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Dun Scriben

Stone Fort / Dun

<b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Nearest Town:Inverness (27km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   NH49132358 / Sheet: 26
Latitude:57° 16' 40.6" N
Longitude:   4° 30' 10.09" W

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<b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Scriben</b>Posted by GLADMAN


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I was expecting this excellent little hill fort to be anything but the obscure eyrie it would appear to be, at least assuming my experience is anything to go by. Set above (a tiny length of) the western shore of Loch Ness, the site overlooks the 'Great Glen Way' as it contrives to ascend from near water's edge to the small hamlet of Grotaig, the latter complete with large car park and an establishment selling - and presumably making - pottery. Likely to be pretty busy, then? The immediate area certainly is, long distance walkers trudging uphill, heads down with seemingly not one iota of interest in their surroundings, to link with the minor road which doubles as the path to Drumnadrochit. Dun Scriben is not. Busy, that is. No, not at all.

The first task upon arrival along the aforementioned road is to work out exactly where the tree-clad ancient fortress is located; the second, a much more difficult challenge, is to figure out a way to ascend it without being lampooned into buying a vase or two... lovely as I'm sure they are. The Grotaig Burn duly frustrates any attempt from the north or west... and a southern approach would seem to entail descending toward the great loch below. So, the east it is. It is immediately apparent that this is clearly not a very good idea, a great earthy chasm excavated by running water over the course of goodness-knows-how-long isolating hill from path. But since the clock is ticking on for what was supposed to be a quick 'n' easy visit, I conclude that I should have a go regardless. How hard can it be? Erm, to be honest it's not to be recommended from this direction - very steep, very unstable and there appeared to be a path coming up from the south as I gained the crest - but there you are. The final ascent to the summit is, if anything, worse and I resort to hauling myself up with the help of tree trunks. My Lord Greystoke I am not, so my poor knees take the brunt. Yeah, this had better be worth it, or.... or nothing, I guess.

It therefore comes as a very welcome surprise to find the tiny wooded summit defended by the remains of a substantial dry stone wall, most impressive upon the western flank where courses of original facing can still be seen in situ. The defences are also pretty upstanding to the south, whilst the extreme angle of the plunging hillside to the east and (approx) north might well have called for less original stonework upon those arcs anyway, promontory fort-style? Although the enclosing woodland restricts views, except toward the shapely ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh to approx south-west, Loch Ness can still be seen stretching away to apparent infinity occupying the Great Glen. Nice strategic siting for a hill fort. Iconic, too. Assuming anyone knows it's here! Or cares, for that matter. Yeah, the thought occurs that - 'possibly' - more people have seen poor old Nessie in recent times than have viewed the ancient defences of Dun Scriben hidden away, ironically in plain sight, upon this hill top.

I am more than glad I did. However... surely... there must be an easier way up? And down.
8th July 2013ce
Edited 9th July 2013ce