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Fieldnotes by thelonious

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Binn Hill (Cairn(s))

14/04/2018 - It had been a nice day so far mooching about a few hills between Keith and Fochabers. We were making good time so in the afternoon we decided to head a little north to the coast and visit Binn Hill. I had remembered seeing Drew's post about the cairn on TMA a while ago and thought the location looked good.

Parking and access from the south is good. The walk around Binn Hill is excellent. A very pretty place especially in the sunshine. The cairn wasn't too hard to find at this time of year before the bracken does its thing. OKish cairn with a couple of decent sized kerb stones still left.

If you visit and have the time, it's worth walking round the hill. The top has what looked to me like an old enclosure, very intriguing. From east of the summit you can head down through the 'sea of stones' to the sea. Just a lovely area with one of the most extensive shingle systems in Britain.

I've been a bit fed up recently so it was a good visit to cheer me up a little. Sunshine, a nice place to walk and old stuff to look at, that will do me.

South Ythsie (Stone Circle)

17/02/2018 - Must be well over ten years since our last visit. The reason for our trip was the Prop of Ythsie. Neither of us could remember if we had been there last time (the old memory is going).

What a lovely day yesterday was. Little wind, sunshine and blue skies. A good time of year to visit the stones with everything died back. The circle was a little bigger then I remembered, I had it in my head as just a little thing.

It looked just lovely in the sunshine today. We stood in the middle for ages, looking at the stones and then trying to spot skylarks singing high above against the clear blue sky. Magic visit.

The piece from the split stone seems to have gone. Anyone know anything about this?

The Barmkyn (Hillfort)

04/02/2018 – Not been here before and you know what, I really liked it. Way up is short but a little gorsy and a bit of windthrow to get round. The fort sits in a lovely clearing. Nice size outer wall, very tricky to see any inner wall. After a rainy start to the day, the sun came out whilst we were there which made our visit. Well worth a trip if you are visting Old Keig RSC.

Satter Hill (Cairn(s))

04/02/2018 - Been over Satter Hill a few times but didn't remember the cairn. Made sure to have a look for it this time. Same route as Drew's. Old maps list it as 'a pile of stones' and it's hard to argue with that. Not much to see but the view and walk was nice. A little rainy first thing but nothing too bad and a very light dusting of snow on top.

Dundee Law (Hillfort)

28/01/2018 - Heading back from Edinburgh to Aberdeen on the train we decided to stop off at Dundee for a walk. We didn’t pick the best of weather days for it. Got off the train just after nine and 10 minutes later the rain started and didn’t really let up for the rest of the walk.

Very quiet Sunday morning streets as we headed first to Balgay Hill. Nice hill with an observatory on top. Don’t think there is anything old here but it look a good place for a bit of megalithic.

Heading east we moved on to Dundee Law. Easy to get a little lost in the streets between the two but nothing too bad. A short climb first through allotments and then steps got us to the top. I guess the views from here are great on a sunny day but today the low cloud and rain put paid to that.

Hard to see if we were looking at any bits of the original fort as we walked around the top. Impressive war memorial and trig there as well.

We headed south back down through the streets to the train station. Overall a nice quiet walk to visit Dundee Law hillfort. Worth going on a clear day just for the views.

Edinburgh Castle (Hillfort)

27/01/2018 – After a very windy walk round Arthur’s Seat in the morning we made our way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.

Our siege on the castle was quickly halted at the entrance by a very nice woman who informed us that our rucksacks were too big to take in (44L size in case you were wondering, pack small if you visit). With our attack thwarted so quickly we made the slow walk back to where we were staying to regroup.

One hour later we were back. Travelling light we made it past the guard this time and into the castle. Our second assault again came to an abrupt halt. This time by a long snaking chain of people. Quickly realising this might work to our advantage and offer us a way through we joined the queue and tried to blend in. What seemed like hours later (probably nearer 10 minutes) we reached the head and another nice person to deal with. This time we made it past first go though not unscathed, my wallet took a direct hit on the way (£34 for the two of us).

Finally we made it into the main areas, we went into full tourist mode and started taking photos of anything and everything so not to draw attention to ourselves. High point is a little debatable but I liked the rock outside St Margaret’s Chapel though I felt a little silly standing there for the obligatory photo. Views from the castle are wonderful and it’s such a good location with a history that stretches back through the mists of time.

