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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Kincraig (Chambered Cairn)

Just before heading into Kincraig for some light refreshment and rest there was time to visit the chamber cairn near the village. From Loch An Eilein car park we took the road back to the B970, a very twisty road indeed through Feshie Bridge until the first minor road heading west. This follows the northern shore of Loch Insh to Kincraig. Head through the village to the B9152 turning north. Take the first subway underneath the A9 and park near the group of small farm buildings, the cairn is a short distance behind. There is plenty room to park.

All that remains of this once massive cairn is the chamber, split into two and the scant outline of its former surroundings. This had been over 17m at some point. Some kerbs still remain.

Canmore's description 'This heavily robbed chambered cairn is situated at the upper limit of improved pasture roughly midway between the newly constructed blacksmith’s shed and a small coniferous plantation, some 425m to the ENE of Kincraig House. The cairn lies on relatively flat ground and appears to have been terraced on the S, with the ground rising gently to the N and W and a tongue of natural outcrop extending out to the SE. Oval on plan, it measures 17m from ENE to WSW by 14.8m transversely, and is defined by three kerb stones on the SW, S and SSE, and another that appears to have fallen outwards on the ENE. On the N and NW the outer edge of the cairn has been reduced to a low stony bank. Loose stones lie across the interior and several large angular blocks are still visible on the SE. The chamber, orientated ENE to WSW, measures 3.2m by 0.9m internally and is divided into two compartments by a low septal slab. The innermost compartment survives as two upright stones on its S side and a back-slab, the latter the tallest of the chamber standing 0.68m in height. Two displaced stones immediately behind these may be capstones or corbels from the roof of the chamber that have slipped backwards. The second compartment comprises a pair of upright stones and another adjacent to that on the N set just outside though not overlapping. A further 0.7m to the E there is another earthfast stone which may also belong to the chamber but now appears to be displaced.'

Just before leaving I looked south towards Newtonmore and Kingussie. The next day would see a lot of miles walked.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Creagan Ruighe Dhughaill (Cairn(s))

Just to the south east of Creag A Chait over some treacherous underfoot conditions is another large cairn. The site at Creagan Ruighe Dhughaill is in a small glen which blocks the view of Loch Gamhna. Views of Loch An Eilein can just about be glimpsed through the trees.

Some large blocks are near this cairn making it relatively easy to find. A small ditch can just about be seen surrounding the site. It is an odd shape for this area being rectangular, 11m by 7m sitting at 1m high amongst some trees. Just like the nearby Chait the scenery of the mountains is spectacular.

After a good look round it was back to the shores of Loch An Eilein via the southern shore of Loch Gamhna, sadly the crannog was covered in water so, happily, another trip needed. The path back to the car park on the southern shore is varied to say the least. Sometimes good, sometimes terrible and sometimes invisible.

Still its a good way to explore which is what we spent the day doing for a few hours before heading to the cairn at Kincraig.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Creag A' Chait (Cairn(s))

On a cold misty but dry morning we started walking from the car park at Loch An Eilein Gate. To reach here take the B9152 from Coylum Bridge/Inverdruie (great name) and head south. Take the first minor road heading south east that ends at the car park.

Follow the track south to the beautiful shores of Loch an Eilein, which was mirror calm, with its medieval castle still standing proudly. Keep going until a junction in the track near Loch An Eilein's south west shore. We headed or attempted to head straight south. This short cut ended up being the longest route as we climbed over Kennapole Hill, which provided stunning views of the snow covered surrounding mountains. Eventually after a few bumps and scrapes we found the site. A difficult place to reach.

The large cairn, being over 20m wide, is covered in heather but glimpses of turf reveal cairn material. Several large stones also surround the site well hidden amongst the vegetation. Only when standing well back can the height of the cairn be seen, it is well over 2m in height. To the east is Loch Gamhna obscured by a small hill. To the north the southern shores of Loch An Eilein and the snow covered Ord Ban.

A beautiful place!

Visited 29/12/2017.

Delfour (Clava Cairn)

Totally agree with G, G and Vicster. This is a fantastic site with fantastic views. Sadly, on this visit, bits of farm waste was dotted about the site. I tidied up what I could by throwing it over the fence into a field with more rubbish in it.


Take the B9152 from Coylum Bridge and head south. When the Alvie Gate Lodge is reached head west under the first subway. If coming north from Kincraig its the second subway. Follow the signposts to Easter Delfour, which will lead straight to the site.

Handy thing these subways!


