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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Square's Knap (Cairn(s))

I've always wanted to go to the Square's Knap and Carmont cairns. The delivery of a trumpet to a nearby house provided the perfect opportunity.

Canmore's description as a turf and whin covered site are sadly, like a lot places recently I've seen, well out of date. Square's Knap has been well and truly removed.

All that remains is a circular pattern of pebbles, stones that are similar to Carmont, Cairn of Shiels etc etc and a change of soil colour. The next time this field is ploughed all evidence of the cairn will be removed.

I parked at Hillhead of Auquhirie and kept heading west using various tracks and fields until I reached the wind farm. At the main junction amongst the turbines keep heading west into a field and look into the small valley below. Piles of stones, whins and turf, the probable remains of Square's Knap.

To find the actual site follow the fence line until the wood appears, jump the fence and head up the small hill to the south. What remains of the cairn now lay scattered in the recently ploughed field.

Visited 28/3/2019.

Tillypronie (Cairn(s))

We parked at Tillypronie House which is going under extensive rennovation. The track heading west is in a fairly decent condition which we used to get onto the tarred road leading to the house. Keep heading west until a hardly used track heading south. This leads into a field, the remains of the cairn are on a ridge with glorious views of Morven.

Not much remains in a cairn that is almost 8m wide and no more than 0.2 high. Possible kerbs remain on the south and west. Sadly the site has taken tremendous punishment, nearby hut circles are barely visible.

Despite all of this I liked this site, I like this area and I like Morven.

Visited 1/3/2019.

James's Temple (Stone Fort / Dun)

Leave Craigiehowe Wood and follow the minor road, west, until the first minor road heading north west. Take this road until its meeting place with another road. Go north until the first minor road, signposted Drumderfit, heading east. At the farm I asked permission to park which was kindly given.

On the north eastern side of the farm there is a track which skirts the northern side of Drumderfit Hill. Keep going until the track ends and meets a track heading south east. At this point I headed uphill to find the dun sitting on top of a rocky crag. A very pleasant walk through the Black Isle countryside.

We approached from the west but the entrance is marked by blocks on the eastern side. Several large blocks make up part of the defences as well as the fallen turf covered stones of a wall. Once again the views over to Munlochy Bay, at the bottom of the hill, are beautiful. The forts interior is 17m by 11m. The pig sty is more recent.

This is a very nice site and a very nice walk, a bit of chill after the anger of Craigiehowe.

Visited 4/1/2019.

Craigiehowe 3 (Cairn(s))

This is the furthest east and the last remaining, as far as I could see (except Arrie), cairn of the Craigiehowe area. It is a sad state of affairs as it has almost been completely obliterated.

A very low mound about 10m in width remains and can be seen quite clearly. What looks like kerbs or smallish standing stones have been flattened, field clearance flung on top and sadly it looks like it will be completely removed reasonably soon.

Follow Craigiehowe 2 head north east then follow the track north, eventually this will head east, and keep going until an almost clear field. The remnants are in the middle.

Cracking views of Munlochy and its bay. Beautiful area this, with a trail of prehistoric destruction as follows.

NH 6787 5154 couldn't be found.

NH 6791 5157 gone.

NH 679 516 gone.

NH 6794 5161 gone.

Hopefully someone will come along and prove me wrong especially for the 'not found'.

Visited and not visited 4/1/2019.

Craigiehowe 2 (Cairn(s))

The second survivor at Craigiehowe sits right next to were I parked so is in fact a very short walk, it felt longer as I'd probably walked over a mile to get to the cairn near the house.

Situated next to forestry track I hope this cairn survives as a few sites nearby have been completely trashed.

It sits at almost 8m wide and 1.5m tall being covered in turf, furze and ferns. On the north east side some of the cairn can be seen.

Next it was on to the carnage :-(

Visited 4/1/2019.

Craigiehowe (Cairn(s))

This cairn appears to have done very well to survive as most of its near neighbours have received some very harsh treatment. Still this site was protected during the building of a very nearby house.

