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Return to the Land of the RSC - Day Three.

My third day in Aberdeenshire began with its coldest morning so far. -5 still didn’t feel so bad though, as the wind was kind, and the landscape just had a glorious monochromatic vibe.

Springhill — Images

<b>Springhill</b>Posted by ruskus

Nether Corskie — Images

<b>Nether Corskie</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Nether Corskie</b>Posted by ruskus

Today’s target area was the A944 corridor running up from Dunecht to Alford, taking in the Dunnideer area of sites. More than enough to keep me busy!
I aimed for Balgorkar being first on my list, and as I travelled out that way I passed by the standing stones of SPRINGHILL, and had actually forgotten all about NETHER CORSKIE. I didn’t head down from the road, over the field to the remaining recumbent and flankers, instead I was satisfied with just a longview via the camera.

Balgorkar — Images

<b>Balgorkar</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Balgorkar</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Balgorkar</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Balgorkar</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Balgorkar</b>Posted by ruskus

BALGORKAR itself is one I’ve wanted to see for a long while, since having visited Castle Fraser many years ago (pre-megalithic obsession years). At this halfway point in my week, I was aware of how lucky I was to have this chance to explore so many sites in one go, but also about wanting to actually take in each moment properly. It is not about ‘collecting’ numbers of sites, but more about having a number of experiences, and I reminded myself to soak up my time among these stones. In another life (my job), I get to teach mindfulness, and I was aware that this approach is something that easily marries up with each visit. Enjoy it, don’t rush it. At this point, a call from my daughter at University, made me spend a longer time here, and although equally focussing on her, I also had time to study the circle more. The mist hung low over the field with the two outliers nearby, and apart from some horses nearby nothing stirred in this frozen valley this morning. Balgorkar felt stark and ancient, and commanded my attention.

Deer Park — Images

<b>Deer Park</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Deer Park</b>Posted by ruskus

By the time I got to DEER PARK the sun was coming out, and this collection of three stones felt somehow warmer in every way, compared with Balgorkar. I parked in the cul-de-sac, just down from the big red gate on the corner. I walked down to the corner of the astro-turfed pitch, where a big chunk of fencing is lifted, leading onto a path down to the stream, which in turn leads down to the river. From here, you turn left along the bank, until in a few seconds you are about to leave the cover of trees, and then must turn left and head back up the hill towards the road. A pretty little spot.

Whitehills — Images

<b>Whitehills</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Whitehills</b>Posted by ruskus

Next up was a bit of a trek (20 mins each way) up the lightly snow-dusted forestry track that led to TILLYFOURIE. ‘Whitehills’ indeed. The snow covering the fallen stones really helped define the circle amongst the grass and heather. Although I felt away from everything, there were lots of footprints in the snow around and through the circle already this morning. Easy to find, and easy on the eye.

Cothiemuir Wood — Images

<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Cothiemuir Wood</b>Posted by ruskus

After leaving here, I managed to completely miss the road up to North Strone RSC, and after a long time spent at Tillyfourie, I decided that trying to get back on track (and a long-ish trek up to North Strone) would take too much time. So I pushed on, stupidly missing Druidsfield & Druidstones, and ended up in Keig. First I went east to COTHIEMUIR WOOD, following signs to the empty car park for the burial ground there. After a short walk into the trees, a path snakes off to the left, and you are soon into a clearing. Well…I suspected this one would be good, but Cothiemuir Wood RSC is just stunning. With just the clearing being frozen – the trees beyond sheltering the orange/green floor beneath – the site appeared like some holy relic. Like a cathedral of the forest. Beautifully graceful uprights, with sharp, balanced flankers gripping a massive slab of a recumbent. Winter suits this grey circle.
Probably the high point of my week, and shooting up my list of favourites. I really wanted to stay there for as long as possible, and found it hard to leave.

Old Keig — Images

<b>Old Keig</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Old Keig</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Old Keig</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Old Keig</b>Posted by ruskus

Still on a bit of a high, I made the short drive up to OLD KEIG, which provided a bit of a double whammy after Cothiemuir. Another fantastic RSC, albeit more trashed in part. The walk through the line of trees is all about the drama of expectation; leading you down the hill until big Old Keig greets you, like an old king in his branch-strewn throneroom. Although kept in its pen, and protected by trees, Old Keig sort of expands out into the landscape, down the valley and up to the distant rolling hills. This huge recumbent and accompanying stones have a truly timeless quality. Again, I could have stayed happily transfixed by here and nearby Cothiemuir Wood for as long as necessary. But, the afternoon was moving on…

Ardlair — Images

<b>Ardlair</b>Posted by ruskus

On reaching ARDLAIR I had a change of heart – possibly feeling not encouraged by the lack of any “to stone circle” sign, which I expected to find.

Stonehead — Images

<b>Stonehead</b>Posted by ruskus

I pressed on, wanting to get closer to Dunnideer. Took a quick stop at STONEHEAD, which is a beautifully placed monster. Feels an iconic RSC kinda feel here, looking perfect in the snow.

Dunnydeer Farm — Images

<b>Dunnydeer Farm</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Dunnydeer Farm</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Dunnydeer Farm</b>Posted by ruskus

Wish I would’ve stayed longer here, but moved along to DUNNYDEER FARM, where I barely had space to park up, before following the many dog walkers up the hill, through the trees (bit like the reverse of Old Keig). As the path swept ‘round I first saw the top of Dunnideer, with its ruined arch, before reaching the small group of trees which hang messily about the last remaining stones. It’s a great spot, though not the greatest looking recumbent and flankers. Probably looks stunning in the summer, but feels wrecked in December.

Wantonwells — Images

<b>Wantonwells</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Wantonwells</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Wantonwells</b>Posted by ruskus<b>Wantonwells</b>Posted by ruskus

Time to go home, as the light was disappearing quickly, I thought. However, I realised I was coming down right near WANTONWELLS, so made a quick detour up the road to the deserted little field, with its snowy bundle of rocks. Great view back across to Dunnideer once more.

Now the light really was gone.
Posted by ruskus
19th December 2018ce
Edited 23rd December 2018ce

Comments (2)

Enjoying following your trip to Aberdeenshire, no doubt stirs lots of memories for many on this site and particularly welcome as my wife is holding me prisoner in the house until after Christmas so following other members trips is my new best hobby! Posted by costaexpress
23rd December 2018ce
Ha! Thanks for that. I could've rabbited on for hours and posted lots of pics of course, but that would add nothing really, so I tried to think about a few (slightly!) different shots, and a few words. Seeing so much in a short time risks having 'megalith fatigue', but I find that the memories are there, and will reappear for a long time after in surprising clarity. I often 'retread' my visits in memory, which may be the whole point (?).
Yes, I think the next week or so will be many trips to TMA to plan/dream/wish.
Posted by ruskus
23rd December 2018ce
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