocks and i'm standing on the threshold of the most famous cave in Britain. I enter the cave shaking after all the climbing, sweating profusely, it's warm out but raining and i'm all proofed up. It's impossible to photograph the cave in this condition so I sit and have a smoke for five minutes. In the back of my mind is the retreating tide, it's been coming in all the time I've been here so I must be vigilant. At the forefront of my mind is the incredible span of time since the interment to now, all the changes to the landscape and to the mind of man, it's just staggering.
I don't even think about climbing up to the smaller cave/chimney, its wet and slippery and my big walking boots aren't made for rock climbing, and i'm on my own with no cell reception.
One odd thing, at the entrance to the cave is a quartz seam running down one wall across the floor and up the other side. I wondered how long people had a special attachment to quartz, what if it goes back this far in time, what if they chose this cave because of it, did it keep away bad spirits, did it ensure the dead a safe passage to where ever, did it purify those entering the cave , who knows, anyway, I thought it odd.
But it's time to go, probably, I stand once more on the beach, turning to the sea I appreciate and acknowledge a worthy opponent, by sticking out my tongue and blowing hard, with that I humbly accept fourth place and quit the beach.
I've never been here before, I've only been to the Gower peninsula for a couple of hours stone spotting and that was ten years ago, the return was long overdue. So we are here for one more camp of the summer, with my 17 yr old daughter, who is far more comfortable at home with wi-fi than tramping round endless fields with her graying father. Nevertheless I have pried her out of the house which is nearly as good as seeing stones itself.
I parked in the only carpark on the main road through Penmaen, passed through the gate, walked down a concreted path, through another gate, ignore first right turn, that will take you to the beach. Then when the concrete runs out look for a very ruined chapel on the left with a right hand turn opposite it. Go down right hand turn and the burial chamber is twenty yards hence.
Quite easy to find if you ignore the first right turn.
This site has been in my sights for ten years, and it's good to finally scratch that itch, but I didn't feel much for the site, no magical vibes, no deep insights, just another minor league ruined burial chamber, unless they clear the sand and brush to reveal more I can think of no reason ever to come back. Sorry, but my mind is on some other site, not the camp site were off to next to pitch our tent, but a rather special little place close to the sea, very close indeed.
What a great sounding name, I get a bit Corrimony myself sometimes, it's just the worst TV show ever, excepting E stenders of course.
It's been so long since my first time here that it was in my pre-digital days, well over ten years then, time to get reacquainted. After so many delights in the Outer Hebrides I was unwilling to let go of the week and go home. So before the long trip home I decided to start the trip by going in the opposite direction by fifty miles, you get to drive along the world famous Loch Ness where you always have the chance of bumping into a giant dimension hopping slug. Also you can laugh and point at the money throwing tourists at Urquhart castle, anyone worth his or her salt knows you sneak in after it's shut.
It was a sunny mid morning on Saturday in July, there was lots of people in Drumnadrochit, but happily there was no one at the Clava cairn, when we got there.
I grabbed the camera, the lad and the dogs, in that order and strolled over like there was no worries in the world. Until another car pulled up, instead of sitting in their car for a bit or going elsewhere they just got out and followed us to the cairn. Bloody cheek. We had the stones to ourselves for less than two minutes.
If it was me, I would have given them the stones for ten minutes before making my presence felt, did they? no! they just wandered about willy nilly bombing all my photos. People come up to the highlands because it's pretty, little realising that there's actually bugger all to do really, so they just bum around looking briefly, glancing really, at every and all historic, or naturally pretty place. Surely after twenty years of stone watching I should be able to cope with it (pun intended), but no, I rail against any and all ignorant behavior. I was well disappointed, such a brilliant site in wondrous surroundings, then to cap it all several other younger people turned up in a trendy hatchback, they hadn't a clue about stoning etiquette either, we quit the site and left in a huff.
