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Fieldnotes by thelonious

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Tormain Hill (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

28/01/2019 – Early morning bus out to Wilkieston from Edinburgh (big thumbs up to the Edinburgh bus network, cheap and you can get a bus nearly anywhere). Good access, sign posted path to the top of Tormain Hill from the north. We reached the stones just before sunrise. Lovely open woodland setting. I think we counted seven stones with cup marks on them. The pick of the bunch is the one with the cup and ring markings, it’s very good indeed. Really enjoyed our visit here. It was pretty special watching the sun rise from behind the Pentland Hills to slowly light up the stones and surrounding area, magic.

Blackford Hill (Carving)

26/01/2019 – Walking a few of the tops in Edinburgh. Blackford Hill was the last of the day so we thought we’d have a go at finding the deer carving. Turned out not too bad to find. Close to the top of the hill, just a short distance from the steps behind a big tree. It’s steep though but nothing too tricky if you take your time.

I was fair chuffed to find it. A nice little adventure away from all the runners and dog walkers on a pretty busy hill. I didn’t know what to make of the carving really. It didn’t seem that old to me but I still really liked it. A proper mystery.

Plenty of nice walks round and over Blackford Hill. Pretty easy going. The top is the site of a fort but not much to see of it. The views are very good of Edinburgh and the surrounding area. This carving was a nice cherry on top of the Blackford Hill cake.

Brown Caterthun (Hillfort)

31/12/2018 - A few weeks back most of the Aberdeen bypass finally opened, first talked about in the 1950's, it's been a long wait for folk round here. I can't put into words the level of excitement this has caused. It's all folk have been talking about for the last few weeks (apart from that new RSC!).

Today I thought we would have a trip south on it to see what all the excitement was about. We decided to head to the Caterthun hillforts. I'd been to White Caterthun years ago but for some strange reason I didn't visit Brown Caterthun at the same time! Very odd.

We parked up at the roadside layby between the hills just past 9 o'clock. We went first to White Caterthun. It's such a fine hillfort, great walls and a lovely cup marked rock. Next it was time to climb our last hill, Tump, top, call it what you want! of the year. It's an easy stroll up (no cows which was a bonus). Brown Caterthun hillfort might not be as impressive as its neighbour but it's still a good one. It's big! Lots of grassed over ramparts. You can easily find a quiet spot for a brew and a bite to eat. The views all around from both forts are fantastic.

It was a fine way to end the year and that new bit of road round Aberdeen was quite good too :-)

Leachkin (Chambered Cairn)

29/12/2018 - Day trip to Inverness for a loop round three little tumps. It was a fine walk that also included along the way this chambered cairn and a hillfort later on.

We took the Great Glen Way from Inverness to make the steepish climb up to this cairn. It's a little off the path but not too hard to find.

Leachkin chambered cairn is of Orkney-Cromarty type. Though just a few stones remain, the entrance and chamber can be made out. The tallest stone is over 6ft in height.

Really nice location for this one and I loved the feel of the place, very peaceful in the morning sunshine.

The stones are nice. Reddish cobble and boulder conglomerate (Kilmuir Conglomerate Formation formed 385 to 398 million years ago, an age that hurts my head a little to think about). Same stones as under the hillforts of Craig Phadrig and Ord Hill to the north.

Well worth a visit if you are passing by.

Torrisholme (Round Barrow(s))

22/12/2018 - Down in Lancaster for a few days of walking. Train strike today, had to change my plans a little. After a hill in the morning we ended up near Morecambe so decided to visit here. Tump, trigpoint and barrow with a fine view - can't go wrong. Easy access from the lane to the south. Cows might be a problem but not today. It had been a bit rainy in the morning but the sun came out as we made the short climb to the top. Really lovely views from this one for such a little hill. Not much to see of the barrow, just a grassy lump. After taking in the surrounding landscape from the barrow we headed to Morecambe for an afternoon walk along the prom. Nice day.

Auchindoun (Hillfort)

10/11/2018 – A good old castle in ruins is just great. This one at Auchindoun is well worth a visit. There’s a newish carpark now a short drive up the track from the main road. Location is wonderful with fine views of River Fiddich and surrounding hills. I was really taken aback by the size of the ramparts of the bivallate Iron Age fort, they are huge. The medieval castle in the middle of the fort is really fine as well, it took me back to visits to castles in Wales as a kid. Very exciting.

It was a lovely November day out with a walk in the Cabrach in the morning, then a visit here followed by a pop in to see Nether Dumeath stone circle on the way back. All in the fine company of Drew and co :-)

Cairnshee Woods (Cairn(s))

28/10/2018 – I’ve not been here before, stupid me as the cairn is huge and pretty fantastic. Same starting point as Drew. Little bit tricky finding it. Don’t bother trying to follow the track on the OS map, it gets messy. Better really, once you're in the wood, just to head up, you get there in the end. From the photos on here the cairn looked big but it’s even bigger than I thought it would be. Really good and the location is lovely in open woodland. Well worth a visit.

Allt Chrysal (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

06/09/2018 – Long day walk visiting the various tops on south Vatersay today. On the way back we just had to visit the wheelhouse at Allt Chrysal. I just love this place. We visit a lot of the old sites and every now and again we come across one that for some reason just grabs us and stays. Standing in the middle of the wheelhouse I felt very lucky to be back. A special place. It’s a site for daydreamers.

