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Pottering around Pickering

Day oneWhere next?
With my little boy Callan away with his mum for the August bank holiday weekend, I had earmarked Monday for boring household stuff. But that left me with 2 full days of 'freedom' and I was 'casting around' for somewhere a bit different to go.

This summer's really spoilt me, you see! With no childcare ties on alternate weekends and blessed with good weather, I've done more megaraking than I dared dream. But this left me in somewhat of a quandary, having already made multiple visits to my usual daytrip stomping grounds - the Yorks Dales, Derby Dales and Cumbria.

Speculative glances at the road atlas confirmed that Northumbria is a bit far, even for me, but as my eyes tracked south they flicked across the North York Moors.... I had my answer!! A not-too-distant area where I knew there were lots of things I wanted to see but that I had 'neglected' in the past.

Simon sez "It's a cairn (or 2)"
Saturday 23 August 2003
On my lonesome for today's trip, my usual companion Ginger John opting out due to morbid fear of Bank Holiday weekend traffic, I had checked out a couple of interesting looking places on TMA the night before.

My first target was Simon Howe, having been captivated by Fitzcoraldo and Moggymiaow's posts on TMA. (I've got a bit of a 'thing' for cairn kerbs you see....)

Avoiding all the most major Scarborough routes and the Leeds festival traffic, I zipped up to Thirsk and along to Pickering. Taking 'backstreets' to by-pass the main road at Pickering I had a remarkably traffic-free run. (Ha, that'll teach you to be such a wuss John!)

Heading North on the A169, I had it vaguely in mind that on my way back I might stop off to revisit Blakey Topping. Not least because, despite repeated attempts, I've been unable to find the photos from my previous visit a few years ago.

So past the Hole of Horcum and therefore Blakey Topping, I was soon keeping my eyes peeled for the nearest landmark to where I needed to park - a sharp bend, in a valley and crossing Eller Beck Bridge.

Luckily I spotted it early and was able to pull into a wide grassy lane on the left at SE857982. It's not very driveable(!) but there's plenty of room for parking before it narrows to a track and then to paths.

See Simon Howe fieldnotes below.

Returning to the car I was well-pleased with the day so far and headed off towards Goathland, intending to stop off for a glance at a couple of tumuli. So I stopped and headed for the tumuli at approximately SE835997 on the moor opposite Thornhill Farm.

Couldn't see anything unless they are actually particularly unremarkable natural hill-type tumuli. I was a bit surprised because I thought I'd spotted them from Simon Howe - in the far distance.

Pleasant bit of moor though! On then, to Goathland.

So Howe many are there?
The cunningly named Two Howes are near Goathland and you can park safely (esp when there're lots of tourists about) on the edge of the road at around SE825108.

All the tourists wander off towards Goathland, with the occasional hiker heading off across the moors. The very edge of the moor here is a veritable network of paths, but within about 20 yards they start to define themselves better.

The one heading to the Two Howes starts off straight up onto the moor, past a 'garden-type' bench overlooking the edge of the moor, but you need an OS map really. Landranger'll do fine though.

See Two Howes fieldnotes below.

Back at the car I decided that rather than head back to Blakey Topping, I'd press on with seeing 'new' stuff while here. Maybe tomorrow for Blakey!

Howling mad
Heading west from Goathland, a modern standing stone marks the left turn to Hunt House. I parked at the point where a small lane 'dog-leg's back to the right, downhill towards the remains of the R*man road. This is also the point where the road proclaims itself private.

See Howl Moor Stone Circle fieldnotes below.

On my return to where I'd parked there was a family sat in their car looking confused. They asked the way to the R*man road, so I pointed them the right way and gave them my tiny photocopy of the relevant part of the Explorer map - it'd done its job for me after all. Also told 'em the prehistoric remains up on the moor were far more interesting...!

All of the sites covered so far could be walked between very pleasantly by the way. I just didn't have time!

Wheel(y)dale weird
Not wishing to go back the way I'd come - a bit of an obsession with me, and in a vague attempt to avoid going through Pickering, I bombed off to the west when I reached the Goathland road.

After a couple of stops to check maps (no navigator) I realised it'd probably been a bad idea, but I might as well press on now. I hit the (very) minor road heading south across what turned out to be Wheeldale Moor and gathered speed as the road straightened across the moor.

But almost immediately a familiar sight at the side of the road ahead pulled me up sharply. It was a tall standing stone with a small rectangular hole cut near the top. I'd seen it on TMA the night before, but hadn't thought I'd be able to see it and its brethren!!!

See Wheeldale Stones fieldnotes below.

With time getting on I eventually reached the A170 west of Pickering, headed for Thirsk, the A1 and home.

Day twoRuddy hell (or heaven?)
Sunday 24 August 2003
Having conquered his fear of traffic Jams, Ginger John joined me for my second day oop north.

Ironically we actually 'sailed' a lot 'closer to the wind' than I had the day before by heading for Rudston... thereby risking Bank Holiday traffic for Brid(lington) as well as Scarborough!

We did however 'box a bit clever' by avoiding going anywhere near York, going east beyond Selby before turning north. It was a bit of a long way round, but we had no traffic problems to speak of, so we counted it a success.

Arriving at Rudston, the church was clearly visible and we made a beeline straight there. The tallest monolith in Britain I've read....

See Rudston Monolith fieldnotes below.

Leaving Rudston, we briefly contemplated a detour to Duggleby Howe but John had never been to Blakey Topping, so we made that the priority.

Mmmm, vanilla (Blakey) Topping
Parking at the generous car park opposite the Hole of Horcum, for Blakey Topping you just have to go the opposite way to everyone else!

The hordes run the gauntlet to cross the busy and fast A169 to get a better look at the 'big hole' on the west side. The lane to Blakey Topping is handily on the same side of the road as the car park - the east, not the west as stated in (at least early editions of) TMA.

See Blakey Topping fieldnotes below.

It was approaching 4pm as we returned to the car and we pondered our next port of call. But it wasn't long until we succumbed to the temptation to try to beat the holiday traffic and to return to Leeds and home.

We even resisted going for a pint! Whatever next?

Simon Howe — Images

<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by Moth

Simon Howe — Fieldnotes

Access a fairly long and 'reasonably' strenuous walk on a generally decentish path, but with stiles, streams and gullies to cross, as well as the North Yorks Steam Railway track…. Moor could be boggy pretty easily too.

Saturday 23 August 2003
This is my kind of place. A picturesque and longish walk from the nearest road, the cairn(s) of Simon Howe were always likely to be popular with me! And when you get there, a beautifully ruined cairn, another (rather underwhelming) cairn, and to add definite icing to the cake, a 4 stone row….

Heading North on the A169, past the Hole of Horcum look out for a sharpish lefthand bend in a valley, crossing Eller Beck Bridge.

Luckily I spotted it early and was able to pull into a wide grassy lane on the left at SE857982. It's not very driveable(!) but there's plenty of room for parking before it narrows to a track and then to paths.

I walked up the lane for a very short distance and went straight on along a narrower but clear path as the lane bent left. This path soon bears right into a little valley, crossing a tiny muddy bit of low land with a stile. There may even be a stream at time.