I'm not suggesting we all form an orderly queue, or that people who don't really care about the ancient past, shouldn't come, just that if the Postman is there, sod off , buy some postcards, misaddress them to someone who doesn't care where you are and don't come back.
Too much? but by gum I was narked.
Well, this is a thoroughly argumentative place isn't it.
Follow the road to Bernera, easy enough, when you get to the bridge you should be able to see the stones above and left, park in the ample car park and go up, dead easy.
What isn't dead easy is understanding what on earth is going on.
The big stone you come to first has been set back up in a fairly inappropriate way, the packing stones are free of the ground , cemented together and stained a weird kind of red. But it is the best looking of the three big stones, shiny, swirling, quartzy and pretty. The other two stones aren't quite as pretty but no less impressive in size.
I first walk all around them looking from here and there, near and far, the one conclusion I come up with was I wish I had more time with clearer skies. This is a strange place.
It isn't a stone circle, or even a semi circle.
The other half of the circle cant have fallen into the sea as the outcrop on the other side of the fence is worn smooth over many more thousands of years than the stones have stood here. It can't have gone down there. I think it's three standing stones, which seem to be looking over the edge, to what was ever down there, perhaps a whirlpool, perhaps an ancient bridge, now underwater, perhaps there was nothing of note down there at all and the stones are astronomical in nature, they do describe a crescent, moonish by shape.
Who knows, no one it seems.
And dont get me started with the birthing chair, imagine your a woman and it's time to bring new and precious life into the world, would you sit on a rock above a cliff, outdoors. I know I wouldnt want that, it's just as likely to be a shitting chair, Lewisian gneiss is well known for curing constipation, or perhaps the king of lewis had his scat collcted as it erupted and then sold across the north of Britain as souvinirs.
But what a fantastic place. No where would a time machine come in more handy.
It's half eleven in the morning and we've got about four hours before we must catch another ferry, so there's time for a couple of essential sites I never got round to on my first time on this island.
First is this one Ceann Hulavig, Moth didn't think of a more pronounceable name, which is good because I could be at the Lavi right now.
Eric and the dogs stayed in the car and I went up the misty sodden hill on my own, which was nice. On the way up, looking behind me to the south east I can see the hill on which there is a cairn and the map optimistically announces the presence of another stone circle, but I've done my homework a bit and know it's not worth blowing off Bernera bridge and a last fondle of Callanish for. I carry on up the hill into another world.
As I approach the stones of lavi the mist obligingly disperses, which was a bit weird, I had thought to be alone with only the stones for company but as the air cleared of moisture I could see where the other main stone collections are, and my place in the world became a touch clearer.
Only five stones remain of a probable thirteen, each stone about eight to nine feet tall, much like Gary by the water to the north north west, there is also the very scant remains of a little cairn within the circle, very much like Gary by the water. What a strange place this part of Lewis is.
Eleven years ago I adopted the Moth speak for these two stone circles, Gary, down by the water, and here Philippa, on the hill. It is very pleasing to not have to bother with how it's all pronounced, i'm sure they do it to us on purpose anyway. Say hello Philippa.
After the short walk up from Gary by the water the stones came out boldly from the light veil of mist, kind of ethereal like, I love it when that happens, you don't always need blue skies to appreciate Scotland.
Two stone circles there are, an ellipse within an ellipse, some stones are missing, so from a distance it looks like a mad jumble of tall stones, only getting up among them can you tell whats going on.
People make a lot of business out of the sleeping beauty, made out of the hills to the south, I cant see her, and wonder whether others really do, there are lots of hills, I could probably make half a dozen ladies lying down. So I ignore her until someone can point her out to me.
Harder to ignore is that stone, and I'm not joking when I say harder. It is a giants schlong cut off and stuck in the ground, they must have gone to some length to find and accentuate this stone, when you look at it, there is no stone just a massive erection. Why would they do that if there was no sleeping beauty, I really must look harder at that horizon.
I have been going with the Moth nomenclature for years for these two stone circles, this one, the more incomplete of the two is called Gary. Say hello Gary.