It sits about 12m wide and is about 2m tall with a small hint of houking. Some cairn material pokes through but otherwise the cairn appears undamaged which considering what has happened nearby is something of a minor miracle.

From Viewbank, near the path to Creag A Chaisteil, I headed back west then took the minor road heading north east until its end. For parking I kept going up the forestry track until I found plenty room to park. From there I headed back to minor road, headed slightly south then headed back north east on the tarred track. The cairn is in front of the house to the north.

Excellent views south and west.

Visited 4/1/2019.

Creag A' Chaisteil (Stone Fort / Dun)

Leaving Bogallan, head south and then take the first minor road heading east until its end, then turn right and then left, pulling in just after the Viewbank farm.

There is a fairly decent track which heads north east straight to the Creag A Chaisteil Dun. This is a very beautiful walk which has fine views of Loch Lundie to the south. After a few ups and downs, including walking past a hobbit house (I kid you not, after Bogallan's weirdness a hobbit house almost seems normal), there is a small climb through some jabby stuff as the path leads to the dun.

A terrific spot for a dun as on three sides it has steep slopes and cliffs as natural defences. Most of the man made defences are concentrated on the west and they themselves are now protected by furze etc. Stone work can be seen if get on your hands and knees. However these walls do not indicate an entrance, I managed to climb down on the south east side but that would not seem an obvious choice. The dun has tremendous views south to the Moray Firth, west to the fort on Ord Hill, east to Munlochy and north towards Alness etc.

On the way back no hobbits were seen!

Visited 4/1/2019.

Bogallan Wood (Cairn(s))

The cairn at Bogallan Wood is in a very weird place as there has been, in the not to distant past, a Wildlife Park here. Sadly, maybe not sadly depending your point of view, it has been closed for ages, empty enclosures, cage type things, closed restaurant/shop, abandoned little trains and small empty barns made me think that I was wandering through the set of the Twelve Monkeys, Dingwall was being invaded by elephants, giraffes and lions. Interesting thought.

From the A9 take the minor road heading north east , sign posted Drumsmittal, and keep going until the beginnings of Bogallan Wood. The entrance gate is now shut, so no entrance fee and we had the eerie place to ourselves.

This still is a huge cairn despite a lot pinching of stones for buildings and dykes. The round cairn is about 28m wide and well over 2m high.

Follow the road south west, go past the restaurant, a couple of barns and take the road heading west. The cairn is slightly to the south behind the barn.

Bizarre place!!!

Visited 4/1/2019.

Drumashie Moor 3 (Cairn(s))

We had looked for ages for the missing cairns and with time pushing on, we pushed on as well heading up through the wood back to the minor road going through Drumashie Moor.

Crossing the road we could see the reservoir and Loch Ashie to the south east. However we were looking for another cairn and this time we held straight east on the mainly dry heather.

A long time ago this cairn must have been massive. It still stands at almost 20m wide with a good number of kerbs and maybe the hints of cists still in place. Sadly, most of the cairn material has been robbed leaving scattered remnants which in parts reach 0.5m tall. However the visitor is compensated with superb views of Loch Ashie.

With that it was back to the car to head to Carn Glas (we'd been to several sites earlier much nearer Inverness), without any mishaps happening to me, I did get the chance to see A, my wife, do an action replay of falling backwards into a heathery puddle. Luckily it was a nice nice sunny October day!!!!

Visited 20/11/2018.

Drumashie Moor 2 (Cairn(s))

After the unsuccessful attempt to find the cairn at NH 6293 3600 we headed north east on the slightly more boggy part of Drumashie Moor, at least it saved walking on the busy road.

Walk until the small wood to the north, jump the fence and keep going. Underfoot conditions, by this time, are reasonably tricky thanks to the forest agriculture. At least the cairn at NH 6329 3681 is still there. It stands at almost 11m wide being 1m tall. Hard to spot, it is mostly covered in ferns although there are some gaps which reveal cairn cairn material. As usual the centre has had a bit of a houk.

Must have been impressive at some stage, difficult to tell, at least it is in a clearing.

