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Kingston Russell (Stone Circle)

From the Grey Mare and her colts go back to the bridleway over the stile then turn left and keep going on a north westerly heading, when the track takes you to two hedges either side of the track and there is two gates on your right look for the Kingston Russell information board. The stone circle is through the gate away from the information board. Pretty easy, what went wrong Carl?
Hopping over the gate I stroll as nonchalantly as I possibly can, i'm even typing this carefully because that is one big herd of cows over there, and I'd appreciate it if they stayed there. During my nonchalance I extended the tripod for another bout of hoicking. So a hoicking I go, walking round the outside of the circle clockwise, noticing as I go, my only companion, Hardy's monument.

It looks like none of the stones are still standing, the largest stone has erosion marks on it like none of the others, like it was pulled out of a river. The immediate area is very flat, which is why I'd chosen this site as an equinox sunrise for this morning, but I'd have gotten here too late. Which is a maddening shame because it is a perfect site for a sunrise, or sunset, someone closer should get onto that.

It's not a great stone circle, but it is a good one and having been there gives me a warm feeling inside, it's now half past midday and I'm behind schedule, and very hungry, it's time to seek out another sort of warm feeling inside, en route to site number seven, strangely in the middle of the town of Dorchester.

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow)

From the Valley of stones, a very aptly named place, I head south west on Bishop's Road until the road forks and I go right, and park at the gate with cattle grid. Take the right hand path to the Grey Mare and her Colts, a very inaptly named place.
Follow the path with the hedge to your left,in the corner of the field go through the gate for another twenty yards then left over a stile follow the hedge that's right in front of you until you get to a gate, go through it and there she is, looks nothing like a horse.

I immediately take shelter behind the stones away from the biting cold, I am no longer using the dog blanket as a cloak but instead have wrapped it round me then put my hoodie over that, it's more practical and less stupid looking, still cold though, wish I'd brought my coat.
Sat behind the tallest stone i'm right next to what is left of the chamber, one stone is still in situ as it were, the rest is a bit of a jumble, I was unable to tell if the larger stones were chamber side stones or capstones or a dollop of both. Also right next to me in my hunched up position is a low stone with a hole in it, the significance of which utterly evades me.
Out of the cold I extend my tripod to its fullest, then emerge from the comfort of the nook I'd found and circle the tomb a couple of times taking photos from 11 to 12 feet in the air, it's not easy and may take a few tries and if anyone sees you you might look a berk, but it is I think worth it. The pursuit of a new angle and all that, speaking of new there's a stone circle a little over half a mile from here that I've never been to, Kingston Russell, lets go.

The Valley of Stones (Natural Rock Feature)

After having been to the Hellstone and Hampton down stone circle I drove north and parked at the space by the junction of Bishop's Road and National cycle route 2 Road. Not as eloquently named that one.
Passing through the gate, or was it a stile? I can't remember, just get into the field with an information board then head down hill following the most worn path you can find. The Valley of stones is on your left just another stile and your there, you are entering the valley from it's north east.

I mostly pass by the drift of stones passing the curious circular structure higher up the east slope until I cant take it anymore and dive straight down into them,
Among the most notable stones in the meander are large flat boulders with cup like erosions on the surface, boulders with coffee or rose coloured flint extrusions, a stone with a hole in it, and a stone circle, of sorts.

I've not been here before, clearly my one and only trip to Dorset twenty years ago was a bit of a rush job, a cursory glance at best. I passed the Valley of stones by in favour of the Grey Mare and her colts.
This is much better, time to wander and time to ponder, and the wind cant get me down here, but the dog blanket is still being my cloak 'cause it's still cold. After having sat and stared at the "stone circle" I get up and walk the stone arc back and forth, in the end all's I can say is one stone in the circle is a boulder practically bristling with rosy caramel flint, it's just about the prettiest stone I've ever seen, and I didn't get the stone circle feel from it, more of an enclosure of some sort, it has an entrance, and no where for the western arc of stones to go. I guess it could be Iron age.
Also, this is the place people came to to take stones away to build stone circles, it would be like going to B&Q and building your patio right there in the shop. Or perhaps not.

Hampton Down (Stone Circle)

After having retraced my steps from the Hellstone back to the car, it is straight across the road following the footpath sign saying Abbotsbury hill fort. Unfortunately the fort isn't on my itinerary but this is also the way to Hampton Down stone circle. Improvised cloak wrapped fully round me and with the hedge to my right acting as wind break this is as pleasant as walking has been this morning. Following the hedge on my right, leads to a gate with a sign on it, the sign is for the stones which are now at my feet. That was easier than I anticipated.