Creag Mheadhonach (Cairn(s))

From the Milton cairn head uphill, this is very steep in places, in a southish direction. We forced our way through bogs, trees, scattered rocks, holes and streams. Somehow major injury was avoided and we finally found the cairn. Near the top there is the remains of a small loch, the cairn is on the south west side on a slight uphill.

Nothing much remains just a small mound around 6m wide being no more 0.5m high. The cist stone can be felt underfoot as can other stones. Sadly almost impossible to photograph. The views on the other hand are tremendous looking down on the Spey Valley. Cairns to the east have gone thanks to forestry.

On our way down, meaning straight down, we took an interesting route almost copying the Dun Dearduil uphill route. We headed west looking for a track which we eventually found. Once back into the trees the climb down is very steep, on a couple of a occasions I used my backside to get down some of the way. Some deer passing nearby obviously had a good laugh at my antics. At the bottom is the Milton burn which this time was waded and jumped. From there it is a fairly gentle climb to the track. We had every intention of heading to a nearby dun but the weather was closing in, therefore Delfour entered the agenda.

Love this area, the dun will be found when the snow goes.


Dumbarrow Hill (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dumbarrow provided its builders with three sides of natural defences. The north side is very steep and during our visit being attacked by marauding sheep, the south slightly less steep and the west, once again slightly less steep. The west also appears to have an entrance not noted by Canmore. However the main entrance is in the east with facing stones clearly marking the doorway. Once again I disagree with Canmore. I think the east had defences natural or man made. The farmer at nearby Dumbarrow Farm confirmed that many dry stane dykes in the area had been built from stones from the dun and nearby long gone cairns.

One thing that cannot be disputed is the impressive views in all areas especially the snow covered mountains to the west glistening in the distance. Myths of King Nechtan (see folklore) and famous battles surround this area. Certainly at the time when we visited, fast approaching darkness, the dun had an atmosphere of otherworldliness.

From Friockheim we headed south on the A933, then the B961 west, take the minor road north west at the first crossroads, go over Dumbarrow bridge, past Dumbarrow Farm and take the road north east to Hillkirk. We were given permission by the farmer to park who told us about the destruction of nearby cairns and the removal of stones during the 1800s. The dun, in its wonderful location, is to the north east of the farm buildings.

Visited 28/12/2017.

Cairn Knap (Cairn(s))

After taking our time and absorbing the wonderful cairn and views at Guthrie Hill we moved on further south near to the small town of Friockheim. We parked at the towns cemetery and walked south on a decent track into Friock Wood. Follow the track to the southern border of the wood, the cairn is in the middle of the field. Easy to get to with no climbs and no fences.

The cairn is surrounded by a dry stane dyke, which sadly, has fallen a little on the north west. This allows access to the cairn. Like Guthrie it has taken a battering, unlike Guthrie it has managed to retain its shape. Described by some as a round cairn it has been quarried, houked and excavated but still remains 30m wide and 3m high. The excavations also show quite a lot of cairn material allowing us to see how the site was built. It also revealed two cists that contained human bones.

Trees have also fallen giving an extra sense of age. It is good that even in an agricultural area sites like this still survive. Excellent place!!

Visited 28/12/2017.

Milton (Cairn(s))

This cairn has seen some very severe treatment but it still hangs on which is something of a miracle. Nothing but the outer edge can be seen over 12m wide. The outer edge itself is almost 2m wide and is no more that 0.2m high. However it does almost surround the site. A scatter of cairn material also remains. Nothing remains of the cist except perhaps one large stone. The poor cairn was almost completely houked out. Strange now that forestry now protects it.

Getting here is a challenge, a good adventure. We parked near the Pityoulish Standing Stone and walked up the track heading uphill and south east past several cottages. The distance maybe short but this did take into account valleys and small rivers. At the first big corner in the track (once in the wood) head down towards the Milton Burn, A waded across, B jumped (being a dog very easy) and I skilfully clambered across a fallen tree. Head uphill until a fence, climb over and head north east. The cairn is in a small clearing with a tree in its middle.

Despite it having a nightmare of a time this place has a good vibe. Getting to it was easy compared to what was to come.

Visited 23/12/2017.

Pityoulish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Directions are obviously the same with the exception that the stone can be much seen much more easily. It now has guards (3 of them) of honour, the remnants of Pityoulish Woods.

Cheers Strathie.

Re-visited 23/12/2016.

Creag Garten (Hillfort)

Creag Garten has always been high on my list of places to see being situated in one of my favourite areas looking south on to the Cairngorms.