Just past this point is the North Yorks Moors Steam Railway track. Keep an eye and ear open – you just might be lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to see a train pass. I did – and rather nice it was too.

I simply kept faith and followed this obvious path for a couple of miles across the moor until it reached the cairn. If you use the Landranger map, note that you do NOT have to leave this path to reach Simon Howe.

I really am developing a bit of a fetish for cairn kerbs, kerb-cairns and cairn circles! This ruined cairn certainly has what remains of a beautiful kerb!

Decent sized stones eased back from the perpendicular, leaning outwards at the top. A bit crown or crown of thorns-like – in this respect reminding me very slightly of my beloved Bryn Cader Faner.

Just to the NNW are the remains of a low flattened cairn with one stone stood at its edge. Looks like a remaining kerbstone to me. And between the cairns lies the 4 stone row!!! Two stones are fallen and one of the stones that remains standing is at a crazy angle.

And what a commanding position! To the north it is reasonably easy to make out the silhouettes of the Two Howes and to the west is Howl Moor.

For me Simon Howe has it all – the 'journey' the 'monument' and the setting. I loved it. (Didn't even mind the grouse butt!)

Two Howes — Images

<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth<b>Two Howes</b>Posted by Moth

Two Howes — Fieldnotes

Access a fairly long and 'fairly' strenuous walk on a generally decentish path. No stiles gates etc. Moor could be boggy pretty easily.

Saturday 23 August 2003
Near Goathland, you can park safely on the edge of the road at around SE825108. The very edge of the moor here is a veritable network of paths, but within about 20 yards they start to define themselves better.

The one heading to the Two Howes starts off straight up onto the moor, past a 'garden-type' bench overlooking the edge of the moor, but you need an OS map really. Landranger'll do fine though.

The path bears right towards a small tarn, and then left up further onto the moor. Soon you can see the mounds of the Two Howes, with their modern 'piles of stones'-type cairns on top.

Really nice examples of (almost) complete cairns, though rather eroded – not least by people walking up onto the tops 'for a look'….

Simon Howe and the 'trig' point next to the neighbouring ruined cairn are clearly visible to the south. Goathland looks very attractive some distance away, nestling in the valley more or less north of the Two Howes. The site also overlooks Howl Moor.

Howl Moor — Images

<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>Howl Moor</b>Posted by Moth

Howl Moor — Fieldnotes

Access a bit of a walk involving a climb some would certainly find strenuous. Starts on a metalled lane and continues on pretty good paths, but going can be a little rough. No stiles gates etc but the bit where you crest the crags onto the moor could be difficult for some people. Moor could be boggy pretty easily.

Saturday 23 August 2003
Heading west from Goathland, a modern standing stone marks the left turn to Hunt House. I parked at the point where a small lane 'dog-leg's back to the right, downhill towards the remains of the R*man road. This is also the point where the road proclaims itself private.

The lane leads down to Hunt House farm itself, then crossing a stream it bears right, uphill. Just as the track starts to level out to head for Wheeldale Lodge there is a fairly visible left fork that heads obliquely up the hill through the bracken and past some of the lower outcrops.

As it reaches the crags, there is a path to the left up onto the moor. Once onto the moor, from this path the plethora of fascinating stones are to the left, but they'll be pretty obvious from just about anywhere on Howl Moor itself! There are loads of 'em.

The bit that moggymiaow singled out on this website is certainly the clearest 'something' that I could see. And it certainly includes the most distinctly 'standing' stone.

Not absolutely sure it's a stone circle though myself. Don't get me wrong – it could be, though as 2 concentric circles I'm even less sure! What it is though is absolutely and definitely something!!!!

One of the reasons I'm a little sceptical about the circle is the sheer number of stones on the moor that look as if they've been 'set' by man (on edge, or on end) rather than just being erratics or outcrops or quarry spoil or whatever.

I didn't count em but I reckon there must have been at least 20 – all scattered over this part of the moor – far too many for chance to have left standing on edge or on end.

And several of these 'set' stones can be traced into circular patterns with other stones, and there are often vague hints of slight embankment. And though I know a lot of stone circles are embanked, this could be a real 'giveaway' considering the proliferation of cairns in the area. (Both Simon Howe and Two Howes can be seen on the horizon.)

So I reckon it's the remnants of a decent sized and very cool cairn cemetery. But what do I know? Go and see what you think! It's a nice walk if nowt else!

The Wheeldale Stones — Images

<b>The Wheeldale Stones</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Wheeldale Stones</b>Posted by Moth

The Wheeldale Stones — Fieldnotes

Access right next to road. No walk etc.

Saturday 23 August 2003
Very odd. Approaching from the north, the first 2 stones I saw were ones with the holes in. As I'd thought when I noticed them on TMA the night before, they looked about as prehistoric as my 2 year old boy!!!

The tooling is much too noticeable, too angular and just, well, too for anything pre-iron age, surely?

They and a couple of the others did though, put me in mind of Long Tom on Fyfield Down near Avebury, which Julian refers to in the big papery TMA as an iron age waymarker.

And at least one other looks like it could be the real thing!

All that said, surely there's no doubt what their function is nowadays? They've got to be waymarkers for the road when snowed under! (And so, in my opinion, whatever their age they're unlikely to be in their original positions.)

No idea what the holes are for.

Rudston Monolith — Images

<b>Rudston Monolith</b>Posted by Moth<b>Rudston Monolith</b>Posted by Moth<b>Rudston Monolith</b>Posted by Moth<b>Rudston Monolith</b>Posted by Moth

Leys of Marlee — Images

<b>Leys of Marlee</b>Posted by Chris


Callanish via Perthshire with surprise guest stones – Part 4

The Isle of LewisAs you may know, I’ve decided to break the account of my trip into instalments to make it more ‘readable’. Part 1 is here.

Moth & John Hit the Road
Friday 2 May 2003
It was finally time to leave Killin and head for the Hebrides, so after a quick breakfast we left the B&B for the final time. Although pleasant enough, I wouldn't choose it again. Keeping a straight face in front of mein host was just too difficult.

We had decided to call at Fort William for provisions (whisky) and lunch before heading up the banks of Loch Lochy and Loch Ness towards Inverness, stopping off at Corrimony Chambered Cairn, which John had not visited before.

The plan was to then 'cut the corner' avoiding Inverness itself, but joining the A835 to Ullapool near Dingwall. Friday night would be in Ullapool.

Who cairns about the rain?
After a leisurely stop in Fort William we took the picturesque (which road in this part of Scotland isn't) A82 towards Inverness. Just as we turned onto the A831 to divert to Corrimony, however, the rain started.

As we pulled up on the lane alongside the well-signposted cairn, the rain was at its worst. Spotting a standing stone on the map, further along the lane, we decided to go for a look. Perhaps by the time we wanted to get out of the car the rain would've stopped.

Or perhaps not. Reaching the Mony Stone at NH372301 we jumped out of the car, I snapped a shot and John squinted for a moment…and we jumped straight back in!

Back to Corrimony and I have to confess I stayed in the car and recalled a visit in more hospitable weather….