Most of the stones are pretty low but hefty boulders, made of the same flinty stone as places I've yet to see, the two at the south are largest. In past years summer growth drowns the site completely, so I'm pretty lucky to see it in such good apparel. The view south reveals Chesil beach again, and north once more to Hardy's monument.
With less wind because of the close by hedges, I remove my cloak and get the tripod out. I've not yet been to a stone circle that didn't benefit from an elevated photo of the site, so I hoick it up and try to keep it still in the wind, not easy, but always yields good results. This was site three out of the hoped for twelve, and my first site of the day that I haven't been to yet. I liked it.

The Hellstone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

The path to the Hellstone has indeed changed, I parked in the aforementioned layby, left the road opposite the farm going through a gate, there were cows in the field so I kept to the left side of the field. This leads to a stile, which in turn leads to a path between two fields, when one whole field has passed on your right, turn right, over the fence at a makeshift sort of stile. then it's up the gentle hill to the stones.

Even though it looks like it's been restored by someone who clearly didn't have a clue what it was supposed to look like, the Hellstone is still a pretty awesome thing to see. From on the mound by the stones you can see Chesil beach, Chesil means shingle, pebbles, it is the longest shingle beach in Britain. In the other direction a heath covered hill has a tower on it, Hardy's monument, Nelson's mate, not the poet, the monument is a handy orienteering wotsit, you can see it from almost all the sites i'm getting to this morning.

My coat hasn't magically appeared before me and it is terribly exposed on these hillsides so I have wrapped the dogs blanket off the back seat round me in an effort to fend off the icy winds. But it really is too much so I retreat into the dolmen and take a seat huddling for warmth. Boy do I not like the cold.

After having a long look round the tombs interior, there is nothing else for it but to brave the weather outside, I didn't spend more than ten to fifteen minutes here, I really am a plonker. The wind is making a mockery of my improvised cloak, whipping it up and over my head, rediculous.
But the Hellstone is awesome.

The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas (Stone Circle)

It's surprising how quickly three months can pass, it's already equinox time again and I thought I'd make a proper long old day of it. Twelve sites in twelve hours, a touch ambitious possibly, but I've neglected to bring either of the kids, which will help, and the car though small and slow has been faithful so far.
The plan, such as it was, was to witness an equinox sunrise from Kingston Russell stone circle. There's just two small problems with that, the actual equinox was yesterday, and I'm apparently a slow driver, because i'm not going to get there in time, I blame the poor state of British motorways, roadworks for mile after mile. Poop!

So I pull over early at the Nine stones, I haven't been here since before the big tree came down, it is not the only difference.
I parked at the farm building fifty yards down the road, walked back to the stones down the not dangerous at all road, and found no way to get to the stones. The stream was too wide to jump easily, the bridge is gone and the gate, there's no way in this way.
Back to the car and I drive a bit further down the road away from the stones, there is some new work going on, a housing estate possibly, I parked by the road. Passed through the fence with the red sign that says something like footpath closed and made my merry way off through the field.
It's about now I should make note that I have once again forgotten my coat, it is windy and cold, I really don't like being cold.
Having crossed the two fields, I arrive at the stones, here among the trees it is at least less windy. The circle is as lovely as I remembered it, with not much deviation from the original I reckon.
The two big stones, being entrance stones perhaps, meaning the stone between them is not in it's proper place, are two simply stunning stones, with huge amounts of chocolate rose flint showing, and a small colony of Harlequin ladybirds. Nice.

It's not easy to get the moment of sunrise and all the stones into the picture, first of all you have to be on the other side of the enclosing fence and there is a hill side in the way as well. So, not good for equinox sunrises, or winter ones, the hill would be even more in the way, but summer solstice would be fine, if you can cut down a few trees. I did say I was going somewhere else for the sunrise.

After failing to see a sunrise, staring closely and intently at the tall flinty stones, and walking round in at least a dozen circles, and this and that, it was time to go get my next stoney fix. So off I go to Hell, there is a stone there.