We thought our ruse of acting like tourists had been rumbled when a loud bang nearly gave me a heart attack. A quick scan of the map we had been given informed us it was just the one o’clock gun firing and they do it every day. Relieved we headed further inside and went to look for the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. The security was tight and my belly was starting to rumble so we left empty handed and made for the cafe. Turns out we weren’t the only folk looking to get their hands on plenty of loot, nice food though despite the price.

With happy belly again and all batteries walked we made our way out. I sadly resisted the urge to sit on a cannon for a photo as the oldest person doing so looked about 5 years old and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself (bit rubbish getting old, I should care less what people think but I like to stay hidden in life).

Yes it's a bit of a dear do to enter and nothing megalithic to look but there’s a wonderful sense of a continuing history to the place as you walk around. It’s well worth a visit.

Red Hill (Cist)

20/01/2018 – It had been over ten years since our last visit to Benaquhallie. Don’t know why really, it’s just a short drive away from where we live and it’s a nice quiet walk with good views. High chance of avoiding humans all day as well which is always a good thing. Guessing most folk start from the south but to make more of a day of it we started near Tillyfourie, to the north. Good parking at the start of the forest track (NJ 6390 1262).

Main point of the day was to revisit Benaquhallie via Red Hill (couldn’t really remember if I’d been there last time). The night before I’d had a look on the internet and found two cairns marked on the old OS maps. One just south of the trigpoint on Benaquhallie at NJ 6070 0859 and the other to the north in Culthibert Wood (NJ 6217 1122). Aberdeenshire SMR also had two possible cist burials on Red Hill at NJ 6182 0999 and NJ 6194 1003. So the day was planned - Tillyfouire to Benaquhallie via Red Hill and back, with a look at two cairns to see if they might be old and two possible cists. Sounded good to me.

Very cold start to the day, 6 below and it never made it back up to 0. Easy walking along the track to its highest point (NJ 6255 1028) where we left it to head SW to Red Hill. The trees had been felled since our last visit so the views were great on this cold, clear and sunny day.

Finding the cists was a little tricky as the heather is deep here. First one (NJ 6194 1003) all we could find was a single stone. It could have been anything and nothing. Second one (at NJ 6182 0999) was much better and really looked like a small cist to me.

We walked on to the cairn near the trigpoint for a brew and a bite to eat. It’s a large modern cairn and although there is a hint of a bigger footprint, my guess would be not old.

Heading back we skirted round the south side of Red Hill and then headed back the way we came. Nice views down to Old Kirk of Tough stone circle from here.

Back along the track through Culthibert Wood we took a detour off to see the cairn at NJ 6217 1122. Very small lose pile of stones. Though it’s been there a few hundred years, my guess is it’s not much older than that.

It had been a good day out (apart from a blister on my foot, which was annoying as I never get blisters). Fine hill and an interesting walk. The cist looked good to me, if a little worse for wear and it was good fun trying to find.

Bruce's Camp (Hillfort)

13/01/2018 - Earlyish start, least it felt like it as the lazy sun is still having a bit of a lie in at this time of year (I can't wait for the longer days). We started from Port Elphinstone and walked the Old Kemnay Road which is a nice beech tree lined track nowadays. Good views down to the River Don and Bennachie in the distance along here.

The track took us to Duncan's Forest and then we made a similar climb to Drew's, up to Bruce's Camp. No problems really access wise, it's pretty open woodland to the top.

In fact everything was going OK until near the top when about 30 seconds after mentioning Drew's fence problem from his fieldnotes to Mrs T, Bruce’s Camp decided to claim another TMAer. All I will say is that there was barbed wire and blood! There’s a curse on this hill, I tell ye.

We did make it to the top which is a nice open area. The ramparts are pretty overgrown.

I forget to look for the cup marked rock which is a little annoying. I’ll have to go back sometime which is OK as it was a nice walk.

Warton Crag (Hillfort)

23/12/2017 - Proper rubbish weather visit to Warton Crag. Low mist and fine rain. Didn't really find too much of the hillfort and it was just too wet for me to be bothered looking about much. Just a quick up and down to the trigpoint really.

We started and finished our walk at Carnforth train station (lovely tea room). Quiteish roads to Warton and then a lovely climb up through a wood to the top. Nice rocky bits as well. I guess on a hot summer's day this would be a lovely place to be.