See Corrimony fieldnotes below.

Splashing our way back to the A831 we headed back towards Loch Ness, but turned north on the A833 just before Milton. The rain stopped.

Halting the car three quarters of a mile or so up this hill, we were pretty sure we could see the chambered cairn at NH495315 near Balnagrantach. It was on the other side of the sharply dipping valley, which seemed to have a pretty fast-moving stream or river in it. It would have taken too long to reach and was too far away to photograph.

The rest of the journey to Ullapool contained no more visits to stones (other than glancing at interesting-looking bits of rock as we crossed moorland). We did have a pleasant brief stop at the picturesque Falls of Measach next to the road not far from journey's end.

Checked into our pleasant but cheap B&B, then headed for the Ferry Boat Inn….

Saturday 3 May 2003
We caught the comfortably mid-morning ferry for an uneventful crossing to Stornoway. We resisted the temptation to zip straight off to 'that place' and instead made ourselves known at our B&B on the edge of Stornoway.

Luckily, with John's basic knowledge of Stornoway this didn't waste long (pleasant enough B&B) and we were soon flashing along the A858 towards 'that place'….

I'm sure I read something where the writer described the landscape of a lot of Lewis as like a 'moonscape' or something like that (don't THINK it was Julian).

Even as someone reasonably well-travelled in the more remote parts of Britain, it IS difficult to deny that there is something particularly desolate and maybe even alien about much of the lower-lying land in particular.

As you travel from Stornoway to Calanais, there are small lochs and networks of channels & inlets everywhere you look. Not sure about the moon thing though. It'd have to be a very wet, green and peat-boggy moon with some reasonably big hills….

By now I was lost inside my own head as the miles fell away and I finally approached 'that place'. John pointed out Achmore where there was a circle he hadn't yet seen, but I barely heard. I think he also pointed out 'Sleeping Beauty' for the first time. I'm genuinely not sure.

I was aware that approaching from this direction we'd actually pass Cnoc Fhillibhir Bheag and Cnoc Ceann a' Ghàrraidh. I was still contemplating whether driving straight past them was the right approach and was starting to feel that a logical geographical progression might be better. But suddenly it was too late.

There, more or less right in front of me on the horizon were the distant Callanish stones. We'd not passed the others yet, but any choice I'd had was removed. We went straight to Callanish.

The wrong (?) approach
I can't remember whether I read before the visit or not that it is supposedly better not to approach from the visitors' centre, but to use the old lane from the east that bends round the northern side of the stones.

It'd be the sort of thing I'd usually take to heart, but I was so off-kilter with expectation that all I was able to do was follow John's instruction and drive into the car park at the visitors' centre. Still don't know if it made a difference.

See Callanish fieldnotes below.

Philippa Veg & Keane an' Gary – nice neighbours
Having taken our fill for the moment, we jumped in the car for the short journey to park near Cnoc Fhillibhir Bheag for my first visit and John's first of this trip. From there we'd also make the short walk to Cnoc Ceann a' Ghàrraidh. We could do the whole walk from Callanish itself tomorrow. (Shamefully we never did….)

See Cnoc Fhillibhir Bheag and Cnoc Ceann a' Ghàrraidh fieldnotes below.

Deep in the peat
After an hour or so we were back in the car heading for Ceann Thulabhaig just another couple of miles away to the south, next to the B8011.

On the east side of the road I think there is plenty of room to park, right opposite the path to the west giving access to the peat in which the circle stands.

See Ceann Thulabhaig fieldnotes below.

Back at the car we noted the various other points of interest nearby for the future, including Cnoc Dubh (possible circle), Airigh nam Bidearan (standing stones) and Druim nam Bideraan.

Leaving already?
So, on to the final site of our first half day in the Hebrides – which involved crossing the 'Atlantic' (by bridge over a tiny channel thereof!) to the small island of Great Bernera, and the standing stones of Cleitir or Bernera Bridge Circle.

See Cleitir fieldnotes below.

Back over the bridge and dropping the car off at the B&B, we walked the mile or so into Stornoway for a pint or 2 and a curry, followed by a pint or 2. Back at the B&B we agreed on Sunday's agenda and treated ourselves to a wee dram (or 2). A good end to the first day on Lewis.

Part 5 (the final instalment) will follow soon.

Corrimony — Images

<b>Corrimony</b>Posted by Moth

Mony's Stone — Images

<b>Mony's Stone</b>Posted by Moth

Corrimony — Fieldnotes

Friday 2 May 2003
A clava cairn in a beautiful and peaceful setting next to a small stream (or was that just the rain?) not far from a small river.

If you've seen Clava Cairns, this is another one – on it's own. If you haven't, it's a chambered cairn with a stone circle round it (11 stones?).

The top of the cairn including the capstone(s) is missing, but most of the chamber sides and rubble construction is in place.

Very nice.

(Nearby is the Mony Stone standing stone at NH372301.)

Callanish — Images

<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth<b>Callanish</b>Posted by Moth

Callanish — Fieldnotes

Saturday 3 May 2003
Well, where do I start? Probably like many people, with my expectations.

There is an element almost of confession here. This is one reason it has taken me nearly 2 months to write this. It's now getting on for 4 months since I was actually there.

If you've reached here via my weblogs, you'll know that this was a very special trip for me. Not only had I been longing to see the place for many years, but turmoil in my personal life had added an extra, emotional 'charge' that is unusual for me when visiting a site. And it lived up to every expectation. Eventually.

Right up until I turned the corner on the path from the visitors' centre and saw the stones from anything other than a distance, everything was fine and my expectations were undented.

So, I turned the corner, and… I really can't say whether it was the view approaching from that direction, or whether it was sheer weight of expectation, but I knew straight away… To my total astonishment, I just didn't 'get' it.

All those years. All those miles… and I was just looking at some more rocks. A lot of rocks. A lot of beautiful rocks. But still 'just' a lot of rocks.

I was quietly mortified. I couldn't even blame crowds – we saw maybe 3 people in the hour or so we spent there before I was happy (almost relieved) to go to Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag and Cnoc Ceann a' Ghàrraidh.

Of course the setting is beautiful. Of course the place is spectacular. Of course the sheer number and sizes of the stones are massively impressive. Of course the stones are intriguing shapes and colours and textures.

But there was no feeling of inspiration or even reverence that I have felt at a few very special sites. No feeling of 'homecoming' or perhaps 'belonging' that I have felt at some sites. No real connection, no real understanding.

Sunday 4 May 2003
On my second visit, the following day, it began to dawn on me however – expectation and understanding were the whole problem for me. Before visiting most sites I read a little bit about them in fairly 'analytical' Burl (usually) type terms – maybe read a few comments on this website or in the big papery TMA.

With this limited preparation I don't expect to understand them or connect with them. It's just not normally an issue. If I do – great. If I don't – I'll have enjoyed seeing them anyway.

With Callanish though, there was a whole lot more – an entire chapter in Julian's book. Various telly progs including Julian's. And more recently, a couple of other books. I approached the place thinking (subconsciously) that I understood – that I knew what to expect. So when I didn't I was confused, disappointed and bewildered.