It is mightily impressive compared to the two cairns at NH 6333 3683 and NH 6345 3677. Sadly they have gone :-(

Visited 20/11/2018.

Drumashie Moor 1 (Cairn(s))

At the Essich roundabout on the A8082 (Holm Road) head south and keep going out of Inverness. Keep heading south west until in sight of the beautiful Loch Ashie and pull in just after the reservoir on the east side. This was only safe place to park that we could see.

We jumped the fence on the eastern side to visit the first of what we hoped would be five cairns during a decent walk.

This cairn has wonderful views east, west and south, the north being blocked by the slope up to the road. Only a short walk through non boggy heather, heading towards the north east tip of the loch.

The cairn is about 8m wide and 0.3 tall, with hints of a kerb. We certainly found 3 earthfast stones and large flat stone in the centre, perhaps a capstone to cist.

Certainly a very beautiful site and worth visit just for that.

Visited 20/11/2018.

NH 6293 3600

When discovered in 1970, this was covered in whins. It is now completely covered in everything that could be described as jabby. Therefore, there is a fair chance that the kerb cairn is still there.

Spittal of Glenshee (Stone Circle)

For years and years I've been meaning to visit this site and for years and years I've completely forgotten about it.

However no mistake this time, we parked at the outdoor centre at the Spittal of Glenshee, wished they would pull down the remains of the hotel and a shops, what an eyesore.

We walked across the A93 and over the burn onto the Cateran Trail. The four poster cannot be seen from the track, however as the track veers south head up the fairly steepish grass covered hill. After a short climb the circle will be staight in front perched on top of a natural mound. If old Diarmid was buried here, then what a spot.

The four stones are less than a metre in height and mark a very beautiful place.

I remember a long time ago the Spittal of Glenshee being a thriving ski, hill walking, fishing and mountaineering centre, the Devil's Elbow was truly devilish. Modernisation and the upgrading of the road, the A93, may have improved driving, it most certainly destroyed the local businesses!

Visited 27/11/2018.

Corra-lairig (Cairn(s))

Once I again I went to visit the cairn, The Lair but this time as well as that site I went further north west to the site at Corra-lairig. This is fairly easy to get to, from the The Lair keep going until the track ends, the grack marked on the OS at this point appears to have long gone. Once there look north west and for the wee ferm toun, the cairn is to the east of the fence on a small mound.

Some impressive kerbs, seven of them, are on the southern side of the site which measures at 10m wide being just over 0.5 in height.

Even on a cloudy day the views up here are stunning!

Visited 27/11/2018.

Dun Mor (Hillfort)

Dun Mor, at the northern end of Glen Clova is in a stunning location overlooking the meeting place of the White Water and the River South Esk. To get to the fort is quite stunning as well.

From Marchburn head north west towards the hotel on the B955 and keep going on the minor road until it ends at Braedownie.

To get up to the fort is at first quite steep, a path is indicated opposite to the farm. This sign is a bit of a joke but on we plodded thinking the first hill, called Downie, was the fort. How wrong was I, we walked a fair distance and I hummed and heyed about continuing, eventually I decided to go on.

From here it is dangerously steep, large boulders mostly with small slippery stones between only the occasional flat to have a breather. In reality I should have gone back down but slowly I made my way up eventually reaching the forts north end. Looking back down I could see that it was one of the stupidest decisions I'd taken. However the view is stunning, the two aforementioned rivers, The Corrie, looking up Glen Doll, back down Glen Clova, and the Red Craig, Cairn Derg immediately east towering above.

One thing for sure nobody in their right mind would attack from the south and west. The builders of the fort took full advantage of the natural rock filling gaps with ramparts, very low trenches stretch across from north to east, the only possible entrance. All of the ramparts are grass covered with only the occasional stone sticking out. The forts dimensions are almost 100m by 50m. Interestingly there had been a fence around the west and south edges, all that is left of them are the metal stakes used to hold them.

Now the entrance of the fort is to the north, and we went through this to get to the trees beyond as I wasn't going back the way I'd came. After climbing the fence I walked about 20 yards into a track which in its Tour de France way led back to a 1/2 mile further up the road. There is always a path!!!