Knowlton Henges

It's been a long time since I was last here, I find myself saying that quite often these days, it was before my digital camera era, my daughter was in nappies and my son wasn't even real yet. So, with daylight waning I headed to Knowlton Henge for an equinox sunset, which was yesterday, some things never change.
I managed to find my way to it without the comfort of an O.S map, it's marked on my road map and that was just about enough. Only two cars were parked at the entrance so I easily squeezed the mobile isolation unit in and I hastened to enter the site.

Twenty years ago this summer was my last time here, with my wife and small daughter, it was a warm late afternoon, swallows swooped, bees buzzed, small daughter toddled around half naked chasing the dog, we sat in the grass, partaking, wondering at the perfectness of it all.
A million years later.....
I'm here on my own after one of the longest stoning days ever, i'm very tired, and core blimey it's cold. The occupants of the two cars have taken up residence on the henge bank with tripoded cameras, waiting for the sunset. I was shouted at once by a fat crusty woman for walking on a henge, I wonder how many henges she's been to.
The memories of an old man are the deeds of a man in his prime, some one once said, I often wonder if my obsession with seeing stones is born out of those few perfect summers with small children and love in the air, with all these new places to visit with fewer worries. Maybe.

Having wandered slowly about the church I was naturally drawn to the pair of Yew trees by the eastern entrance to the henge, I'm guessing they're about the same age as the church, Yew trees are awesome, they're practically immortal, the church can collapse and the henge wear down, but the Yew trees would still be there. The trees are close enough together to form a kind of plant cave who's walls are covered in cloots, if that's what we're calling them, coloured ribbons, often with messages written upon them, I have no strong feelings about them one way or the other. But I do like Yew trees.

I stand upon the henge bank with the other photographers, keeping further apart than two meters I can tell you, I've been practicing social distancing for decades, I'm very good at it.
Watching the sun slither down in the sky shining brightly through the dappling cloud, it was quite nice. Still cold though. As the sun got lower all manner of folk turned up to share the spectacle, most notable was a bloke with five, yes five Red Setters which he then let off the lead to charge around uncontrollably.
One of the photographers, with prolonged use of the F word, was audibly upset.

But it was all water off a ducks back for me, i'm not expecting bucolic yesteryear flawlessness, i'm not expecting anyone to take my wants or needs into consideration. I'll just be glad to have a better sunset than this mornings sunrise and a safe and uneventful and uninfected drive home wouldn't go amiss either.

Devil's Quoits (Circle henge)

It is still a difficult place to find, there are no signs pointing the way until you are at the small car park. Leaving the B4449 west of Stanton Harcourt head south following signs for the Recycling and waste centre, it is a dead end road, just keep following the road without deviation. As you enter the Recycling centre there will be a small car park immediately left. Use eagle eyes to pick out the small sign saying Devil's Quoits. Follow the path alongside of the big lake with birds on it until the henge and stones appears to your right. Bingo!

I didn't really know what to expect from this place, it's newness, it's fresh out of the box feel could have been overpowering, the landfill site right smack next door to it could have been suffocating. Both of these things are an inescapable part of the Devil's Quoits, but they should not put you off from visiting. People are passing by all the time but they are just folk out for a nice walk by the lake with lots of birds on it, they did not intrude upon my solitary musings.
So I start a walk round the stones, as it happens anti clockwise or widdershins, the first two things one notices about the stones is that some are really quite big and all of them are a lovely Cotswoldy yellow in colour. Other things one notices are some stones are quite small, one stone is outside the circle, pointing in, Clive Ruggles says it has no astronomical function, but the information board ignored him and said it does. One stone near the west entrance is clearly a few feet within the circle.
As I approach the east entrance I go for what I assume is a little trespass, through the earthwork over a not fence and up the landfill hillock with big valves on it. A good view of the entire site can be had from here, though the knowledge of what I'm standing on is a little stomach churning.
Back in the circle I carry on my unfavourable circuit of the stones, one stone a smaller one is strongly grey, standing stark against the yellow/orange of the other stones. I wonder who chose which stones go where and how they settled on this format. Mind you I wonder that at most stone circles, but the mind behind this lot is still alive and approachable.
Back at the entrance I have a quick look at the information board, it is, unsurprisingly, informative.
Either side of the entrance are some large stones that must not have made the cut for some reason but then got left behind, spares? The henge is slowly, or indeed quite quickly being eroded by burrowing rabbits, I have not seen such bunny destruction in a very long time if ever, the cute little darlings should be annihilated without mercy.
All too soon it is time to go, but my time here, was, I felt, well spent.
Upon my return to home I found out that not all the stones were modern replacements, at least three, including one of the big ones are original Devil's Quiots. Strangely (or not) this made me feel a little better about the site.