This feeling of realisation increased steadily and luckily it was convenient to revisit regularly over the 3 days and I was able to discover Callanish as I actually see it – not as I expected to see it.

Seeing it with too many expectations was, for me like photos of the complete Callanish I from ground level. They never quite really show it. I've seen great pictures of it – there are some good ones on this site and I took some that I'm pleased with, but they still never quite do it.

It's one of those places where I cannot see how a photographer can capture the full picture. The complexity and sheer number of stones makes it seem confusing in photos, yet makes perfect sense as you walk it on the ground.

Monday 5 May 2003
By my fourth and final visit (for now) I was happy. Right now at 11pm on Monday 18 August 2003, I could happily stand between the northern rows facing the circle and laugh and shout for joy. It's awesome. Not a word I normally use. Ever.

Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag — Images

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Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag — Fieldnotes

Saturday 3 May 2003
Easily visible from the A858 on the left approaching Calanais from Stornoway – just before a cattlegrid. Soon dubbed 'Philippa'(!) for convenience I'm afraid.

What a place. I first visited before I got my feelings for Callanish itself sorted out. This was no bad thing, as it allowed complete appreciation of this stunning circle and its 'special features' – see a23's fieldnotes for superbly expressed details!

To me, as well as the fascinating 'phallus & triple goddess' and 'Sleeping Beauty' phenomena, the most striking thing was how beautifully proportioned the circle, its stones and its setting in the landscape are. To me it also felt particularly 'open' and welcoming.

Julian comments in the big papery TMA that Callanish itself can easily overshadow the nearby sites. (I don't like calling them 'satellite' sites or any term that could belittle these wonderful places.) And he's probably right. But that's just a crying shame.

Yet to me, at Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag, Callanish does not truly dominate. It's higher up, bigger and 'more fancy', true, but 'Philippa' is also raised well above the land between herself and Callanish, with the remains of Cnoc Ceann a' Ghàrraidh lurking significantly more or less between the 2, on the low-lying moorland that separates them.

For me, the relationship between the 3 is intriguing.

Noteable is that like the other main 'Callanish' sites, there is a nearby 'low-key' equivalent of Callanish's Cnoc an Tursa. There is also a very significant looking 'v'-shaped gap in the hills looking south (in the centre of this picture).

Visited briefly again on Sunday 4 May, mainly to take more photos. Still in love with the place.

Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh — Images

<b>Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh</b>Posted by Moth

Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh — Fieldnotes

Saturday 3 May 2003
Known by us as 'Gary'(!!) I'm afraid. Easily visible between Callanish and Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag ('Philippa'). Best approached from 'Philippa' (Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag) or via a lane from the main road at NB222330.

Another stunner! It's something I know all us 'stones' people think from time-to-time, but I'm going to say it here – please forgive me: "I'd love to have seen this circle when it was complete".

Rarely have I felt it so strongly, almost desperately. This must have been an incredible place, lying between 2 other incredible places (Callanish itself and Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag).

Nowadays the remains of the circle are reduced, for more casual viewers at least, to a 'side attraction' and are undeniably overshadowed by both these other sites. Yet much more than a trace of majesty remains in these strikingly-shaped stones that still stand, and my feeling is that it was once not so easily dominated.

Nearby is a small outcrop, in common with the other 'main' Callanish sites, echoing the Cnoc an Tursa at Callanish itself.

Ceann Hulavig — Images

<b>Ceann Hulavig</b>Posted by Moth<b>Ceann Hulavig</b>Posted by Moth

Ceann Hulavig — Fieldnotes

Saturday 3 May 2003
This is a short drive from Calanais, along the B8011. The circle is visible to the west of the road after about a mile. Plenty of room to park on the verge on the opposite side of the road I think.

The stones stand out uphill from the road and can now be reached by a well looked-after path, newly refurbished when we visited.

Despite being uphill from the road, Ceann Thulabhaig still manages to nestle below the actual hilltop, but commands a wonderful view towards an inlet that lies directly between it and Callanish.

The hilltop once more features a 'low-key' equivalent of Cnoc an Tursa.

The stones are real big bouncing beauties, and it is interesting to see much more clearly than at the other 'big' sites where the peat has been cut away to expose more of the stones.

Another quite welcoming circle, to me, but I suspect it would change to be quite, wild, dramatic and even forbidding in bad weather (whereas, for example Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag would 'just' be inhospitable in bad weather – if you see what I mean).

And it is certainly an excellent place to have a breather in peace and to take stock of your day, week, month, year, life!

Bernera Bridge Circle — Images

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Bernera Bridge Circle — Fieldnotes

Saturday 3 May 2003
The stones are on the left as you arrive on the Bernera side of the bridge from Lewis.

Well, if Margaret and Ron Curtis reckon it's a circle then I guess it is, but it didn't feel like one to me!

I suppose it's because a substantial part of the circle has fallen to the sea and, even more importantly for visualisation of the original site, any embankment has fallen too.

But who cares when it's in such a beautiful spot and features such beautiful and imposng stones anyway. Well, me actually – it'd be mind-boggling!

I didn't have a go on the birthing stone….


More Moth meanderings (starring the Squid family)

Wednesday 20 August 2003
Langstrothdale liaison
Day off work to help introduce fellow Head Heritager, Squid Tempest, and the Squid family, to the delights of stones in the Yorkshire dales.

Time was limited slightly by the fact that the Squid family and I were approaching the relevant area from opposite directions. Also, understandably given that he was on holiday and recovering from a nasty stomach 'bug' El Squiddo wasn't 'up for' a crack of dawn start….

This in mind, I arranged to meet the Squids at noon in the George at Hubberholme near Buckden – one of my favourite Dales hostelries and near Yockenthwaite cairn circle.

Deviation at Dumpit
Rejoicing in my freedom from the shackles of work, I headed off from home at 9am, to grasp the opportunity to attempt to find the Dumpit Hill stone circle near Hebden – reasonably neatly on the way to Hubberholme.

I stopped at SE032631 on the B6265 to the east of Hebden and parked at the bottom of a farm lane leading north. As I stepped from the car the day was cloudy but looking promising for later

The lane was fairly steep but reasonably comfortable walking, passing close to High Dene, on to Edge House then to Scar Top House farm. The finest spray of rain kept me cool without wetting me too much.

Scar Top House farm and the circle are just under a mile up the lane at a guess, though the gradient makes it seem further (on the way up at least)!

Dumpit Hill — Images

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Dumpit Hill — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
For finding the circle, I strongly recommend the OS Explorer 1:25,000 map. Even with this map I found the point where the footpath and farm track split a little disorientating.

This point is particularly important, as the circle is on the moorland directly to the east of the footpath – the opposite side to the farm. In fact, as the Explorer map shows, the circle is directly in line with a farm wall at right angles to the path.

This wall is the one that links the farm lane as it leads slightly downhill towards the farm and the fieldwall that the runs northwards alongside the left (west) of the path.

If you stand on the path at the corner of these 2 walls, facing ENE, imagine where the wall that descends the short distance to the farm lane would go if it continued across the path to the ENE.