Overall I did enjoy my visit even if my time spent at the fort was just a brief encounter :-)

Dun Dearduil North (Hillfort)

24/10/17 – Some places really grab me when I’m having a look on the OS maps. From the first time I noticed these two hillforts on Dun Dearduil I’ve been wanting to visit. When Drew mentioned them a few months back on here it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Dun Dearduil isn’t the easiest of places to visit though and that’s to put it mildly. Very cliffy on the west side and a big river to cross. The only access we could see from the map was from the east. Starting point was the track just south of Balnagaeline (NH5536625781). Nice walk along this track past Dirichurachan where after that the track turns right towards the trees and Dun Dearduil beyond. From this point onwards the walk took a more adventurous turn. No path, wet rocks, bracken, rotting trees to clamber over – it had it all! We climbed the small top, east of the forts first. The view from here of Dun Dearduil, with Loch Ness and the hills behind – just wow. Sunshine as well. From here we had to drop steeply 50m or so to then climb up to the forts. Very tricky terrain but we made it up the NE ridge to the top. Happy us to finally make it :-)

The north fort is fantastic, like a grassed over mini Tap o’Noth. The second fort, a short distance to the south is nice as well. The location of the forts is as good as it gets. When the sun came out, it felt like there could be no better place to be. We had our sandwiches sitting on the steep east side of the hill, looking out over the wonderful landscape. This really is a lovely area to visit.

From here it was again a tough bash back to the track. Never fallen over so many times in my life!

Drew, Mrs T and me all made it back to the car in one piece (a minor miracle given the terrain). Top day out that had a little bit of everything I love when visiting sites even though my legs were still feeling it two days after.

A proper adventure :-)

Rudston Monolith (Standing Stone / Menhir)

25/09/2017 – We had popped down to Scarborough for a long weekend just for a bit of walking really. A few days before we came I noticed that we weren’t too far from Rudston so we crammed 3 days of walking into 2, leaving our last day free for a visit to this mega monolith.

Easy enough to get to by car but we were on the bus, which still wasn’t too tricky. Morning 121 bus from Scarborough to Burton Agnes and then a 3 mile or so walk down quietish country roads to Rudston.

We arrived at the south side of the church and had a little debate as to which way round the church we wanted to go for our first sight of the stone. These things are important I think, it’s not every day you get to see the tallest standing stone in Britain for the first time. We chose clockwise.

Rounding the corner of the building and there it stood in all its glory. It really is impressive and as wonderful as I hoped it would be. It seemed to grow and grow as we edged closer. It was hard not to just keep staring at it. So solid and timeless. I know the church and graveyard setting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I quite liked it and loved the difference in height between the monolith and the similar shaped gravestones round it.

After having a look at the small stone and cist in the corner (it looked a little sad hidden away and dark with the overhead leaves at this time of year) we sat across the road on a bench and had our butties.

The inside of the church is worth a look and has a small display about the history of the area.

After one last look at the stone we started the slow walk back to the bus stop. We kept an eye out for any sign of the cursus that crosses the road to the south of Rudston but no luck. Did manage to find a coffee shop in Burton Agnes which helped with the wait for the bus.

Top day out and the Rudston monolith is a must see site.

Happy us on the bus back to Scarborough for an evening of chips and gravy and two penny falls.

Seamer Beacon (Round Barrow(s))

24/09/2017 – I liked this one. Not really much to see but the walk up from Scarborough is nice and the top very green with a good clump of trees hiding the beacon. Worth going for a little leg stretch. Nice views and the access is fine.

If you are in the area it’s worth popping by the Rotunda Museum near the sea front. Nice display of objects from Star Carr and Bronze age Gristhorpe Man with his fantastic tree trunk burial.

Louven Howe (Round Barrow(s))

23/09/2017 - X93 bus out from Scarborough to the Falcon Inn on the A171 to start a nice loop of three hills - Brow Moor, Stony Leas & Barns Cliff End. Long day and it was dark by the time we caught the bus back.

Good track to start through the trees and then out to the moor to make the small climb to the trig on Brow Moor. Even though it was still early in the day I knew already we just didn't have the time to look round this area for cup marked rocks which was a bit sad. We pushed on and headed west.

The walk between Brow Moor trigpoint and Louven Howe on the top of Stony Leas was easy going but felt long. The crossing of Jugger Howe Beck was nice and Burn Howe was worth a look. It did feel good to finally make it to Louven Howe for a sit and a brew.

There's plenty of round barrows around here and from the ones we saw, they all looked pretty much of a muchness. If you want to visit one or two, this and Lilla Howe make for a nice walk from a few directions. I don't think this would be the best place to visit in rubbish weather though.