Coity Chambered Tomb

Eric and I didnt have a problem getting to the site, I parked by the house next to the footpath, there were two stiles I think and there we have it, but we didn't, oh no, no sign of it at all. It should be pretty visible by the hedge but it was gone, I began to doubt my sons stone finding abilities. Hadn't I taught him well?
I couldnt see it where it was supposed to be so we went past it til it was obvious we'd gone too far, then went back down the hill, then I walked past where it should have been to the end of the field, still nothing. So I jumped a hedge or two and found an older couple walking their dog, apparently they knew where the burial chamber was, I walked with them til we got to a point where they said it's in that field there through that gate up against the hedge. Perfect, that's the field I've just come from, so I went back through the gate went straight to the top of the field and walked slowly back down, poking about in the undergrowth, and yaaay there it is, I think, more than poking about is needed here, it is almost completely invisible. About now I begin to wonder where Eric is, did he follow me into the other fields or go back to the car?
I set about clearing the brambles, ferns and long grasses, I have no shears, no scissors, my teeth are pretty blunt so I trample as best I can while being torn to shreds. I got six photos in then the brambles tripped me over and my camera went inexplicably misty, two more unsatisfactory photos and I have to admit that I need to come back and do it properly, but god knows when that will be. I have run out of time, I have a date tonight, a date with the force and light sabers, a galaxy far away brings me back to normality, and a long drive home.

Cae'r-Hen-Eglwys (Standing Stones)

My daughter is in her second year away at university in delightful Stoke on Trent, I miss her terribly, but I needn't worry about her as she now has a boyfriend to look after her, and he does. When she is home, twice now she's asked me to drive her down to his house so they can be together. This is a double edged sword, he lives in Wales, near llantwit Major, South Wales, just about as far away from us as is possible whilst still being in the country next door. But on the other hand there are plenty of stones round here that I haven't yet had the pleasure of because they are so far away. The first time I took her down I dropped her off and went to see some cairns on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, this time I took the time to go in and meet his mum, but she was out, so I hugged the daughter and said goodbye, then Eric and me went off to find some stones.

I don't own the map that I need to find them, but I took some photos of the online map and Eric has his smart phone, so I trust in my 17 year old son and head off north towards Bridgend.
A lot of traffic slowed us down but in the end he took us down some narrow lanes and suddenly said stop, were here, are you sure I said turning to look at him, and there they are through the window beyond him. Ok well done say I.

I remember reading Gladmans scathing report of the site, lots and lots of rubbish strewn all over the place by the sounds of it. So I'm a bit apprehensive.
There is a broken information sign hiding in the bushes but I don't think it's for the stones, I climb the gate and enter the field.
Immediately I'm relieved to see there is no rubbish at all, but the double edged sword comes into play once more, this is still farm land and there is a massive pile manure not twenty yards away, but being anosmic this only offends mine sight. Between the stones and the manure is an unnavigable muddy quagmire, a treacherously unpassable sea of shit and earth, cows come here every day to feed and pass through the gate, it is a disgusting mass.
No rubbish though.

That all being something or other the stones are pretty fabulous. Standing closely a certain distance from one another, about five feet tall, one stone a tall and somewhat pointy stone leans only very slightly, but the other a broad round topped stone, it's lean is considerable, without being very exact it's lean is perhaps 55 degrees from the vertical plane.

Nice stones,
Bad mud and poo.

Priddy Nine Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Tis but a short walk from the B3135 to Ashen hill barrows, and about the same again to the Nine barrows. The first two we come to are separated from the other seven by a wall and over a hundred yards, one is quite low and the other has suffered at the hands of time two large scoops taken from it's interior.
Popping over the wall, the next barrow reached is a very low barrow compared to the others, barely a couple of feet high, the next one is taller. I move along the line this way and that, the barrows vary in height. The last two are the most interesting, the penultimate barrow has a ditch round it, possibly a bell barrow or something. The final barrow is right at the top of North Hill, it might even be the biggest barrow, and someone has built a not unattractive stone circle on it's summit, pilfering stones from the adjacent wall, as any welsh farmer will tell you, that is how it's done.
Off to one side away from the line of barrows is one more, so in all taking them all (Ashen Hill)into account there are eighteen barrows up here, it is an astonishing place, every bit as interesting as the line of henges and massively more visitable.
Come here!