Follow that line by sighting on the hillside in front (still ENE) and after around 100-150 yards I guess, you should see the indistinct and low-lying circle stones.

Beware, however! As I found to my cost, should you go too far or wander slightly off course through the heather, you will find that the whole moor is a Pandora's Box of intriguingly laid out erratics!!! I spent a good half an hour and half a film finding and photographing what I call 'Isthatit' rocks….

Eventually with time running short, I returned to the fieldwall, reset myself, concentrated hard on keeping straight and walked directly to the circle, which is pretty unmistakable once you find it. (Aren't they always!)

All that remains of the circle is 4 or 5 low stones just visible through thick heather. At least 2 of the stones are easily identifiable though by the fact that they are distinctly set on end with their faces facing the inside of the circle.

The area of the circle is also on a slight embankment, visible at the moment by the fact the heather is even higher!!!! (Just marginally.)

Clear the heather and you'd probably have the remains of a nice little, typically understated, Yorkshire circle – quite like the Appletreewick stone circle – my former bête noir – see my notes on the relevant page…!

Like Appletreewick, it includes one large boulder that looks as if it could be naturally occurring and used as part of the circle....

A merry meeting!
Having floundered for a fair while before finally locating the circle, I was running late for my rendezvous. But a mixture of good fortune with traffic and knowledge of the roads (and a heavy accelerator foot) meant that I arrived at the pub 5 minutes ahead of the punctual family Squid.

A pint of Black Sheep Special and a pleasant lunch in great company later, I was back in the car leading my companions the short distance along the road to Yockenthwaite farm and the short but pleasant walk to Yockenthwaite cairn circle.

My luck with traffic seemed to have deserted me, however, and we were forced to crawl along behind a trio of tractors pulling unfeasibly large trailers unfeasibly slowly….

As I visited this site only 10 days before and included fieldnotes in my A dash round the dales weblog, I'll not say much here. I will comment that for once though, someone else seemed to know the circle was there, as a woman and (probably) her young grandson stopped to look and take photos.

The Druid's Altar
Next up was what seems to be rapidly becoming my 'pet' site – the Druid's Altar near Threshfield – though I've never written about it before. So we headed back through Hubberholme to Buckden, joining the B6160 south and following it to Threshfield.

Druid's Altar — Images

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Druid's Altar — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
*Remember that the circle is marked as a cairn on both the Landranger and Explorer OS maps, but that such luminaries as Aubrey Burl regard it as a stone circle.*

Just at the north end of Threshfield we took the small (initially residential) 'Skirethorns Lane' to the west from the B6160, signposted to Wood Nook caravan site.

You can follow this lane well past the caravan site right onto the tops. It is increasingly narrow and in places steep, so take care! Park when you reach the first gate barring the lane – after perhaps as much as 3 miles. Or if you have time, park lower down and enjoy the walk!

From the small area where you can park just before the gate across the lane, the circle is visible a few hundred yards away. It is just to the left of the wall that leads off directly west across the moor. The lane itself bears slightly right (north) away from the wall.

The circle is probably fairly unimpressive on first sight, but really seems to grow in stature as you properly take it and its surroundings in. It's not just me either. Everyone I take there seems to feel the same, unprompted!

The stones of the 'errant Scottish 4 poster' stand on a distinct embanked mound, probably around 2 feet above the surrounding field. As has been documented on this website, the SW stone is broken off and lies in the centre of the 'circle'. The stone at the SE has had the mound cleared from its base, but still stands solidly.

Interestingly, the mound extends further out to the south east to reach a large stone that lies recumbent.

Whether this stone was ever anything to do with the circle is unlikely. But the extension of the mound looks to either be the earth removed from the base of the SE stone, or to suggest that the embankment actually originally extended a good 10 feet or more from the circle stones, at least to the south.

The weather was much cooler and the general atmosphere considerably 'wilder' than on my last visit with Jane. (See her fieldnotes).

Still a fantastic spot though!!! The very openness of the land really shows how visible even such a diminutive circle would've been for some distance – especially if the drystone walls were absent!

I'd forgotten but Burl relates that the name comes from the legend that 2 of the stones once had a lintel stone, making them form a tiny trilithon. It seems highly unlikely, but is a nice thought to bear in mind when looking at the stones!
After a good half-hour at the circle, the 'Squidlings' were cold and it was time for Squid and Sue to return with them to their base in Ingleton.

Going 'home'
We bade our farewells and I headed off to round out the afternoon with a quick visit to the 12 Apostles of Ilkley Moor. Again, I've never written about this circle before, despite it being probably the nearest (surviving) real circle to where I live.

The traffic on the A65 was starting to build up but I reached the 'White Wells' car park at SE118470 without too much trouble.

<b>The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor</b>Posted by Moth

The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
I always forget how far it is from the White Wells car park at SE118470 to the 12 Apostles. It's the approach I first read about, so it's the approach I still use. I always reckon on about 20 minutes, but it's always more like 35-40 minutes.

I'd certainly recommend an OS map for a first visit, but the 1:50,000 Landranger 104 does fine for finding the circle. If planing to investigate the moor more fully, I'd go for the 1:25,000 Explorer though.

From the car park, follow the metalled lane up the hill to the White Wells building and the toilets.

Follow the clear wide track as it zigzags between the buildings and starts its craggy, dramatic and strenuous ascent onto the moor itself. (I also always forget how steep this part is…. Maybe next time I'll try coming from the Cow and Calf!!)

From here it's more or less 'follow your nose' and the 'straightest' path until reaching a fork at around SE123454. Take the left fork, which briefly descends to ford a small gill.

The path then begins to climb fairly gently but I find that this final section does turn into rather a 'drag'…. Parts of this section are on wooden walkways to cross boggier areas, but these could CERTAINLY use some repairs! Watch your feet!

As you reach the final crest onto pretty much the very top of the moor the circle comes into view, easily visible despite deep heather, on a slight but clear detour from the main path across the moor.

There are 12 stones. Or there were on this day. I've never seen it with more, but I've seen it with fewer!

"How so?" I hear from non-locals. Simply because there are actually 9 stones 'in-situ', but it's rare that some enterprising soul or souls haven't seen fit to add 2 or 3 extras to make up the 12….

Luckily they sensibly don't (fingers-crossed) try to actually dig the impromptu stones in, but just use bits of rock to 'wedge' them upright. (They're usually remarkably appropriate in size and shape too….)

I always forget how much I love this place. It's right on the 'roof' of West Yorkshire and (on a reasonably clear day) commands excellent views for at least 135 degrees.

I also have to say that I find the proportions of the circle remarkably pleasing – the stones averaging around 3-4 feet high with a circle diameter of around 50 feet?

To me it's typical Yorkshire. Down-to-earth and well-used – the paths are very well worn yet I've rarely seen anyone actually at the circle, and impressive without being ostentatious!!!

A wonderful circle to call your 'local'….

By the way, in my edition of Burl, he says 'nearly all' the stones are down. So some restoration has gone on, probably since 1995.
Every time I go there this circle still surprises and delights me. With each new visit it really does feel increasingly like a megalithic 'homecoming'.