We parked, nice chap the farmer who allowed us to park and gave us directions, at the Gartenbeg Farm. From there we headed north to some old sheds near a brand new gate which gained us entry to the Deishar Wood/Gartenbeg Plantation without jumping any fences. From here we headed north west and cross country to the top of the hill. Creag Garten has impressive northern defences, a sheer drop. It would have had impressive views north and south, and will again when the trees are chopped down. Sadly most of the walls have fallen, however entrances can be seen to the east, with 2 entrances on the west.

According to Canmore the fort is D shaped, presumably the shape of the wee hill its on. It measures 20m by 15m.

A fine way to start another hike in the Highlands.

Visited 23/12/2017.

Guthrie Hill (Cairn(s))

What a wonderful place Guthrie Hill is with wonderful all round views with beautiful winter weather to match. Despite the obvious fact that the cairn has taken a severe battering it is an impressive place.

We headed east on the B9113 before heading south on the fourth minor road, signposted Guthrie. Parking just to the south of the Hilton Of Guthrie (farm) we headed south west and uphill to the top of Guthrie Hill. Situated at the top is the well damaged cairn. It was nice to see that the trig was placed a short distance downhill (to the east).

What remains is a site over 20m width and is just over 1m high (south) tapering to 0.3m (north). Some stones can be seen in the south. It is also nice to say that the farmer seems to be keeping well clear of the site. Long may he/she do so!

Great way to start a wee visit to Angus on the way down to Dundee.

Visited 28/12/2017.

Auchlee (Ring Cairn)

I walked from the re-constructed cairn at Cairnwell, Badentoy Industrial Estate back down onto the verge of the A90 heading south to the Cairnwell junction. From here I headed west to Auchlee Farm. Having had a couple of dealings with farmer before I was glad that I jumped the fence just before the farm and headed north towards the cairn which is as Les describes.

From there I headed up to the Boswell Monument to look for more smaller cairns. Sadly most of these seem to have been tree ploughed out. I kept heading west until I could see the junction of two minor roads. Sadly for me before I reached the road I managed to jump straight into a ditch, waist high, near the road.

It was a very long squelchy walk back to the car. Not helping much, it started to get frosty. Still, back in one bit, change of clothes, all good fun.

Visited 14/12/2017.

Market Knowe (Cairn(s))

As Old Sweetie says there is conjecture about what type of cairn this, I'll go for a well battered Wessex Cairn surrounded by a ditch. Stones can be felt and seen in this cairn. A good time of year to go as I'd imagine this site would have a fair covering of brambles making any description difficult.

Early tourists from Italy appear to have been in the area as the site is locally known as Roman Knowe. In their day this would have been an impressive monument, it still is being over 30m wide, 2m high and a ditch averaging between 2 and 4m wide surrounds. Now it is mainly grass covered but cairn material can be seen.

From the wee village of Knapp head south east taking the second minor road heading straight east. The Falcon Stone can be seen in the field to the south. Follow this road to the junction and take the road south taking the first road east. Car parking is available at the Huntly Wood car park. From here walk east as the cairn is in Huntly Wood, behind a row of houses.

A nice and easy way to end the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Dron Hill (Sacred Hill)

Not wanting to upset MatTheCat but he did somewhat achieve a miracle by not taking any pictures of the ramparts on this hill. It is most definitely a hillfort. What it was used for is another question though. Sacred possibly, special definitely.

A triple set of ramparts, especially on the west, used to stand here but they have all sadly been much reduced in size. However the outer rampart does manage to encircle the top of the hill. Entrances, and they still have facing stones, are on the east and west sides.

This is a truly fantastic site with superb views south to all of the Fife Forts (on a clear day) and Dundee Law. Adding to atmosphere, for my visit, driving snow, wind and low clouds which made the fort even more life like as it appeared the clouds were surrounding us. (that might have been the previous nights exploits talking!)

We parked at Dron Farm, near the remnants of a church, and walked south back to the junction of two roads. Head west on a farm track and keep going until the track ends. Through the gate and jump a fence then climb to the top of the hill. You will have walked straight into the fort.

Fantastic place, fantastic hillfort and added snow making it all very wintery.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Hill Of Dores (Hillfort)

Hill Of Dores is a hillfort associated with Macbeth and a castle. The castle apparently never existed, the hillfort most certainly does.

From Dronley we headed west back onto the A923 and made our way to the car park near the bottom of Dores Hill. It is also the car park for the Laird's Loch fishery. By this time the weather had completely changed.

With snow getting heavier and heavier we made our way along the track to the fishery. Just as we neared the end of the track we headed uphill through the trees to summit, which houses the fort.

On three sides there are steep slopes but we approached from the west which, fairly difficult because of the trees, is less steep. The massive fort is almost 100m in length and well over 50m wide being oval shaped. A lot of the rampart has been destroyed but the forestry people have marked the ramparts by leaving parts of tree trunk giving an idea of a wooden palisade. Good idea this!