Ashen Hill Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

I parked on the B3135 opposite Harptree lodge then walked back up to the gate opposite the southern henge. Hopping the gate and walking across the field the barrows cut a very impressive silhouette against the skyline. I head to the far right hand barrow first, back home i'd drive a hundred miles to see a barrow like this, there's eight of them here, well seventeen or eighteen actually but......
I stand atop the western barrow and look along the line of barrows, six are in a line but the far eastern two are off line and curving the line to the south. I make my way along the line going round this one up the next and round that one. It's worth noting about now the view to the south, almost paradoxically to North Hill and it's group of nine barrows, prosaically named Priddy Nine barrows, that one must have taken a while.
Ashen Hill barrows are every bit as cool and impressive as Priddy Nine barrows, I just wanted to say that, I don't know weather it means anything to anyone but I'd heard of Priddy nine barrows but not of Ashen hill barrows, and I should have.
Having said that I gird my loins and stride of to the nine barrows.

Stony Littleton (Long Barrow)

Fortune favours the old.

This years winter solstice has obligingly fallen on a Sunday for me, quite a feat as any other day and I would miss it, so even though I've been at work before 5am all week, I'm happy to get up even earlier and drive the drive on my own down to Somerset, and seeing as I hit fifty last month, happy chance benefits the aging.

Even though I went too far on the M5 and ended up going the long way round Bath and Bristol, I still got to the custom made car park for Stoney Littleton before sunrise. But it was full, a motor home gleefully took up half of it and five cars took up the rest. Consternation.
I knew there would be other people here, but I expected to be able to park. So I did, in a one car space along side the road further up. Then I walked back to the car park, crossed the little foot bridge, and went up the hill.

It's been such a long time since I was last here, so long ago that I don't have any digital photos of the place, it was a winter solstice that last time too, but it was a grey day and the sun never showed up. So with a mix of blue sky and fluffy whites I was feeling pretty fortunate. As I pass the sign pointing to the mound I can see there are indeed other people here, A guy with a cowboy type looking hat stands atop the chamber, as I pass over the stile I start to hear things, a heart beat? the rhythm of the universe perhaps? I approach the entrance of the chamber, there's a woman in an oilskin coat, we nod at each other, the noise is louder now, the heart beat has quickened, the pulse of nature? No.
It is a twat with a drum, funny, there was a plonker with a drum here last time too, and he spoke like a Bristolian too, grooooan does he come here every year and take up the end of the passage, I think this is the case.

So, bereft of the best seat in the house, I walk round the structure, stand on top of the structure, then pick a spot to stand by the entrance and wait for the sun. It finally arrives at about a quarter to nine, quite late right? The chamber is on a slight hill looking up the hill, so you have to wait for the sun and when it gets here it wont be a big beautiful orange ball, but rather a bright white light, this presumably was intentional, they didn't want the faint wan light of first rising, but the strong light of a risen sun.
Just then a bloke erupted from the chamber, he looked at me, I looked at him, then I looked at the open entrance, and in I go. My chamber was the first on the right, opposite me was a woman, the mate of the bloke that just left, then she left, uncomfortable alone in the dark. Further into the passage I suspect each chamber has a body in it, the drummer takes up the back of the passage, the best seat in the house. An older man then comes past me making for the light at the end of the tunnel, so I move deeper into the chamber and take up a seat in the middle left chamber. The sun is doing it's thing, it looks phenomenal streaming along the passage and lighting up perfectly some twat with a drum, I decide upon some photos and then exit the chamber myself, am I reborn, can I see the place in a new light, hard to tell, so I go on walkabout to see the place from a different field. Up hill the walk takes me, then round and then back, not a long walk, always keeping the chambers entrance in sight, when I get back it's all empty and I'm alone with the edifice, I get into every chamber, and finally take up the best seat in the house. It's wet, dripping, they were definitely not sitting on the floor. Oddly, maybe, the bit I like best inside the passage is where it narrows to the width of a slim man, me. Purpose made.

Bleaberry Haws Cairn (Cairn(s))

From the summit cairn of Bleaberry Haws (Follow directions for stone circle) I head off towards the big mountain the "Old man". First a strange linear feature is crossed, it's named as a dyke but it's exact function is I presume being guessed at.
Another hundred yards or so in the same direction is the cairn. A cairn, after several thousand years can take on a different shape depending on what's occurred there, some more pleasing to the eye than others. This cairn to my eye is very pleasing, the depth of the hole at it's center, the height of the cairn, the percentage of clear stone to grassed over stone, the fabulous views, the nearby rocky outcrop, all these things make you just wander round it, staring in wonder, sitting and staring in wonder. What a wonderful place.
Off to the ring cairn now.