A dash round the dales

10 August 2003
Last week I failed to find Appletreewick Stone Circle for the third time, even with the help of our own Jane's uncanny 'rock detection' skills. So, having sought advice from fellow TMAers who had been there, I made it my mission to nail it this time. (Thanks Fitzcoraldo and Iron Man!)

This time it's personal
I collected Ginger John and we headed off to the dales from Leeds. We picked up the B6160 north near Bolton Abbey and then turned right at Barden, onto an unclassified road, before turning left onto the B6265 near Grimwith reservoir.

John reckoned he'd been shown the circle some years ago, but couldn't remember much about it. He came equipped with a brand spanking OS Explorer map of the area (298 I think).

Just as we arrived at the gates at SE060630, the weather turned from overcast to VERY WET, as if the world was telling me it wasn't going to help me find this damned circle. We paused to look at John's 1:25,000 map and I could immediately see where I'd been going wrong!

The first twice I'd tried to find the circle I'd used my trusty Landranger 99. The third time with Jane, I'd printed out what Streetmap claimed to be the 1:25,000. I now realised it wasn't. It was just the 1:50,000 I already had – I HAD noticed the absence of field boundaries, but had assumed there just weren't any in the area.

How could I have been so naïve? Last time I'm too stingy to buy a proper map….

There was the circle on the map, clearly just to the east of a field wall. A field wall I had seen on the ground previously, but had hardly crossed – believing the circle to be to the west of any nearby field boundary…!

After waiting for the rain to abate a little, we entered the field, this time by the gate next to the tiny 'quarry' (more like a small hollowed out area on the hillside) at around SE065629. We picked up the wall running roughly north south along a spur of higher ground and followed it uphill and north.

As we reached the top of the hill, there it was…. At last, Appletreewick Stone Circle – my bête noire!

See Appletreewick fieldnotes below.

A short detour
We headed off past Grassington to rejoin the B6160 at Threshfield, not stopping at the Druid's Altar which we have both visited several times – a week before, to the day in my case. (See Jane's fieldnote on the page for the site.)

As we approached Kettlewell behind slow traffic caused by a couple of vintage Austins, I mentioned to John that I had hoped to show Jane the Yockenthwaite cairn circle the week before but we had not had time.

To my astonishment John said he hadn't been, so at Buckden we forked left to go through Hubberholme and on into Langstrothdale Chase. Yockenthwaite is about 4 miles from Buckden. (The George at Hubberholme is a wonderful hostelry by the way, though we did not stop….)

See Yockenthwaite fieldnotes below.

Fitz's (non-)folly
Next up then, was a trip to my 'favourite' dale, Swaledale, to have a look at a possible stone circle spotted by TMA stalwart Fitzcoraldo.

We reached Wensleydale and headed along to Leyburn. Lesson learned at Appletreewick, I insisted we call at the big newsagents there to grab the 1:25,000 OS map for the Reeth area!! (Explorer OL30).

Leaving Leyburn by the road out of the 'top' of the village, we followed the primarily military road towards Grinton and Reeth, in search of Harkerside Moor Circle.

See Harkerside Moor Circle fieldnotes below, which also include detailed directions.

Castle walls
Having seen the circle and returned to the car, we had a couple of hours to kill. I told John about TMAer Brigantesnation's posts for the enclosure at Castle near Reeth. We had the map, so off we went!

See Castle, Nr Reeth fieldnotes below.

After returning to the car, we sank a leisurely pint at the Bridge Inn at Grinton (another favourite of mine) and then home. A busy weekend complete.

Appletreewick — Images

<b>Appletreewick</b>Posted by Moth<b>Appletreewick</b>Posted by Moth

Appletreewick — Fieldnotes

10 August 2003
Got here at the fourth attempt in about 2 years, having thrashed about within a few yards of the damn thing on every single previous occasion….

Well worth all the trouble it was though! A distinct circle of stones including one pretty big boulder, which looks as if it's possibly in the position where it was found by the ancients, with the other stones placed to make a circle….

This is the 'inner' circle of what is allegedly 2 concentric rings.

The outer ring, however, is so irregular and ruined that I don't think I'd have suspected it if I hadn't known in advance – especially as the whole area is littered with 'random rocks'. John and I spent some time pacing out distances to surrounding rocks and to be honest, remain slightly sceptical.

Ironically, the site did remind me very faintly of the double concentric ring I'd visited the day before, the Druid's Circle of Ulverston. This had more to do with its size and atmosphere than the possibility of a double circle though.

Well, who cares? Single ring or double, the setting overlooking 3 dales is beautifully remote and infinitely calming. It won't be long until I'm back now I know where it is!

Yockenthwaite — Images

<b>Yockenthwaite</b>Posted by Moth

Yockenthwaite — Fieldnotes

10 August 2003
I can't believe how unknown this place is, despite being right on the Dales Way alongside the Wharfe. But I'm glad.

And the OS will have helped by seemingly having removed it from the 1:25,000 Explorer – my friend John is sure it was on the previous 1:25,000 of the area! (And I'm sure it's never been on the Landranger.)

The position is beautiful, and having previously visited, I have to say it has a wonderfully open and light atmosphere on a sunny day, but it's worth a visit in any weather!

Being a cairn circle, it's certainly not a stone circle in the 'true' sense, but if you want a picturesque but accessible and peaceful circle of stones to sit and chill at, look no further.

Because of showery weather and time constraints, we parked by the road on the opposite (west) side of the river and leapt and splashed across. But it is vastly preferable to park near Yockenthwaite farm, cross the Wharfe by the bridge and turn left (north west) along the Dales Way for 10 or 15 minutes or so….

Back in the car we watched the 'world' passing the circle by for a while, wondering what the walkers and cyclists would have thought had they known what they were passing….

The circle is easy to spot from the road, but only if you know roughly where to look and what you are looking for.

If you don't have time or inclination to walk from Yockenthwaite, drive west with the river on your right. Keep an eye on the wall separating the river from the fields on the far bank. The circle is right next to a place where the wall has (mysteriously?) tumbled….

Be prepared for damp toes unless you want to spend a goodly amount of time looking for a really dry crossing point!

*Also see weblog More Moth meanderings (starring the squid family).*

Harkerside Moor Circle — Images

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Harkerside Moor Circle — Fieldnotes

10 August 2003
I went up to this one following Fitzcoraldo's comments... and am in WHOLEHEARTED agreement.

Just my opinion, but if this really is what the OS has marked as a hut circle, all I can say is "is it HELL a hut circle "!

We all know the OS are flawed on this sort of thing – stone circles marked as cairns (Druid's Altar to name but one), cairns marked as stone circles, you name it….

I was accompanied by my mate John, a man not easily impressed with 'alleged sites', having like most of us here, seen plenty of stones. He thought it was a stone circle too.

That's 2 more necks out with yours Fitz!

The circle stands on a slight platform and is much wider than any hut circle I've ever seen or heard of. It shows no signs of ever having been even vaguely contiguous, which for me pretty much says it isn't a cairn circle either.

