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Tulach Beag (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 23, 2021

Tulach Beag is dilapidated broch which can be visited as part of an excursion to the much more impressive Tulach Mor. As the remains of this broch have a fairly low profile, it is recommended to follow the route to the nearby Tulach Mor, then walk about 460 metres northwards along the bank of the River Thurso. As you approach, Tulach Beag becomes evident, just 40 metres inland from the river. No trace of walling, outer or inner, remains here.

Route Map
The map of Causeymire Windfarm on the Tulach Mor page actually shows the location of this broch.

Tulach Beag (Broch) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Tulach Beag</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Tulach Beag</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Tulach Beag</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Tulach Beag</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Tulach Mor (Broch) — Images

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Tulach Mor (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 23, 2021

Tulach Mor is the southernmost of the Westerdale brochs in Caithness, and stands adjacent to the River Thurso in the Causeymire Windfarm near Achkeepster. Unusually, perhaps, walkers are actively welcomed to explore the area of this windfarm. Access is via a good access road to the windfarm, to the west of the A9 and about 1½ kilometres south of Mybster.

Be aware that the much more expansive Halsary Windfarm lies immediately adjacent to and south of the Causeymire Windfarm (but is not at present shown on the OS map). Its spacious entrance is just a few hundred metres farther south. On my first visit to the area, I parked in the entrance to this windfarm and found the layout totally different to the windfarm shown on the OS map. If in doubt, look for the Map illustrated in the Artistic / Interpretive: section above. If you don't see a sign bearing this map beside the cattle grid at the start of the road leading into the windfarm, you are in the wrong windfarm!

Route to Tulach Mor
The purple marker "P" indicates the parking area at the windfarm entrance (you are not permitted to drive your vehicle into the windfarm). The green markers show the locations of the Tulach Mor and Tulach Beag brochs. The southern one is your target, Tulach Mor.

The walk to Tulach Mor starts with a trek of around four kilometres along a wide roughly metalled road. Keep to this road (yellow trail on the map) and avoid turning off along any of the short turbine servicing roads. All the turbines are indicated by small white markers on the map, and the one where you set off cross-country to Tulach Mor is a larger white marker indicated "X".

When you leave the road, you have a walk over a mixture of grass tussocks, heather and sphagnum (cyan line on map) for almost 600 metres, effectively due west. The main indicator to look out for is the River Thurso. Turbine "X", is the first turbine from which you can actually see the river, so basically just make for it. The terrain is mixed, and the easiest stretches are the frequent grassy tongues. I visited in drought cnditions, but I reckon the superabundant sphagnum could be a problem in wetter times. Almost at once, you should see the broch mound in the distance.

Tulach Mor is a prominent mound abutting the eastern river bank close to where the River Thurso dog-legs sharply towards the southwest. The broch stands on a rock with a steep rock face on the south and west and was originally protected by a ditch around its eastern side. On the east is a field of tumbled masonry, presumably the remains of a severely quarried wall that formerly crowned the ditch.

There's not a great deal of walling remaining, except on the south and southwest, where several courses of neat blocks endure. For the rest, the structure is just a grass-covered dome with a saucer-shaped depression in its summit, characteristic of the filled-in court seen in many brochs. On the northern arc of the summit some stonework of the broch's inner wall still protrudes while on its inner western wall is a lintelled breach leading to an intra-mural cavity.

Rumster (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 23, 2021

Rumster broch stands in Rumster Forest, not far from the broch at Golsary. Sadly, there is little to see other than a green mound with no evidence of stonework at all.

To access Rumster broch, follow the directions on the Golsary page but, instead of taking the turning to the right, continue south for about 700 metres then take the forest road to the left (east). Rumster broch is immediately evident in the field on your right.

Canmore does state that "one course of a curved wallface, made of heavy stones, is exposed in the south-west arc". I daresay that in spring, before the rank nettles and thistles hold sway, it might be easier to locate.

