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Part 8- Summer Solstice

With the summer solstice looming, we started searching for somewhere to go that we hadn't been to before. Being in the Midlands we are pretty restricted as regards places we can get to easily for sunrise, but we were still pretty eager to do SOMETHING! Original plans were changed and changed again until it started to look like we might not be bothering at all. I wanted to get up and get somewhere for sunrise but that would probably need an all-nighter and I don't cope well without sleep (this is an understatement, I need to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours else I'm DREADFUL for days). SO eventually we decided to head north as we have been meaning to see Long Meg and the surrounding antiquities for ages but never actually had the fuel funds to do it. With an extra passanger contributing to funds we could make one hell of a day of things, so Flannel came along too and I consulted TMA for all the places worth visiting...

At the ungodly hour or 6am we piled into the car armed with a multipack of Monster Munch and some cheese sandwiches. Flannel has a mouth FULL of sweet teeth so he has the entire confectionary aisle of a supermarket in a cool bag but no actual food (Sometimes I feel like the babysitter and tell him its bloody good job I packed enough food for 3). SO we head north on a practically deserted M6 with the intention of staring at Long Meg and then pinballing back and forth as we head back home.

Somehow we manage to get to Long Meg and her Daughters before 9.30am and are surprised its so busy on a Monday morning! There is one guy and a dog who spent the night in a little green tent and 5 motor homes parked up with people half asleep in them. A surprising amount of people wondering around and a lady perched on one stone like a little pixie. There was evidence of a fire and some real ale bottles from the night before near the felled tree/ bench but it looked like it might have been a quiet gathering for sunrise and I instantly wished I had come the day before and seen the event. Long Meg was more beautiful than I imagined, mostly because I have only ever seen her surrounded by grey skies and drizzle! With a blue sky backdrop and a buzz in the air, I was really content to be here! Still though, theres a road through the middle of the circle! Who's idea was that!? I didn't drive through, It wouldn't have felt right or respectful at all. I set off for a good circumambulation and once I had made friends with the campers dog (animals love me for some reason...) I settled down for breakfast and a bit of photography. Lovely. NEXT YEAR I will see the sunrise here...

I know a few people who have visited Long Meg but not Little Meg just round the corner. She isn't on the maps so I guess most people have no idea she is even there (thank You TMA!!) so we drove round the corner and past the parking place and turned around and peered into a few fields and finally found the circle tucked away on the left of the field running alongside the road hidden in overgrown grass. Its a good job one of the stones in pretty big else I really don't think we would have found it. I was surprised to see art on one of these stones too; figured it would be more famous being so close to Long Meg and having art. We were glad to have the place to ourselves anyway and discovered how had it is to circumambulate a circle thats practically IN a hawthorn hedge... Ah well, a few scratches later we all sat down to enjoy the sunshine with a beautiful little circle and listened to the twittering of the local wildlife. Bliss.

ONWARDS! Lots to do and never enough time. Glassonby next, which I kinda know the location of, but I'm mostly guessing. So we end up driving 200 feet, stopping, everyone out the car to peer over gates and through hedges trying to spot it, back in the car, another 200 feet... And I'm sure I spot it in a field on the right but nobody believes me (this always happens!) but I park up at the next gate and head across the field that has a beautiful big tree to the right of the gate. The grass is waist high and the boys are wearing shorts and sandals (haha) so they whinge like children and still refuse to believe I saw the cairn until we practically fall over the blooming thing! Its only small but the view is wonderful! The ground slopes away behind the cairn and you can see why they would choose such a nice spot. The circle is almost impossible to photograph though, and we flap around with cameras until Mart says he is sick of being bitten by grass dwelling insects and we press on!

Now I know that Gunnerkeld can be seen from the motorway and that we had to ask at a farm... but thats about it! We found a farm that had a name along the lines of Gunnerkeld (Gunnerwell? Gunnerfarm? Gunnersomething...) and figured this must be it! Parked outside the gate, walked down to the farm and knocked at the farmhouse. A very nice lady answered and a border collie tried to knock me over. She gave us directions (the lady, not the collie) and we wondered around to the back of the house to find the circle. Its actually quite nice, if a little rundown and difficult to get a photo that doesnt have motorway vehicles flying past in the background! We didn't want to stay to long as we still had a few places we wanted to see and felt we should find somewhere nice to watch the sunset too, so set off again, dodging sheep poo on the way...