Parking as Carl says is ample, by the most haunted house this side of Garynahine, as we approached the circle a walker packed up his things and walked away in the direction of the stones, and we had the place to ourselves.
Two stones are down and ripe for re-standing, five tall stones stand taller than me, each with it's own unique exaggerated shape, they are Lewisian Gneiss, up to 3 billion years old, and the most beautiful rock in Britain.
There is indeed a cairn in the middle, well actually it's off center, Burl says, 28ft across, it's stones contained a cavity 6ft wide 'shaped like a large round bodied bottle with a short neck', near the cairn lay a stone 7 ft long with probably natural incisions upon it, but the stone has gone now, reputedly to Lews castle in Stornoway.
Looking across to Callanish from here the stones look like they are on top of a Grand Carnac tumulus, imagine Tumulus de St Michel with a shed load of stones on it, well it looks a bit like that. About Callanish, Burl again.... It is noteworthy that there is hardly any native architecture in either the circle or the tomb. Outside influences are probable, makes you think.
A couple hundred yards and very visible on it's higher than here ridge is another stone circle, a circle named Philippa, which i'm fine with as thats my daughters name.
Driving south from Dun Carloway en route back to the stones one has to drive past this wonderful absurdity, and a standing stone but I missed that one as I was power sliding round the bend, no of course not, still missed it though.
I didn't miss Olcote cairn as I've been here before, there's still half of it missing, I've looked on the other side of the road but there's nothing there, I'll give it one more try next time but i'm close to believing it's gone for good.
The cist is still nice though, if you stand on the road and crane your neck through the wire fence you can get within a few inches of it. The half that hasn't gone to live on a farm in the countryside is nice in a restored kind of way, most if not all the stone used is that Lewisian gneiss, which is the best looking stone in Britain.
What the hell? where is the other half? couldn't you have gone round it? what do you mean you didn't know it was there?
Probably the tallest standing stone in Scotland.
It's been eleven years since my last dalliance with the Trushal stone, too long, and since then they've decided there was once a stone circle here, maybe two, or even a stone row, sounds familiar doesn't it?
We got here about dusk, in late July that's about 10pm, due to an incurable tent malfunction, were staying in the big metal tent tonight, it's got an inbuilt radio at least, and you don't have to pack it up in the morning, so we parked in the small layby next to the apparently empty house that is right next to the stone.
We had a good look round the stone just as the post sunset golden glow faded away. In the morning it was quite surreal to look out the back window and see a megalithic wonder right there. The stone is tremendous, I'll be back for sure.
How good can a stone circle be?
The stones should be much taller than me, they should be made of the most beautiful stone in the Isles, and they should be far away from centres of modern occupation, to keep Joe Public at bay and to increase the feeling of pilgrimage. I don't suppose it would hurt to put an even bigger stone in the middle of the circle, and whilst we're at it a pretty good chambered cairn could fit in there too, and why not have some stone rows leading away from it, five maybe. Throw in some alignments to moon sun and stars, is that too much?
The stones should be on a hill, not a big one, just high enough to be able to see the stones from far away, perhaps from some angles the hill could look like a Grand Carnac tumulus, but all this is pushing it a bit isn't it, this all but seems impossible. But lets push the boundaries of incredulousness even further, From the circle I want views of distant mountains, lochs and just to take it to the Nth degree other stone circles. I wouldn't like a cafe or a gift shop, but I could put up with them if entry to this wonder of wonders was free.
Bless my soul it is real, and I've been here twice now.
We got off the ferry at Leverburgh and drove briskly for Stornoway, hoping to find some normal food and to correct a tent malfunction, one out of two aint bad. Cor blimey Harris is a pretty place especially the north east quarter, it must have been heavily landscaped by the giants of old. And the mountain drive through the south of Lewis is exceptionally inspiring.
Stornoway wasn't like what I was expecting, it was quite a nice place. From there we headed straight for the stones of Callanish, it was about 9pm when we got there, there was one other car in the carpark.