Some of the stones aren't firmly seated and may possibly not be in their proper positions, but some have what looked like very clear packing rubble and stones around them. Looks pretty damn authentic to me.

As well as the impressive 'earthwork' nearby, there are also what we thought looked like a few ruined cairns on the way to the circle.

To find the circle, we approached from Leyburn, heading for Grinton. Descending towards Grinton, we took a left turn signposted (I believe) to Redmire, a short distance after passing Grinton Lodge on the right.

This road goes gently uphill and pretty soon there is a sharpish bend left at approximately SE044974, by a barrier gate onto the moor. We parked here.

A track heads WSW onto the moor. We found that the simplest thing to do was to follow this until it crosses a small stream called Grovebeck Gill just after passing a fence leading off to the right. Cross the stream and leave the path to the right and follow the fence, leading just about north.

You will soon come to a very clear and quite spectacular earthwork ditch and bank. Follow the earthwork left (WNW) and where it peters out, continue straight on, along a projected line from the earthwork.

On the nearest crest almost exactly in front of you should immediately or soon see the outline of some small rocks. That is the circle.

Oh, and by the way, try not to jump out of your skin when the grouse shoot out of the undergrowth! I reckon I lost a good few minutes off my life….

Castle, Nr Reeth — Fieldnotes

10 August 2003
We drove through Reeth up into the bottom of Arkengarthdale and parked around NZ027006, on the verge by the track to Castle Farm. We followed the track down to the river amongst trees (beautiful spot).

Across a bridge, back out into the now blazing sun and up the gentle slope towards the farm buildings.

In the fairly small enclosure to the right of the further farm house (Castle Farm itself according to the map), you can immediately see the 'orthostatic' walls of upright stones that the more modern walls seem to have been built onto – if I understand correctly.

As I know absolutely NOTHING about the subject, I suggest you read Brigantesnation's fieldnotes.

Just to the left (north west) of the farm buildings is a stand of trees, on a bank littered with massive rocks, presumably from field clearance.

At the bottom of the bank where you approach it from the path leading along the valley, is a kind of 'kerb wall', possibly related to the orthostatic walls Brigantesnation talks about, or perhaps just a more modern effort to support the bank. We sat in perfect peace for a good few minutes before the walk (mainly uphill!) back to the car.


A quick tour of Cumbria's 'big ones'

Zipping around
I was just going to do a few fieldnotes for this trip and wasn't going to write a weblog because it's a tour of such well-known sites. But I changed my mind to see if I could help anyone who's planning their first 'zip around' Cumbria to see what's achievable.

I picked up my friend Shirl in Wigan, leaving her place at around 10.30am. She's a 'stomper' rather than a 'stoneser' but was daft enough to show some interest, so I decided to introduce her to the subject with a quick spin round the 'Hollywood sites' of Cumbria.

The plan was Long Meg, Little Meg, Castlerigg, Blakeley Raise, maybe Greycroft, Sunkenkirk (Swinside) and the Druid's Circle of Ulverston (in Lancashire according to Aubrey Burl…?).

Of these, Sunkenkirk and Greycroft are the only ones with any walk over around 100 yards and Greycroft is only a quarter of a mile (half a mile at most).

Even though it's so close to 'the Megs' I didn't include Glassonby despite never having been there – not 'Hollywood' enough. (OK, that's a lie. I forgot about it actually. Idiot!!!)

Traffic on the M6 was a bit crappy to say the least, and once off the motorway just by Penrith I managed to take more wrong turns than you can shake a stick at.

The Real 'Biggies'
We finally turned up at Long Meg and Her Daughters at around 12.45pm moving on to Little Meg around half an hour later….

See Long Meg and Little Meg fieldnotes below.

Returning to the car around 2.30pm, we headed for Keswick and of course Castlerigg. After a journey slightly slowed by daytrip traffic, the relatively small number of cars in the lay-by looked fairly encouraging, considering it was mid-afternoon around 3pm.

As we entered the field and approached the circle though, this proved to have been a false impression. It was HEAVING!!! The gaps between the stones were virtually plugged with tourists and there were crowds inside the circle too. It looked like someone had rounded 'em up and penned 'em there!

See Castlerigg fieldnotes below.

Back to the car and down into Keswick it became apparent that the traffic was picking up again. Time was getting a bit short (3.40pm) due to the delays earlier on so we made 'straight' (not sure that's the right word!) for Sunkenkirk or Swinside. The journey was a little slow due to traffic and we arrived around 4.30pm.

Without the day's traffic delays I'm convinced that we could've reached and spent a while at Blakeley Raise at the very least, possibly Greycroft too.

The Slightly Lesser 'Biggies'
Parking for Sunkenkirk is a little difficult unless willing to be a bit cheeky with the local farms or passing places. Not recommended. Approaching from the south though, if you go past the bottom of the track to Swinside Farm for maybe a quarter of a mile, passing the next farm, you come to a bridge over a small river.

There is a large 'passing place' on the bridge big enough to park one car yet still leave plenty of room for other traffic to use the passing place. Only takes around 5 minutes to walk back to bottom of the track to Swinside farm and the circle.

The walk up to the Sunkenkirk was extremely warm in the hot weather, though it only takes 20 minutes or so at a decent pace. It's usually quite a pleasant stroll and if you have an OS map, there is an obvious circular walk.

See Sunkenkirk fieldnotes below.

Back at the car around 5.45pm, we considered heading straight back to Wigan, but decided that if we did we'd just catch the mass traffic exodus from the Lakes. So we kept the Druid's Circle of Ulverston on the itinerary.

We went via Ulverston itself, approaching south along the A5087, passing numerous be-robed Buddhists and their followers from the Manjushri Mahayana College and Buddhist Centre.

A little past Bardsea I recognised the (unsignposted?) right turn at SD297737, through the trees and up the hillside towards Sunbrick. From a previous visit I knew the circle was on the right as you climb the hill and that it was accessible by a widish grassy track through the thick bracken.

Luckily I also remembered that it was a very short distance from the road so when we tried the wrong paths (twice – oops!) we didn't waste much time!

The correct path is around where the hill starts to level off. It's pretty easy to find, especially with an OS map.

Arriving around 6.30 and staying for a little under half an hour we were glad we came.

See Druid's Circle fieldnotes below.

Traffic back to the M6 wasn't too bad, but the motorway was still fairly busy. And overshooting Wigan was a nightmare – but there're no stones in that story….

Long Meg & Her Daughters — Images

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

Long Meg & Her Daughters — Fieldnotes

9 August 2003
This was only the second time I've been to Long Meg, though it has to be said that there aren't many sites I've been to more than once – there're too many 'new' ones to see!

I must admit I'd forgotten just what a high profile site this is and, stupidly, I was a bit shocked, for a moment at least, to see other people there!

Luckily of course the circle is more than big enough to swallow up a few sets of visitors without it being a problem. It helped that all the visitors that came and went while we were there looked very interested in the stones and the site rather than just wandering around in the disinterested way you sometimes see.

This is such a beautiful site, despite the metalled farm road through it. I can't imagine ever becoming used to its sheer size and general impressiveness. I got exactly the same feeling as my other visit, around 8 years ago – it seems a particularly peaceful spot.