After Gunnerkeld we thought we would see the Oddendale complex. It wasn't part of the plan, but its on the map and we figured we may as well do as much as we can. We started upon the track and happened upon Castlehowe which is a lovely little circle surrounded by a barbed wire fence and a padlocked gate. Charming. The boys jump the gate but I'm not confident the rickerty old thing can hold my weight! I decided to view from a distance, which would have been fine but the farmer had put a water tank behind it, so my view wasn't great. Also had a quick look as Castlehowe scar row while I was there before jumping back in the car and headed along the track until it turned into someones drive! Theres lots of stones here but could we tell what was what?? There was obviously something on the track near the wall (which we late found out was Oddendale Cairn ) and there was something on the hill so we headed up there. Got some photos and it turns out its Seal Howe but I have to say that I wasn't impressed with the area and neither was Flannel, who hates walking when there isn't a great reward at the end!

The only other plan for the day is Gamelands so we head off for the last bit of the journey following a road and looking for a road called Knott something. Drive all the way to the end of the road, ask some people if they have any idea where the circle is. They don't (in fact they don't seem to know what a stone circle IS) so we turn around and try again. Park on the right at the entrance to a pot-holed track with a walkers sign which doesn't look promising but turns out its the right way!! You will know its the rght way because you go past a pond on your left! We kept on walking and saw a ruined archway with a dead tree infront in one of the fields to the right but couldnt see the cirlcle. Keep looking. Considered asking a farmer but glad we didn't because its in the same field as the archway, you just can't see it until you're on top of it!! And what a lovely spot it is too. The stones are pretty big, pink and glittery except for the stray limestone block close to the fence. We spent quite a bit of time here enjoying watching the lambs play before we decided to quickly drive to Arbor Low and Nine Stones Close for sunset.

Phew, what a day...


Long Meg & Her Daughters — Images

<b>Long Meg & Her Daughters</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Long Meg & Her Daughters</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Long Meg & Her Daughters</b>Posted by faerygirl

Little Meg — Images

<b>Little Meg</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Little Meg</b>Posted by faerygirl

Glassonby — Images

<b>Glassonby</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Glassonby</b>Posted by faerygirl

Gunnerkeld — Images

<b>Gunnerkeld</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Gunnerkeld</b>Posted by faerygirl

Oddendale — Images

<b>Oddendale</b>Posted by faerygirl

Oddendale Cairn I — Images

<b>Oddendale Cairn I</b>Posted by faerygirl

Seal Howe — Images

<b>Seal Howe</b>Posted by faerygirl

Gamelands — Images

<b>Gamelands</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Gamelands</b>Posted by faerygirl

Arbor Low — Images

<b>Arbor Low</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Arbor Low</b>Posted by faerygirl

Nine Stones Close — Images

<b>Nine Stones Close</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Nine Stones Close</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Nine Stones Close</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Nine Stones Close</b>Posted by faerygirl


Part 7- South for a night

April was not a good month for me. My 80 year old grandmother had a severe fall at the end of March, leaving her in need of pretty much full time care (which was left to me). As well as this my sister-in-laws hip dislocated again, which isn't that unusal as she has EDS, however, she also has a 2 month old baby boy, making life a bit tougher on all of us. Then Mart (my lovely other half) came down with a mystery bug which attacks him at roughtly the same time each year during which time he can't even keep water down which wouldn't be so bad, only it usually last 2 weeks and he only weighs about 9 stone after a full meal and really can't afford to lose anymore weight.

So I'm stressed. AND because of it I havn't had 5 minutes to myself, let alone visited any stones. So when the chance for a night in a caravan in Cornwall pops up I jump with both feet and grab it with both hands! I get cover for granny (a family member helps but doesn't seem too pleased about it) and I prop Mart up in the car with a sick bag and OFF WE GO!