Still, there is a sense of achievement in climbing to the top of a hill even if it is pure stupidity to get there. Great site, spectacular views, use the forestry track which is marked on the OS map.

Somehow, no injuries!

Visited 7/8/2018.

Belivat (Crannog)

From Ferness take the A939 heading north and pull in after the second minor road, Loch Belivat is to the west. There are parking facilities and walks in the surroundings.

Belivat is beautiful small loch with the crannog situated near its north eastern bank.

Visited 18/7/2018.

Marchburn (Cairn(s))

Now despite being almost completely hidden by heather Marchburn is a lovely site and very rarely visited.

Once again we headed north west from the Wheen car park. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the north side of the B955. There is a track, not marked on the OS map between Adielinn Cottage and the road to Inchdowrie House.

This track heads north, follow it until what looks like a quarry, come away from the track still heading north. This isn't to steep and takes you to the cairn.

It is quite an impressive wee cairn with a boulder kerb, one of them being a large quartz boulder. It still sits at over 6m wide and is just over 0.6m tall. Impressive views from a higher vantage point again make Glen Clova even more magical.

Visited 7/8/2018.

Wheen3 (Cairn(s))

The third of the Wheen cairns and still no let up in the scenery, this time we get to see it from a much higher vantage point.

From the Wheen Cairn we made our way back to B955, headed south east and crossed the Burn of Wheen once again. Luckily there was a hole in the fence that let us head uphill and north east. We followed a track of sorts until it ran out, however with the dry conditions underfoot conditions were good. Keep following the fence and it leads straight to and over cairn.

To add to the cairns misery a sheep pen has been added to it's southern flank. Underneath the heather, kerbs can still be spotted marking the edge of a cairn that is almost 9m wide and at least 1m high.

Glorious views again which include the River South Esk, 2 cairns, White Hill, Finbrack and to north the first glimpse of the toughest part of the day.

We followed our steps downhill and rejoined our track. This meets with a track heading south, this will lead, over variable ground, straight back to the car park.

Visited 7/8/2019.

Wheen (Cairn(s))

From the ring cairn we retraced our steps except where jumped the burn and headed north west to a massive cairn situated in the middle of a field.

It's obvious field waste and clearence have been dumped on to the middle of the site, it is also obvious that a fair amount of 'houking' has taken place and it is obvious that this is still a stunning site.

Massive boulder kerbs mostly remain intact on the west, however there kerbs dotted round the cairns edge. The kerbs here might well have been deposited along with field waste. Within the kerb sits a cairn almost 18m wide and 1.5m high.

It would be safe to assume that flooding happens a lot here thanks to nearby Esk but unlike a lot places the prehistoric folk built things to last. They also built places with a good view, they couldn't get a much better site thanks to the glorious surrounds of Glen Clova.

Visited 7/8/2018.

Wheen 2 (Ring Cairn)

We made our way back to car park, from the burnt mound, and walked north west on the B955 for a short distance. Just after crossing the Burn of Wheen there is a gate on the west side of the road. Jump this and head south, jump the burn and head up the wee hill. The ring cairn is in front.

It is in better condition that Grasslet but is still one of those 'what if' sites. What remains is pretty good and worth seeing.

The outer ring is almost 11m wide and its central court is 4.5m in width. Its a pity the site is mainly covered in turf, however there is a spectacular site just over the fence.

Visited 7/8/2018.

Wheen 4 (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia)

After refreshment at Grasslet we headed up to Wheen, plenty of car parking as the area is a nature reserve.

Apparently there are two burnt mounds side here, somehow I missed it (one of the photographs seems to have a mound cheekily sneaking into the background). Still this burnt mound is easily spotted thanks to a fence post being stuck in the middle of it.

From the car park, head thru the gate and head north east. Easy underfoot conditions with a fence post being a superb location finder. It sits at 11m wide and at its tallest is just over 0.5m tall.

A nice start to a very scenic walk.

Visited 7/8/2019.
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