With the snow getting heavier we made our way back down, still heading south west but via a different route taking us back onto the A923 about a 1/2 mile west of the car park.

It is no secret that I love the snow. Along with heavy cloud the snow gives a different otherworldly atmosphere. Fortunately Macbeth did not appear.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Dronley House (Artificial Mound)

To the south west corner of Dronley House Wood there is a very large artificial mound measuring almost 30, wide and 3m high. Unfortunately it has received the normal houking but it still retains its shape. It is completely covered in turf. Some people still use it, offerings of holly and flowers have been attached to the branches of the trees.

In the middle of Birkhill, on the A923, take the minor road heading north. Keep going north over the split crossroads until the first wood. The mound can be seen from the road to the east.

Nice easy start to the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Cairnwell Ring Cairn (Stone Circle)

On a beautiful and chilly Aberdeenshire day I walked back down the hill, from Craighead, and along Badentoy Avenue to beautifully reconstructed Cairnwell Ring Cairn.

The snow highlights and enhances the ring cairn. Some of the stones for the reconstruction were 'gifted' by the farmer Auchlee. More likely he wanted rid of them and this was convenient.

Well worth a visit if in the area. Plenty prehistory nearby!

Visited 14/12/2017.

Craighead (Stone Circle)

I parked at Portlethen Golf Course and walked up the track, or skating rink, heading north up School Hill, the other name for Craighead.

It is a strange site and every time I come here I think something different. Three of the stones are probably from the original circle, the tallest of which could well be in its original place. Sadly three others were taken away to become gateposts or had a meeting with a stone crusher. The fourth, more pointy stone, was put up during the mid 1850s. According to the farmer at Auchlee it was a rubbing stone removed from a nearby hill.

A beautiful clear day with some snow. Wonderful!

Visited 14/12/2017.

Clerkhill Wood (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

With Storm Caroline for company obviously the best place to go for a walk was Clerkhill Wood near Bridge Of Don, Aberdeen.

From the Bridge of Don take the B997 north west taking the first minor road heading south, signposted Whitestripes (love that name!) and Grandhome. Go past the next minor road and pull in just at the next wood. There is a forest walk and it can be easily found. Sadly just look for all the empty tins (and other evidence of a fairly wild party) and you have reached the start of walk.

Follow the track straight west following the dry stane dykes which lead to Clerkhill Wood, once past the rubbish dump at the start, a very nice walk.

NJ 9078 1190 This is the best preserved hut circle and is an impressive size. It is almost 10m wide with walls well over 4m in width and in some places almost 1m high. The trees standing on these walls almost mark out the site. To the south the front door is almost 1.5m wide.

NJ 9079 1192 Going by my ratings this is the second best hut circle and is only a short distance from NJ9078 1190, only just over 20m to its centre. It also is 10m in width but has seen better days. The walls are about 3m in thickness and almost 0.3m high. Once again trees sit atop these walls.

Both of these sites are just to the north of the track. The third hut circle is to the south.

NJ 9077 1183 On the 'drew scale ratings' this is least preserved hut circle. Difficult to find it is just over 6m wide and has walls up 3m wide which come to height of 0.2m at its highest with trees sitting top. From its neighbours it is 60m to the south.

I walked to the southern edge of the wood, following the track, and found a view of the place were I used to work except instead of an office and a couple of warehouse there are thousands of houses stretching from Stoneywood, all through Mugiemoss (home to quite a few paper mills), Danestone and up to Bridge Of Don with more going up all the time. Sad really!

However Clerkhill Wood, worth a further visit I think.

Visited 7/12/2017.

Norrie's Law (Cairn(s))

The last stop of another fine say in Fife was at the Norrie's Law cairn with its magnificent views of the Firth Of Forth to the south, Craig Law to the east, the flaring of the refinery at Grangemouth and the River Forth to the west. Some less than superb views of fir trees are to the north. Still 3 out of 4 is pretty good.

Situated right next to a farm track, the cairn is housed in by a fence which looks equally prehistoric. I jumped the fence as if I opened the gate it looked like it might never recover. Despite being overgrown it is an impressive place and with night fast falling the views and silence added to the atmosphere. The flare to the west only indicating how dark it really was, also it indicated how beacons would have worked back in olden days.

It still sits at almost 20m wide and is around 4m high.

From the centre of Ceres take the minor road south then take the first minor road east. After a wee wood take the first farm track south which will lead straight to the cairn. A nice way to end the day.

Visited 27/10/2017.
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Still doing the music, following that team, drinking far to much and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

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