Leave nice and early on the morning of the 29th and arrive at the caravan site by 2pm. Plenty of time to refill the car and drive to The Pipers which are huge but almost impossible to photograph! Mart doing well so far and I suddenly feel more alive than I have felt for weeks. Wonderful. Then onward to The Merry Maidens which is beautiful in the spring sunshine and we have the site to ourselves! I was surprised at the how small the stones were, so maybe I should have started there instead of at The Pipers. Next to Tregiffian who some muppet built a road through. Which is nice. Whos idea was that?? I have a small strop but recover quickly when I notice that it has a space man on that carved stone. He has a jet-pack and everything (Von Daniken was right!)

We stretch and consult the map. It might be dark soon so we have to make some decisions. We think Men-an-Tol for sunset is the best plan, with a visit to Lanyon Quoit on the way. And what a decision it is! Lanyon is beautiful and well worth the drive by itself. We spend about an hour there watching the sun drop in the sky and then head to Men-an-Tol. Now I have been forewarned, this site is a bit of a let-down because its much smaller than it looks in the photos. I had also been told that its a hell of a trek from the car park so I was a bit worried about the invalid I was towing along. We start the walk nice and slow, noticing the HUGE stones built into the wall on the left. They dont look like typical drystone wall type stones. Then we turn right and its right there. Not far. Less than 10 minutes even with a guy who hasn't eaten in 12 days. AND its beautiful. Yes its small, but so am I! Its lovely and the perfect place to spend sunset and forget the stress at home. I finally let out all that tension and feel like I could sit there all night.

Suddenly Mart thinks he might be able to eat something! We jump in the car and head back to town so Mart can stare at all the places to eat and decide what he wants. All in all, a bloomin' good day!


Thanks to the wonderful amount of seagulls on the roof of the caravan, we are up before 7am and ready for more stones. I had already written down directions to Stannon Moor so we head off in that direction. Now I KNOW there are loads more things to see in Cornwall but we have limited time and we usually travel with friends who like to see these things too. So we opted for this reasonably obscure site knowing we would be back to see some of the other "better known" sites another time. So Stannon it is. And dificult to find it is. We ended up at the end of the track where there is a small cairn like circle where someone has had a fire recently. "Well thats not it, its bigger than that". Its just then that I notice something higer up on the left and what a beast it is! The stones may not be big but there seems to be hundreds of them! Wondering around on the moor we can see bits and pieces that look like other old structures; walls and avenues and perhaps a cairn. Its a good site and we celebrate by going to a Japanese Garden for the afternoon (My other obsession is Bonzai Trees and we keep Koi so it makes sense!) We have managed to bag ourselves another night in the caravan so I cook pizza and we have a peaceful night in.


So now we have the journey home and wake up early (again) to choose some places to visit. We decide on Spinsters Rock and I remember there is one in a pub on the way so we head towards Dartmoor in the rain! Now whats the name of the pub... Its meaty... 2 meats... I remember thinking "urgh, meaty"... We start driving around the little towns at a snails pace peering at every pub and up every side street. Then there it is, the Oxenham Arms! I knew it was meaty! What a lovely pub! Stone floors and a very nice bar man who let us wonder around the pub (mistaking the Victorian folly for the real thing before being redirected to the correct room!) and even though I usually really hate this "borrowing" of ancient sites, I actually quite liked it here.

Next to Spinsters, which is a lovely little "magic mushroom" shape but unlike most quoits I couldn't bring myself to walk under this one. Looked far to precarious for my liking. We decide we can squeeze in Grimspound if we get a shuffle on so probably only spend 40 minutes with Spinsters, which is a shame because it really is nice apart from the angry farm dog. I say my usual "Thank You" to the stones under the confused gaze of the owner of the pissed-off dog. I guess these folk don't speak to the stones often...

Anyway, Grimspound. Well. Its horrid isn't it? Maybe the rain didnt help but its horrid. Felt like a grave yard. We walked around to the entrance and I could hardly bring myself to go in there. Stood there for a little while before having words with myself and pushing on. Those little enclosures don't "feel" like homes (and besides, surely they are too small!) they just don't feel right and we didn't stay long at all. Got back to the car just as the heavens opened to start the drive back.

What a holiday! But its back to being the family nurse for a few weeks...