Visiting a stone circle is a lot like a first date with a hot girl you've fancied for ages. Trust me, it is.
As we rounded the big rock Cnoc An Tursa the tops of the stones come into view over a low wall, the heart skips a beat and the hairs on the back of your neck stand to the accompaniment of goosebumps on the arms, sound familiar? Then through the gate and ignore the information boards,
fumble around for the camera and hands almost shaking take that first tentative photo, oh my god you're so beautiful, that gorgeous girl you've fancied for ages is standing before you bathed in evening sunlight and wearing nothing but a mischievous smile.
There may have been other people there, I know for sure that my son and dogs are here somewhere, but he can see I'm in love and he leaves me alone with the stones, I only have eyes for the stones, I can only think about the stones, there is nothing in the world but me and the stones of Callanish, only here do I fit the naked stone hugging hippy type that my mates at work laugh about.
After a while, who knows how long it was (30 minutes) Eric ridiculously suggests that we leave, I look at him like he's the maddest madman I've ever seen, I'm staying here forever, send for your sister. Instead I tell him, in a bit, I have to stare intently at these stones for about a million years.
All too soon a million years go by and it's getting dark, I cant abide the idea that I may never have this feeling again so I strike a deal, after we've been to all the places that I want to see tomorrow any spare time at the end will be spent here, he rarely sees me this passionate about anything so knows to give me what I want.
As you cross the causeway over to Berneray there is a hill right in front of you, a small modern cairn crowns its summit. Park, jump fence, go up, pass little cairn and the standing stone is quite visible, at 8ft6 you wont miss it.
A mucho complicato place this(that's Italian, don't ask me why), the stone is tall and fine and by shape almost stolen from Stenness, hoary moss and yellow lichen occupy the upper half of it, fantastic views of distant hills and white sandy beaches.
Now the complicato, right next to the menhir is a rectangular structure, canmore says it's a very old chapel, they also have an aerial picture showing the stone and chapel sitting in a large oval/squarish enclosure, apparently an old burial ground, they then go on to call the whole structure a Cashel, like what they have in Ireland.
Then they say that part of the enclosure wall could once have been a cairn.
So there was much going on here over a long period of time, which is nice.
Just over the hill is a possible chambered cairn, it's not on my map but i'm still kicking myself for not having the time or the wits to find it.
This is very a nice place, we lay down among the wild flowers and watched birds and flying insects whooshing about, rested our heads on the chapel wall, of course we didnt know it at the time.
Something interesting , no funny, is at the bottom of the hill, The Ardmaree stores forecasting stone, a rock on a string.
The two big stones that one immediately sees are not the standing stones your looking for, they are there only to confuse us, and they do a good job of it. The two standing stones are the ones on the mounds, conjoined mounds no less, from the road the stone on the right is still up and the one on the left is having a lie down.
So I think Carl did find and see the stones, he just didn't believe in himself.
Not much else you can say about them, they're small, probably best to go across to Berneray and have a look at Cladh Maolrithe standing stone, it's a good one.
About a mile and a bit north east from the souterrain Cnoc A' Chaisteal, is a big stone, a large Clach, and seeing as it's on route to the ferry, I have to stop and look.
The stone is massive, it's not set into the ground but rests somewhat precariously on top of it, surely it didn't come to rest in that position, it just has to have been stood up.
Canmore says this...
Clach an t-Sagairt is a large stone block set on edge, facing SE, and measuring 8ft long(I think they mean tall), 11ft broad, and 4 1/2ft thick, with a Latin cross incised on it towards the sinister top corner of its face.
This cross is also known as Clach na h'Ulaidh and Crois Aona'ain.
It may have marked a sanctuary limit of St Columba's Chapel......
None of that negates the idea that it was up and had meaning to ancient man, so I've added it as a natural feature, like a mountain, cave, tree or mole hill.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website ten years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.