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Fieldnotes by thelonious

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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.

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.
http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?path=179
(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.
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