Louven Howe has a large hole in it, I couldn't make my mind up about it. Bit odd.

After a stop to rest and take in the views, which are good, we headed south to enter the trees and make the long walk back to the A171 via Barns Cliff End.

Nice day out but couldn't quite fit in everything we wanted to see.

Dun Cuier (Broch)

10/08/2017 – A linear walk today along the west coast near the top of Barra. Starting from Eoligarry, we visited Dun Scurrival first. After a quick bob up Beinn Eolaigearraidh Mhor we walked south along the beach at Traigh Eais. A rocky coastline led past Dun Chlif to Ben Cliad cairn. From here we climbed Beinn Chliad and then headed back to the beach near Cleat. Started getting tired by this point in the day and it had been a long week but I really wanted to see Dun Cuier broch so we pushed on up the road and then along the A888 to the cemetery just NW of the broch. There’s a gate here on the other side of the road and an old waymarked path leading to the site. I think it probably carries on to Dun Bharpa cairn.

If you only have time to visit one galleried dun / broch on Barra and Vatersay this is probably the one to go for. Easy access as well.

Located on a small rocky top, it has good views all round. Nice bits of wall still there and you can make out where the galley is. Section of scarcement on the inner wall also.

The various thoughts of what is a fort, dun, broch etc I find interesting and the discussion on Canmore about this site is worth a read (link below).

https://canmore.org.uk/event/587363

This was the last dun we visited on a great week on Barra and Vatersay. If you like a dun or two it's well worth coming for a trip to these islands. Lots to see and the scenery is lovely.

Ben Cliad (Cairn(s))

10/08/2017 – Canmore has two entries for cairns close to each other near this location. After visiting this cairn and reading the descriptions on both I think they could be one and the same, could be wrong.

I really liked this one. A little tricky to be sure quite what I was looking at though (like a lot of stone settings on Barra I came across). Smallish structure with a kerb of stones. Two larger upright stones on the south side which felt like an entrance into the centre to me.

The location had a quiet feel and was a little lonely (in a good way). A place to come and gaze out to sea with only your thoughts and the cairn for company.

Dun Chlif (Stone Fort / Dun)

10/08/2017 - Nice feeling of away from it all with this one. It’s pretty easy to get to though from either way along the coast. This possible galleried dun is situated on a small tidal islet along a rugged coastline. It was by chance that we reached here at low tide so were able to cross to have a look around the dun. It’s worth a visit just for the location but why anyone would have built the dun here is a mystery to me. Must have been very different times.

Dun Sgurabhal (Stone Fort / Dun)

10/08/2017 – We got dropped off by the bus at Eoligarry. Walked along the road NE to where it turns N and then it was just a short climb S up to the little hill with Dun Scurrival on top. This galleried dun / broch (?) is in a very prominent location. Looks like it could get a bit breezy at times. If you were looking for a bit of privacy I doubt you’d build your dun here. Great views all round, north to the Uists and south along the lovely beach to the rest of Barra

Still walls to be made out but the interior is pretty much covered by fallen stones.

Took me a bit to get going today so I don’t think I gave it my best attention. My brain was like the skies up above – a little cloudy this morning.

Balnacraig (Chambered Cairn)

08/08/2017 – Before the start of our trip I was hoping for just one good weather day for this walk amongst the hills and stones in the middle of Barra. It had been raining on and off the first two days but the forecast looked great for today so off we went.

Starting from Castlebay, we headed NE up the road to the high point and then climbed up to Heabhal (bit of a slog). Then up and down a few minor tops to make the steep descent to Beul a’ Bhealaich, where a lovely standing stone (now fallen) is positioned at the top of the pass. From here we climbed Grianan (Good views and a fine place for a brew). After a rest, we went NW to visit Tigh Talamhanta aisled house and then SW to the wonderful Dun Bharpa chambered cairn. A brief diversion to the top of Beinn Mhartainn (nice top) and then back past Dun Bharpa to Balnacraig chambered cairn. There's a small cairn marked on the OS 1:25000 south of Dun Bharpa but it’s not that exciting.

Tired by the time we reached the last cairn but the sun was still shinning and the stones of Balnacraig looked so nice against the sunlit hills behind. Hard to make out the original shape but I think I could see where the chamber stood. Well worth a visit along with the excellent Dun Bharpa.

We headed west down the track to the main road to start a slow plod back to Castlebay. Very good day out.

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.
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