Rumster (Broch) — Images

<b>Rumster</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Rumster</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Borgue Langwell (Broch) — Images

<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Borgue Langwell</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Borgue Langwell (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 22, 2021

The remains of Borgue Langwell broch (red marker on map below) stand near the top of a short valley south of the Langwell Water (stream) near Berridale in Caithness. The structure consists of a grassy mound with remnant walling courses on the south and southwest only. Elsewhere, any stonework that had existed is now totally tumbled into an amorphous stoneheap. The broch mound itself is a grassy dome with a slight saucer-like depression in its summit and the occasional large stone peeking out from its sides.

Getting to Borgue Langwell poses a bit of a challenge. Until a few years ago, the OS map showed a woodland path leading from a car-park on the A9 (blue marker) almost directly to the site. But no longer. The trees have been harvested leaving behind a wasteland of stumps and branches that is almost impossible to cross: and of the original path there remains no trace. Add to this the fact that a large section of the area is now guarded by a high fence—presumably to protect new plantings—and the problem is compounded!

Starting from the car-park, which is 1.5 kilometres south of Berridale, the only practical route is to follow the A9 south. Fortunately, there is a wide grassy verge all the way, which makes this a very safe option. After 800 metres, the band of roadside trees gives way to a wide fire break which heads north towards Borgue Langwell. After a further 600 metres I arrived at a fence and gate. Frustratingly, the broch lies, not on the other side of the gate, but beyond a second fence heading off to the right. With no sign of a gate through this fence (though there obviously must be one somewhere), the remaining option was to clamber over it using the high slatted stile at the side of the gate. The broch lies around a hundred metres away beyond the remains of an old farm steading.

Golsary (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 23, 2021

Golsary broch lies in Rumster Forest, not far north of Latheron in Caithness. All that remains these days is a conical vegetated mound at the end of a low ridge in a clearing in the woodland. Close by are the ruinous remains of Golsary farmstead.

What impresses most on first sight is the height of the broch, which stands almost four metres tall atop the south end of the ridge. There was no sign of any stonework at the time of my visit, when the entire structure was buried under quite dense vegetation.

To the north, the ridge has been excavated to create a defensive ditch about two metres in depth, somewhat exaggerated by heaps of discarded spoil which have formed a rampart either side of it.

Getting There
Access to Golsary broch is easiest from the A9. Some 9 kilometres north of Latheron, just past Loch Rangag, a side road (signposted "Lybster 7") heads off to the right towards Rumster Forest. There, about 0.5 km after you enter the woodland, there is a car park on the left (blue marker on the map above). From here it is a walk of 2 kilometres southwards to the broch. The route is labelled 'Cycle Route' on the OS map.

Keep heading south and take the second turning on the left which leads gently downhill into a shallow valley. Best plan is to make for the U-bend in the road and follow the stream to the broch (red marker on map). Everything here is densely vegetated and you simply have to bash through it to your goal: there is no path.

Golsary (Broch) — Images

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Ousdale Burn (Broch) — Images

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Ousdale Burn (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 22, 2021

Ousdale Burn Broch is now beautifully consolidated, thanks to the efforts of the Caithness Broch Project over the past five years.

The central court, which previously sported a 70 year old rowan tree and was generally overrun by vegetation, has been cleared and covered with geotextile (to prevent the regrowth of vegetation) and gravel.

The broch wall, which had tumbled badly in the region of the entrance passage, has been carefully consolidated by stonemasons and the previously blocked entrance passage cleared of debris. It is now possible to walk into the broch through this entranceway, although you will have to stoop somewhat. The large guard cell leading off the entrance passage has been repaired and its corbelled roof restored. The collapsed wall recess (aumbry) has been restored with permission from Historic Environment Scotland, and at present contains a rather unusual bust.

The Caithness Broch Project website contains details of all the work that has been done at Ousdale Burn Broch, profusely illustrated with 'before-and-after' photographs of the salient features.

Access to the broch is now via a purpose-built path which starts from a new car park that has been created a short distance along the disused loop of the 'old A9' at ND 061 189, exactly one kilometre (0.6 mile) north of the "Welcome to Caithness" sign, on the right hand side as you drive north along the A9. The route to the broch starts at a gate opposite this car park, and entails a walk of almost a kilometre down a well constructed gravel path. Along the way are sited no fewer than five interpretation panels—all different—which detail the broch itself as well as the geology, history and archaeology of the area.

Read more about the project in this John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier report from December 2020.