The Pipers (Boleigh) — Images

<b>The Pipers (Boleigh)</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>The Pipers (Boleigh)</b>Posted by faerygirl

The Merry Maidens — Images

<b>The Merry Maidens</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>The Merry Maidens</b>Posted by faerygirl

Men-An-Tol — Images

<b>Men-An-Tol</b>Posted by faerygirl

Lanyon Quoit — Images

<b>Lanyon Quoit</b>Posted by faerygirl

Stannon — Images

<b>Stannon</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Stannon</b>Posted by faerygirl

Tregiffian — Images

<b>Tregiffian</b>Posted by faerygirl


Part 6d- So, which way home?

NOW, if you live in Wolverhampton (which we do) you should probably head SOUTH when you leave Scotland and head home. Sounds a bit simple for us to be honest. So breakfast on the 6th of Feb is spent peering at the road map with a hangover and we decide the best route might be the A97 north to Standing Stones of Urquhart which we know nothing about, but its on the map and, to be honest, is pretty lame, overgrown and miserable. There was a poo on top of the talest stone. Not a small poo either. I later learned this is probably a fox poo as they mark their territory by deficating on the highest points. I'm waiting for the foxes trying to claim Stonehenge.

Anyway, we continued out journey home by heading west (obviously) and vising the Sueno Stone which is amazing and the people in change of Aberlemno could take a minute to consider this way of preserving the stones yet still let visitors actually SEE the things! We had planned to press on the the Clava Cairns but we were starting to run short on time and wanted to buy huge amounts of Stags Breath Liquer from the visitor centre at Loch Ness (yumyum) so we opted for starting to actaully head south (towards our destination) and had a wonderful drive through winding roads with stunning views.

We think next Christmas we will try again... but with better preparation for extra stone viewing pleasure!!


Part 6c- Finishing off...

Thursday 4th Feb 2010! Well what a day! Early rise (the usual farse of everyone else wondering around looking lost while I clean out the car, make the packed lunches, make sure everyone has a coat, etc) so we can do AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. First we set off to Dunnotar Castle to watch the sunrise as non of us have ever spent it on the east coast. Turns out Scotland is far too cloudy in january to get a good sunrise :P ah well, at least we are up so now we can have a full day of stone circle spotting!! so we head south to Old Bourtreebush and Aquhorthies parking the car in what appears to be someones garden. I did a quick lap of the farm house to see if I could get permission to trek through the cow poo to the stones but nobody answered the door so we set off anyway. Actually quite nice as the misty sun rises up, even though they arn't in the best state and there really isn't much of Bourtreebush left! Its nice to be able to see the two so close together. Back to the car and we head north to find Craighead, well, to drive around and around in circles looking for Craighead and then give up! Back to the main road because we have FAR too much planned and not enough light to spend the day driving up country lanes!

Tyrebagger next on the list. We get the right route after a few wrong turns onto that bloody industrial estate (DON'T ask these guys directions, they have no idea what you're talking about...) we finally catch site of it at the top of the hill. A short (if snowy) mission and we are well rewarded with a beautiful cicrle, albeit with an odd view of the industrial estate! It has some very unusal flankers which look like sharks teeth! We give this one the time it deserves before heading back to the car and continuing north!

Next plan is a refuel at the garage next to Broomend of Crichie which I LOVED! Its not much, just the three stones together and the single stone a short distance away but it just felt to nice there (maybe ot was the sun and the coffee) but the pictish stone here is beautiful and well worth a visit. Jay and Zoe had an impressive snowball fight that almost ended in tears before we headed back to the road.

As we are so close we figured we would visit the poor Brandsbutt, sat sadly on its little council estate. We got an expected amount of funny looks circumambulating the little monument where there USED to be a circle before leaping back in the car and heading towards Loanhead of Daviot which looks MAGICAL in the snow and had hardly been visited wince the last dusting 2 nights before. Wonderful. The view is stunning and we can hardly believe our luck as the clouds part and bless us with blue skies, singing birds and crisp white snow. The best stone circle backdrop we could have asked for! The plan had been to go from here to New Craig but the snow was far too deep for trying to walk it and the car couldnt get up the lane. In fact we had to get out the car and give it a helping hand getting off the carpark and back down the lane...