Bleaberry Haws Summit Cairn (Cairn(s))

Follow directions for the stone circle and then just head up.
Crowning the summit of Bleaberry Haws is a small modern walkers cairn but it sits on a much wider obvious bronze age cairn. The views are spellbinding in all directions, but it's the Old Man of Coniston that holds your attention. While looking towards the Old Man bring your gaze down to ground level and in the distance is a cairn to which I'm off to next but between us is the odd linear feature or Dyke.

Bleaberry Haws (Stone Circle)

I've been putting this one off for literally decades, there always seemed to be bigger fish to fry, and a long, perhaps difficult walk to seven little stones. Little stones or not, it's a stone circle, i'm going to have a look, one day. That one day ends up being today, well, over a week ago now.
It's the weekend of the autumn equinox and I've been out and about all day, this is site number five and the last port of call today. Desperate to make an easier job of it than Fitzcoraldo did, he definitely seems to have gone the hard and long way, but at least at the end of his notes he suggests another route, the quarry track to the south west does look better.

I was hoping to drive up the track a bit but the gate was locked, so I had to park at the entrance and walk up it. Having arrived at the tracks left hand hairpin, we depart right, cross over a low point in the wall and head towards the grassy hill that is Bleaberry Haws, directly behind the grassy hill is the Iconic south Lakes mountain The Old Man of Coniston.
It doesn't take long before the summit isn't far off, although the summit is where i'm heading it isn't where I'm looking, the mountains are pretty over powering attracting ones gaze and keeping it, i'm falling about the place whilst not looking where I'm going, but just then, over to my left I can see some grey blobs just above the grass line and I know I have found the stones. I without doubt let out a little whoop.

The stones are certainly small, seven in number and unequally spaced suggesting missing stones, perhaps only a couple though. I sit for a while on the largest stone drinking in the grand mountain view, it's also pretty good in the other direction down to the shimmering waters of the Duddon estuary and the Irish sea. This place has me incredulous, why did I put it off for so long? I absolutely should have been here before now, but being here today with such perfect weather, not a cloud to be seen, or perhaps there was a cloud or two but my sunny demeanor just edits them out, nothing could mire this sublime moment and place.
The only thing that could possibly have made it better is Scarlett Johansson insisting on holding my hand throughout. Failing that the Old Man will do.

The stone circle isn't the only ancient site up here, there's a cairn or two a ring cairn and some sort of Dyke thing, so that's where I'm off to now, starting off with the summit cairn north east of the circle. But Ill return to it on my way back to the car.

Sampson's Bratfull (Long Cairn)

I'm here, the enthusiast has arrived (See Treehuggers fieldnotes).
Mr Hugger was right, the walk was not easy.
Walking is really overrated, I try to avoid it where ever I can, to that end I drove the car up the very often bumpy farm track, and when that ended and turned into a forestry track I drove up that too. In the end I parked at the south edge of Blengdale forest, by where the map says homestead, saved me a couple of ankle twisting miles, but there was at least four more to come.
The walk through the forest was easy enough, a good if up hill track, straight as you like. Until it ends at the River Bleng, where there is no bridge, I doubt the river gets much lower than when I saw it, you could, if fleet of foot stepping stone it across, I turned left and saw a gate across the river which I could shimmy across, you don't get much chance of shimmying these days so I was glad of the opportunity. Once across I walk back down the river until I'm opposite the footpath that brought me to the river, I couldn't find my compass so I'm going on wisdom and blind luck. With the path behind me, map in hand, my hand points north turn slightly right and onward.

It's quite steep going up from the river, but it soon levels out. The steepness is now replaced by a wind that definitely has somewhere to be, and that crap kind of tussocky ground/grass, the going was rough and slow, and quite a bit sweary.
My predecessor also noted many cairns on the way, he wasn't joking about that either, there is loads of them, surely they can't be all burial cairns, barely a foot high but ten feet across is the average footprint of them, some are in rows, none have a cist surviving. There among the small cairns is the whopper, the big one, The Bratfull that belongeth to Sampson.
I don't know when I first heard the name of Sampson's Bratfull (What is a Bratfull?) it was so long ago I don't even know where I heard it, but it's been in my head rattling around like the last grape in the fruit bowl. So in the spirit of getting things done here I am.
It's about seventy feet from end to end and aligned I think NW/SE. They could have put it on top of the hill on Stockdale moor, with some good mountain views, but instead they opted for the sea view. I'm now on mission number four of today's equinox jaunt and so far they've all had sea views.