No, that's not right Little Meg is peaceful, Long Meg is… calm, if you see the difference. I know what I mean.

Tombo's 'zen cows' were still in evidence.

Little Meg — Images

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

Little Meg — Fieldnotes

9 August 2003
I'd never visited Little Meg before, as when I went to Long Meg before (around 8 years ago), I was only just becoming interested in stones. Having only used a road atlas to find Long Meg, I didn't even know Little Meg existed.

Since first reading of Little Meg I've been expecting to visit but had never yet made it. The theory about the origin of the site as a barrow was particularly interesting I thought. We left Long Meg and her Daughters following the hedge away from the circle, to the right of the farm road, roughly north east.

Littlle Meg is in the next field you come to on the right. Go through the (new-looking) gate and keep right, heading towards the edges of 2 separate stand of trees. Even in long grass the stones are evident.

And as for the theories, it certainly doesn't look much like an actual stone circle. Especially not a typical Cumbrian stone circle!!! Pretty difficult to see it as a ruined barrow either though!

As someone has previously remarked, it could easily be taken for field clearance, albeit field clearance made of significant rocks! I guess as it is generally accepted as a ruined barrow, the stones just happen to have ended up in particularly non-barrowy positions!

Whatever, the stones occupy a gorgeously out of the way spot of remarkable peace and tranquillity. And the spirals on the decorated stone really are stunning – and that from someone who doesn't usually 'get' rock art….

Castlerigg — Images

<b>Castlerigg</b>Posted by Moth<b>Castlerigg</b>Posted by Moth

Castlerigg — Fieldnotes

9 August 2003
I'll never get over the setting here. The circle itself is too spectacular and wonderful for words but is still completely overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the surrounding hills.

When we arrived the circle was teeming with people, but luckily, over the half an hour or so we stayed, they gradually dissipated and for the last 10 minutes there were only a few left.

The first time I went I was lucky enough to have the place virtually to myself and I think I've avoided revisiting fearing the crowds…but I found it much less off-putting than I expected.

I'm tempted to wish Castlerigg was harder to get to, but that wouldn't be fair would it? Everyone should see this place. The circle's actually just a (big) bonus…! This is one hell of a special place and I have to admit I'd kind of forgotten that because of its popularity and the crowds. I'll not forget it again.

Sunkenkirk — Images

<b>Sunkenkirk</b>Posted by Moth<b>Sunkenkirk</b>Posted by Moth

Sunkenkirk — Fieldnotes

9 August 2003
Like a lot of people, this place used to remind me a lot of Castlerigg. Until visiting them in quick succession on Saturday that is. Maybe it was because when I first visited Sunkenkirk it had been a good few years since I was at Castlerigg...maybe not.

They're certainly not dissimilar in some ways, but on Saturday I felt I'd been oversimplifying things by drawing such a strong parallel. There's also a definite Rollright parallel in the proximity of the stones to each other.

The setting here is beautiful, but not half as stunning as Castlerigg when put in direct comparison. Even in sunny weather I find Castlerigg's setting awe-inspiring, whereas with all but pretty forbidding conditions Sunkenkirk feels relatively welcoming to me and almost enclosed.

In good weather it would be possible for me to spend hours here, even alone (not something I feel very often), but at Castlerigg in similar conditions I can't imagine spending more than about an hour at the most, leaving aside the irritating stream of people.

The circle itself is undeniably reminiscent of Castlerigg in size and style, but without the well-known internal setting. It does add a couple of external stones marking a probable entrance. Yet to me it seems to nestle in its field and embrace you, while Castlerigg stands bold but dwarfed on its open ground and you never truly feel inside.

Both wonderful places but certainly to me invoking very different feelings and atmospheres. I could happily visit Sunkenkirk every day.

The Druid's Circle of Ulverston — Images

<b>The Druid's Circle of Ulverston</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Druid's Circle of Ulverston</b>Posted by Moth

The Druid's Circle of Ulverston — Fieldnotes

9 August 2003
As we approached the site I was disappointed to see that the haze would mean that the usually beautiful views of Morecambe Bay would not be visible. In fact Bardsea and its church on their raised platform could barely be seen, never mind the bay itself.

The consolation though was that in more or less the opposite direction, the sun was just starting to set and bathing the white stones of the circle in a beautifully subtle (but apparently unphotographable) orange tint. The sky was photogenic though!

This visit confirmed that this is a lovely site and a perfect peaceful and picturesque end to the tour. I can't agree that it doesn't seem genuine and if it has been restored at all (and I don't think it has) I can't find much fault with it. Other than that if they were restoring it, why didn't they do the outer circle too?!!

Admittedly I've visited both sites before, but I have to say that I didn't find it an anticlimax after Sunkenkirk. No disrespect to anyone, but the sites are so different that there is no comparison. To me it's like comparing, I don't know… Arbor Low to Doll Tor.
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Though I'd been interested in both for a long while, I finally got into stones & Cope relatively late in life and at around the same time (mid 90s). I guess my girlfriend at the time has to take the blame. She bought me 'Peggy Suicide' and she used to get those nice megalithic postcards from Mr Julian.

At first, looking at stones seemed just like a good excuse for stomping around in beautiful countryside. Little did I know how much more it would become. And that they're not always in beautiful countryside....

At the time I was living in Tufnell Park in London so started off with a lot of southern stones 'n' bumps, particularly on holidays to Devon, the Lands End peninsula and the west country in general. Since then holidays have become increasingly megalithacentric!

A couple of years later I moved back to Leeds where I lived for much of my adult life (I'm originally from Kent) prompting numerous visits to stones 'n' bumps in places like Derbyshire, Cumbria, N Wales and of course Yorkshire. I now live near Oxford (see 'Life?').

Strangely enough however, my most visited and probably favourite 'stony areas' are Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, though I've been to quite a few all over Scotland. This is again thanks to a (different) ex-girlfriend who comes from Montrose and is the mother of my glorious son Callan, who at the time of writing is 8 years old.

As you may have guessed, Callan is named after Callanish - at the time of his birth this was a long intended but unmade pilgrimage for me. But more of that in my debut weblog!

('Calan' from 'Calanais' just didn't seem to work. And for the older ones here, no, his name has nothing to do with Edward Woodward!)

Currently living just to the north-west of Oxford with the gorgeous Jane (we got married in October 2004) and Seafer (Jane's dangerous 'n' stripey cat).

I travel up to Leeds every few weeks to spend time with Callan.

I'm an editor, but am currently working as a civil servant. Boo!

In a varying order
Stones, vigorous country walking (and the countryside, obviously)
Various music, especially heavy rock and funk
Real ale & real ale pubs
Single malts
Bourbon (of the whisky persuasion - not the biccies)
Red wine
Roast tatties and chips (not usually together)
Most other food that never had a face
F1 racing (weird one, that)
Talking bollocks
Having a good moan

Vital statistics?
Height 5'8"
Chest N/K (large t-shirt size)
Waist 30"
Inside leg 32"
Aged 46 but fighting
Hair Long brown

- Moth
updated 10 November 2009

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