SO we know there is SO much more to see in the area, but not how to GET to most of it, especially with the deep snow everywhere. My plans had included Dunnydeer Farm, Hawk Hill and Druidstones but we were far too vague on directions. Just for fun, James the Cat selects a road at random to see if the car will make it. A few little turns this way and that and the snow drift at the side of the road is ABOVE the car roof and then... Stonehead

What a view. What a place. To just stumble upon this wonderful recumbent as the light fades and the colours change was more than we could have asked for. The snow untouched and the view unbeatable, we really could believe our luck today (as if God was making up for the poor trip yesterday!) All that remains of Stonehead is a huge recumbent with flankers, but this site must have been amazing in its day. The view across the valley is stunning and everyone should get here at least once!

Well, the car makes it out. We all make it home and Martin cooks paneer. All in all a bloomin' good day :)

We decide to start late on Friday as its our last day and someone (probably me) has the great idea of picking up a nice country road to Aberlemno to see some great pictish stones before we head home. Well the drive was amazing and I almost crashed on a windy little mountain road when a HUGE bird of prey almost landed on the bonnet! BUT I had no idea that the stones were BOXED UP for the winter! Not even a bloody window??? Ah well, back we head a little miffed but still happy enough. We make a little detour to see Esslie the Lesser and Esslie the Greater and try to find Nine Stanes (but no luck there). The Esslies were both quite nice considering there unkept state and you could image there being lots more stuff around there once. The area had a nice feel and we all headed back for our last night in Scotland as quite a happy bunch!

Loanhead of Daviot — Images

<b>Loanhead of Daviot</b>Posted by faerygirl

Tyrebagger — Images

<b>Tyrebagger</b>Posted by faerygirl

Old Bourtreebush — Images

<b>Old Bourtreebush</b>Posted by faerygirl

Aquhorthies — Images

<b>Aquhorthies</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Aquhorthies</b>Posted by faerygirl

Broomend of Crichie — Images

<b>Broomend of Crichie</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Broomend of Crichie</b>Posted by faerygirl

Stonehead — Images

<b>Stonehead</b>Posted by faerygirl<b>Stonehead</b>Posted by faerygirl


Part 6b- More Scotland!

Tuesday... WHAT shall we do? We were thinking of a nice drive in the mountains and then a circle or two. So we though we would head through the Caingorms and visit Avielochan followed by Granish and Aviemore then head back to the cottage. If we had time, maybe sqeeze in one of the ones closer to home like too! Off we go, the flask is full the sky is blue the mountains are snowy... Too snowy... SO snowy that the roads are all closed! We know they were all closed because we TRIED them all. James the Cat has such a terrible mood on him that by the time we decide to give it up and turn around he almost kills us all on a patch of ice and its only a skinny little fence and a snow drift that stops us from plummeting over the edge!

Following a much needed coffee break, we head to Easter Aquorthies and arrive just as a blizzard breaks out. The trek up the path is freezing cold and glorious! The snow drifts are above my head and Zoe makes a lovely (if somewhat damp) seat in a snow drift. But what a circle! Just WOW what a circle! The recumbent stands proud against a grey sky heavy with snow and every stone seems perfectly chosen. Everyone forgets that we tried (and failed) to get across the mountains and head home to eat a lovely vegetarian stew. YUM!

NExt day is a day free of stones and we go deer spotting. Mch more successful than yesterdays as we see more deer than we can count! Wonderful!

Oh but THURSDAY... Thursday is a real day of many stanes :)

Easter Aquhorthies — Images

<b>Easter Aquhorthies</b>Posted by faerygirl
Showing 1-5 of 11 posts. Most recent first | Next 5
Hey Ho, here we go...

Geology graduate who grew up in the (barren) West Midlands, did some travelling and then ended up back in sunny Wolverhampton (mostly by default). Got some fab friends who like rocks as much as I do, so we spend lots of our freetime in country roads arguing over dodgy directions to another stone monument.

I'm as interested in the theories behind this stuff as anything else and think that most people are thinking too small. The positioning and alignment of most (if not all) burrows, megaliths, monoliths, bumps, dips and circles show an understanding of energy that we no longer possess. But thats all a bit too deep to get into on here. These trips are pilgrimages for me, in the same way as people visit churches or Mecca (silly modern religions)

I'm a holistic therapist living with the love of my life, Martin, and a lizard named Stan. I LOVE food as long as it never had a face, I'm rather partial to red wine and I'm happy to be alive and able to walk freely through moor, hill and vale finding sacred sites to "power up" and get me through.

Thats about it really...

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