I sit for a while in one of the excavations in the long cairn, of which there are three, keeping out of the wind, it's so strong walking on the uneven cobbles of the cairn was dangerous to impossible, and getting knocked about whilst trying to get that higher view by holding the tripod aloft was getting me very angry. I told the wind it was stupid, it didn't care. All too soon it was time to go, not back to the car, but further up the hill where there is a string of three very definite burial cairns, big and crazy with exciting mountain views.

Druids Temple, Yewcroft (Stone Circle)

Six years ago this stone circle was rescued, is that the right word? Old maps called the field Druids Temple, and in the bank under the hedge of said field were a number of large granite boulders, now we have a stone circle. Not all the stones found have made it into the reconstruction, some still reside in the hedge getting re-overgrown. There are over thirty pictures of the reconstruction on Facebook, but no information on how they found the stone holes, or if they even did, did they make their own circle, are stones in backwards or upside down. Tma'ers of the 22nd century might scoff at it's shoddy reconstruction, or they may applaud, who knows.

There are some pictures of the reconstruction on the Megalithic Portal, and also the warning "NO ACCESS IS ALLOWED YET", and "We intend a welcome sign to go up eventually. However enquirers should be patient for a few months more".
But that was, as far as I can tell six years ago, statute of limitations and all that, so off I go to the Druids Temple, Yewcroft stone circle (Rstd).

From Egremont go east to Wilton, exit Wilton east and look for a concreted farm track going right, if diplomacy and frontal assaults are your thing the stone circle is down there on your left, good luck. If though like me your a ninja at heart and sneaking about is your thing pass the concrete farm track and follow the road as it bends right and park on a gravel layby for one and walk up the road. The first gate you get to is the stones field. It's in open view of the house, at which I presume the land owners preside, so I entered the field at it's other corner and followed the hedge down the slope to the stones.
At the stones, there is a barbed wire fence around the stones, so I tore it down and went in (that's a lie, it was like that when I got here). I don't intend to stay long, this is just mission number two out of five for today's equinox jaunt, so I start photography straight away, no messing about.
Half way through, a silver car went past, it's a dead end road so there's a fair chance that's the land owner, did they see me, I couldn't tell, so I went over and stood by the gate and waited, but no one came so I continued with photography. Then I stood around for a bit, staring apparently blankly into space, but cogs and gears were a blur in my head, thoughts chasing each other round my mind pushing and shoving. Thoughts like how close to the original is it?(that's really ten questions) is that stone supposed to be like that or has it fallen over all ready? am I allowed to be here? shall I go? The last thought won out so onto mission three.

So what did I think of Yewcroft stone circle?
I liked it a lot, but i'm suspicious of it, like that Nigerian princess that e-mailed last night.
Reconstructions are rare occurrences, outside of Cornwall anyway, so we should be glad that the site page should read Restored not Destroyed.

Greycroft Stone Circle

It's that time of year again, where one simply has to get up really early and drive really far away in order to stand around in a field waiting as the world slowly rotates.
They're something I look forward to, equinoxes, and this one turned out really well.

On the M6 by 3.30am, a wee diversion round a closure
at junction 33, then a nice comfortable drive all the way to Seascale, no rushing about, cool and calm, got there early. But forgot to bring a coat, I might not need it later but standing round in fields before the sun has risen can get a bit nippy. Hey ho.
I parked the car on the wide grass verge by the gate near the bridge, you can see the stones from here. What you cant see anymore is the old ruined mill, it's been demolished to a height of a couple of feet and been landscaped into a place of local interest with information board, it mentions Greycroft stone circle, but barely.
Walking on, I make a bee line for the stones, with no agriculture to impede progress I reach the stones in quick time.
By my calculations I still have twenty minutes before the sun comes up, allowing for the slight hill between us.

Whilst standing round taking note of the stones, I noticed the big concrete cooling towers have gone, were they gone last time I came, it's been thirteen years, I cant remember. (29th September, so no) They've also put up two rows of super fences all the way round, they look new, I climbed over it and then up the big bank last time to get a heightened view of the circle. Not anymore.