Leitir Fura (Promontory Fort) — Fieldnotes

Visited: May 25, 2021

Five miles south of Broadford, on the A851 road to Armadale, is the Forestry Commission's Leitir Fura woodland (signed from the roadside), which provides an enjoyable two mile walk to the ruins of a township that was deserted in the early 18th century. On the coast, due south of the township and about 200 metres west of Rubha Guail on the Sound of Sleat—flanked by shingle beaches—stands a rugged headland atop which can be found the remains of Leitir Fura Promontory Fort. To reach the fort, start from the car park close to Kinloch Lodge (blue marker on the map below) and follow the path marked "Leitir Fura Historic Township". The path is circular so you have two options, the low path which is flanked by woodland all the way (white line on map) or the upper path (yellow line), signed "Drover's Path", which climbs above the tree-line and gives superb vistas across the Sound of Sleat to Glenelg and Knoydart. Either way, you end up at the Township (green marker).

Immediately south of the zig-zag path that leads down from the township is a large cleared turning area for Forestry vehicles. It is from here that you make the push for the fort. The terrain I crossed commenced with a thickly vegetated area of bracken and brambles which leads to birch woodland towards the right: in summer, reinforcments of bracken render the way all but impenetrable! Since the fort cannot be seen from here, a compass is a useful aid to reaching the fort (red marker), which stands due south of the turning area.

The going was hard until I came across a rough path at half distance, which eased my route to the trees. Once amongst the trees the walking is easy. Bear right through the woodland until you reach a stream (the Allt Achadh an t-Sabhail), and cross it. Although the terrain here slopes easily down to the coast (which is easily accessed), you will soon see the formidable vertical cliffs of the Promontory ahead. Carry on till you reach the neck of the promontory, by which time you will see the northeast wall of Leitir Fura Fort on the cliff top ahead. The promontory is choked by rampant birch scrub so a direct ascent is not possible, but I found I could outflank this by keeping close to the cliff edge.

An easy alrernative is to make your way down to the shingle beach northeast of the fort from where there is an easy rising path to the summit that follows close to the cliffs.

Of the fort itself, little remains apart from a significant stretch of slightly curving wall face on its northwest. The wall is well built, measures three metres in width by two metres in height and rises to six or seven courses. And that's about all there is of note. Canmore states that: "At the E end of this terrace, a massively constructed entrance can be seen, measuring about 2m in width by 3.7m in length and approached by ramp leading up from the beach on the NE and providing the only easy access to the top of the promontory".

Although I easily found my way up the "ramp leading up from the beach", I saw no evidence of the "massively constructed entrance". Maybe I'll return another day and check this out!

Possible easier route
After leaving the fort and returning to the car park by the lower path, I noted, just a few metres along, a rough track entering the woodland and apparently following the aforementioned stream. If it is possible to follow the stream from this point, you would have to cover relatively easy wooded terrain all the way to the fort. I may investigate in future.

Leitir Fura (Promontory Fort) — Images

<b>Leitir Fura</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Leitir Fura</b>Posted by LesHamilton
Showing 1-50 of 1,856 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
A keen hillwalker most of my life, my interest was restricted when the need arose to care for an ageing parent.

With limited opportunities to travel far from home, I 'discovered' the world of stone circles, mainly in my native Aberdeenshire.

This provided the ideal opportunity for short walks of just a few hours duration, and resulted in me visiting many places of interest that I had never considered previously.

Stone Circles of NE Scotland
Here you will find both Google and Bing maps displaying more than 100 sites of stone circles, the majority in my native Aberdeenshire. The markers on the maps are clickable, to reveal a photo of the stone circle and a link to their Canmore Site Record.

A menu at the side of the maps allows you to zoom in to any individual circle, viewing its environs as a zoomable aerial photograph (Google) or an OS Map (Bing).

I've since extended my interest to the megalithic remains in The Netherlands, where there are some magnificent passage graves known as hunebedden (giant's beds). Despite the fact that The Netherlands is essentially flat and sandy, these 5000 year old monuments from the Funnel Beaker Culture are often found in exquisite woodland settings, nearly all of them in the province of Drenthe. There are almost limitless opportunities for delightful walks between small villages, taking in a diversion to a hunebed here and there.

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