Breibhig (Standing Stone / Menhir)

05/09/2018 – We missed these stones last year. Looped walk from Castlebay over the tops of Hebhal and Hartabhal to visit them this time. The still standing one is just great. Close to 10ft tall I’d guess. Unlike its fallen comrade nearby, this one’s still hanging on. Maybe not as straight as it once was but it had a defiant air about it. Like it was nowhere near ready to be beat by the tag team of time and gravity. It was evening by the time we reached the stones. Meant a lot to get there. A happy visit. If you go to Barra these should be on your list of things to see, easy access by the way from the road.

Totronald (Standing Stones)

04/09/2018 – These two decent sized and fine shaped stones some 10-15 metres apart are very nice. Easy access from the quiet road nearby. Lots of cows about but most seem quite friendly.

Ben Feall (Cist)

04/09/2018 – Easy enough to get to. The walk up to the top of Ben Feall is quite short. Remains of a cist on the summit. What a view from the top. There’s a fort on the west side of the hill too. Well worth going for the walk alone. The beaches nearby are fantastic.

Getting about on Coll is a little tricky if you don’t bring your own car. No public transport so we took a brave/stupid decision to hire bicycles from the Post Office. I’d not been on one for well over twenty years but they say you never forget! The ride to and from the site was a little interesting to say the least but the roads are quiet so not much damage done. Think I’ll stick to walking from now on though.

Druim An Airigh Fhada (Cairn(s))

03/09/2018 – Cairn marked on OS map 1:50000. Very overgrown now and not much to see. The view’s nice though.

Bernera (Cairn(s))

03/09/2018 – Easy enough to find as the summit has a phone mast on it now. Just head for that. The top has the remains of a cairn on it. Not much to see apart from two sides of a cist. I liked the place and the feeling of a wide open landscape is impressive from here.

Dun Anlaimh (Crannog)

03/09/2018 – Excellent crannog and remains of a curved causeway. Makes me wonder if the causeway was always just below the water and curved so only those living in the crannog would know the safe way to cross? Really liked this one. One thing worth mentioning is that it is a pig of a walk to get to. Underfoot very hard going on east side of the loch. We came from Ben Hogh and left NW to climb Cnocan na Ban. Tough day.

The name for this crannog - Dun Anlaimh might seem a little odd. This crannog is actual on Loch Nan Cinneachan not Loch Anlaimh to the south (which does have its only crannog). This crannog was named way back when the two lochs were just one, called Loch Anlaimh.

Loch Nan Cinneachan (Standing Stone / Menhir)

03/09/2018 – Interesting little area this overlooking Loch Nan Cinneachan. On a level terrace west of the crannog there is a couple of cairns (both with kerb stones showing) and a standing stone. The whole place has a feeling that it has been lived in over many years. A little tricky to get to, go on a dry day.

Clach na Ban-righ (Rocking Stone)

03/09/2018 - I'm sure this is the stone mentioned in Rhiannon's folklore post elsewhere that Mr giant threw up to Mrs giant.

It's just so fantastic I had to give it a little hug when I got there. It's massive and just resting on three little stones - impossibly wonderful.

A must see place.

If you are going or have been to Coll, Boswell and Johnson's accounts of their visit to the island are well worth a read.

Most of Boswell's accounts miss out details of his visit to the stone, just saying it did not repay the trouble in getting to it! Link to his full account -
He measures the dimensions of the stone using his handkerchief! A technique I'm sure we have all used at some point in the past to measure stones :-)

Ben Hogh (Cairn(s))

03/09/2018 - Afternoon walk up to the high point of Coll. The view from Ben Hogh is just wonderful and a must visit place when on Coll. It's an easy enough walk from the Hebridean Centre to the top. As well as the view you get an added bonus that the summit has a kerbed cairn. Trig has been plonked in the middle of it though. Kerb still showing best on the north side.

A fine place for a brew and bite to eat. Remember to walk a little way north to the rocking stone as well, it's fantastic.

(The actual top of Ben Hogh is some 500m SW of the trig and cairn)

Dun Hiader (Stone Fort / Dun)

02/09/2018 - Canmore describes this as a probable ground-galleried broch or oval dun. It's in a fantastic location and was probably my favourite of the sites on Tiree that we visited.

We approached down the hill from Carnan Mor. The weather was proper rubbish at this point. The two of us made a very wet climb up the craggy rock to have a look round the dun. Nice entrance and walls still in place. It's definitely a site to sit down and spend a few hours at but the rain just got the better of us and we had to move on all too soon which was a real shame.

The view out to sea and along the coast is great. The walk east to Hynish from here is very good.

Uamh Chaluim Chèaird (Cave / Rock Shelter)

02/09/2018 - The cave of Calum the tinker or something like that. Named after a traveller who used to stay here when visiting the island.

Canmore have this as a megalithic tomb and describe it as a maybe 'earth-fast dolmen'. I'm not so sure.

Still if you are in the area it's worth a look. The bay and the hills behind are very nice for a stroll.

Dun Hanais (Stone Fort / Dun)

01/09/2018 - We approached the dun from the south. It's a lovely walk along the beach. There's a parking area to the south. Turn off the road at NL 9419 4428.

Not much to see of the dun. Very grassy. A few stones still showing. The walk's nice though.
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