Holy crap the sun's coming, look lively.
The eastern sky was as clear a sky as I've ever seen on an equinox, it's almost too perfect, just a tiny sprinkling of clouds might have been better, photographing directly into the sun isn't what I'm best at. Nor is being there exactly on the equinox either it's on the 23rd this year, and there's me booking the week before off. But as they say, hey ho.

I manically rush about trying to catch the light while it's at it's best, the sunshine glitters across the stones and sparkles in the grasses dew, and I forget the cold for a while.
It's not really an equinox sunrise type place, the summer solstice, that's another matter, the sun would come up out of some unobscured gorgeous mountain pass I presume.
A sunset would be good with wide open sea views all along the west side, perhaps coincidentally directly west of Greycroft is the northern tip of the Isle of Man. George says there are no coincidences.

The sun has now well and truly risen, that's mission accomplished, I've been here an hour and a half, taken 152 photos, and seen something that's only been seen by a handful of people since the stones went into disuse.
Speaking of disused stones I'm off somewhere a little bit special next, and it involves a little sneak, and I do love a little sneak.

Boleigh (Fogou)

I first tried to get a look at Boleigh Fogou last year in 2018, and like Carl I tried the phone number numerous times but got no joy. So me and Eric tried to sneak in, from two different directions, but without knowing exactly where the fogou is we failed miserably and gave up. Disappointed.

July 2019 and we're back for round two, obviously sneaking isn't going to get us anywhere, so the only other option is a frontal assault, straight up the driveway, they wont be expecting that.
Parking was obtained on the B3315 there is a little muddy layby just east of the entrance to Rosemerryn house. Walked back up the road to the driveway entrance and engaged in the assault. But we came upon the first defenses all too soon, a hand written sign asking people who want to see the fogou to please ring this number. Canny Rosemerryn inhabitants.
I got me phone out and looked through my contacts and lo and behold the number on the sign was the same number I'd tried last year. So with the faintest of sighs and the fastest of vanishing hopes I rang the number. It was to my amazement that it was answered almost immediately, I told the chap on the phone that I was half way up his driveway by a sign asking me to ring, and can we have a look at your fogou please?
The man from Boleigh, he say Yes!

We walked on down the driveway and met him by the house, he said hello and thanked me for ringing, he did point out that we should've rang further in advance, and I said we didn't know about ringing at all, and have come seeking fogou's out of the blue. A lie, and I'm sorry, but only a white lie to keep his sensibilities intact. Anyway, all was good and he showed us the way, only a minute later and we're at the entrance to Fogou.
When he left us to it and went about his business we had it all to ourselves, I've wanted to come here for twenty years at least, but saved it til last because of difficulties getting to it, of all the surviving get into-able fogous this is the last one, and I'm finally here, I was so excited I could pop, goosebumps, shortness of breath, dizzyness, I'd better get in before I faint.
As soon as your in, the creep entrance is immediately left, I walk past it to the far end of the Fogou, it is open, and looks to be an old break in point, stone is missing and it is all open. Back to the entrance and I have a look through the portal stones of the creep entrance and go through. Straight away a stone is on the floor right below a gap in the roof where some corrugated sheet metal now does the job of opposing collapse. Getting past the fallen stone the creep ends quite quickly. Lights off sit quietly. After a while I emerge back into the world, Eric is still looking at his phone, he cant have internet here surely. I have a look at the broken back end and then the bloke is back and he's brought his dog and cat with him. we stand around talking for a while, what's it for, we both agreed on some ritual purpose. He mentioned time team were here, and I remembered the episode he was talking about, they were digging a ruined fogou elsewhere but they wanted a more intact individual so they came here, with a dowser, I remember Professor Mick wasn't impressed.

The Rosemerryn man was not going away now so I took a hint and said thank you very very much but we must go now, he lead us away through the woods, across a lawn (that was as far as we got last time) through more woods (been here before) and with in sight of the car. Bang, Boleigh done, I can excise it from my obsessive mind. I'll probably be back in these parts again at least once and i'll go have a look at Lower Boscaswell Fogou, but really I feel I've done fogous now and I can turn my attention else where, Brochs maybe, I haven't seen enough Brochs.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website ten years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.

My favourite places are:

Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
HafodyGors Wen
Gwal y Filiast
Grey Wethers
Boscawen Un
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt

and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.

My TMA Content: