Callanish

ok photo junkies, here are some to keep you going.

Please remember! Photos need technology, technology needs power and internet access. And I am in a campervan without easy recourse to any of those…

Have a look on Google images for picture of the stones at Callanish / Calanais. Much better than anything I can show you

campervan (tractor)
campervan (tractor)
ruined house, Callanish village
ruined house, Callanish village
detail, house wall
detail, house wall
roof collapsed, but look at that lashing!! hemp rope not, straw, but impressive anywat
roof collapsed, but look at that lashing!! hemp rope not straw, but impressive anyway
Advertisements

yellow flag iris

plant growing, sample of fresh leaves with string

DSCF2761DSCF2767

campervan? dormabile?

When did campervans cease to be ‘dormabiles’?

Whenever it was, the one I am in now belongs to that era… described as ‘quirky’ by the owner it drives like a tractor, and I am looking forward to exchanging it for the one I booked, which has a fault being fixed. Soon, hopefully…

Another day on Lewis, another lighthouse. This one has been put to imaginative use as a kennel and cattery. Earlier I had tramped across a bog to visit a chambered cairn. As far as I can tell the land is pretty much bog everywhere apart from the roads. Makes walking anywhere cross country quite an adventure.

Callanish, Calanias, Callernish: all different spellings for the same place, an extraordinary collection of standing stones, stone circles and chambered cairns dating back 5000 years or so. The main collection, adjacent to visitor centre with cafe and car park, is very busy. The two outlying circles, smaller and involving a bit of bog crossing, are deserted.

I learnt my first word of Gaelic – no idea of the real spelling, but it sounds like ‘molth’. It means the pebble shore, and where the landlady at the last b&b played as a child. Her house was so neat and tidy it reminded me of the woman in Under Milk Wood who said “and before you let the sun in, make sure it wipes its shoes”. She took one look at my walking boots and practically whipped them off me before I could cross the threshold. I had stopped to ask directions nearby, and the man I asked not only knew where the house was, but told me there would be a gray Audi and a Polo parked outside. Local knowledge indeed.

from Skye to Harris, and to the lighthouse!

Imagine my delight when I arrived at this  museum at the north end of Skye, traditional, stone built houses with thatched rooves. And the sense of expectation that I would find *string* was upheld!

DSCF2747

The thatched rooves would once have been held in place by heather rope, weighed down with stones, as old photos showed, although the more practical chicken wire is in use today.

DSCF2738

Find out more here  http://www.skyemuseum.co.uk/index.html

Here is a fine bit of roof construction – straw rope lashing timber together ( with a 21st century electic cable running underneath!)

DSCF2742But despite these treats, and the fine weather, Skye did not capture my heart, so I decided to move on to the outer isles, and spent my first night at Tarbert on Harris. My first day here was delightful – I crossed the bridge link to the isle of Scalpay and walked out to the lighthouse. The weather stayed fine despite rain being promised, and I had another walk along Glen Lacasdail beside the water.

The plants have changed again – big patches of frothy, lime green lady;s mantle, which I think must be a garden escaper. And other escapees – clumps of huge Gunnera manicata and pale green leaves of crocosmia, a great string plant. But also orchids everywhere, and a whole range of others to discover.

I’m trying to work out why it feels so different here, and better… less touristy? more space? closer to the edge? Apart from the islands of St Kilda, there is nothing now between me and America across the Atlantic.

Awesome, as they say

Three million midges. There were at least 3 million midges at the campsite, along with a lot of angry people: not a great first night on Skye.  Parents  shouting at their children, kids shouting at each other, everyone shouting at the dogs… who were probably the only ones having a good time. Them and the people shrouded behind midgy nets – they were probably grinning from ear to ear at their good sense in having such an item, but it’s impossible to see through the nets which turn everyone into very scary Darth Vadar lookalikes. Perhaps its the midges that made everyone so very grumpy…

The rain lifted just as the ferry arrived at Armadale, and my spirits were high, only to be dashed by the night that followed. However, the next day the sun came out again, AND the day after, and I moved campsite and all the locals were happy and relieved to see the only bit of summer they have had this year. And then I found my first string related item! A 3 hooked wooden rope maker, rather worm eaten, on the wall of the dinosaur museum at Staffin. Yes, the dinosaur museum.

More soon, with photos, when I next have power

‘…there’s not much there’

The friendly woman at the hostel look puzzled and slightly anxious on my behalf when I told her where I was going to spend the day. ” Kilmartin? There’s not much there…” A statement that could not be further from the truth! Kilmartin glen is absolutely stuffed with prehistoric treasures – stone circles, burial chambers, rock carvings, a wonderful independent museum (and cafe). I have been before, and am sure I will be back. Coming here always feels a bit like visiting the ancestors.

I was first and only at the stones when I arrived early, and tried to imagine what it might have been like, 5000 years ago. The glen was used certainly as a place of ceremony and possibly celebration; would there have been parties and music and fires and feasting and people meeting up with old friends and making new ones? A bit like a pre-historic Glastonbury festival?  Long before designer wellies or phones (smart or otherwise) were a glimmer in anybody’s eye.

There’s much more about the history of this special place on the museum’s website here http://www.kilmartin.org/

A whole day exploring the cairns and stones, with no rain despite the forecast. And an opportunity to look at items in the museum relating to string.   One item is a basket made from leaves of yellow iris,  a reconstruction of a fragment found in Ireland. I have harvested some of the same leaves, which are in such abundance all around, and will dry them before making a sample.

DSCF2705

DSCF2704

On Sunday I went exploring to try and find a rock carving beyond Carnasserie Castle at the top of the glen. I met a woman with a map, who was not too sure about following it. I had no map but a fair chance of reading one, so we teamed up together and SUCCESS! The rock was at Ormaig. I was impressed despite being spoilt by the wonderful array of carvings in Northumberland. There is a description with photos here http://www.geograph.org.uk/snippet/9355

are you here for the fishing?

I am staying in a (luxury) hostel on the shore of Loch Awe, near Kilmartin. It’s designed for people who are mad keen on fishing, hence the question that everyone has asked me so far. The final part of the journey was along a single track road along the side of the loch. The flowers in the verges are spectacular, and it was no hardship to drive carefully: deep pink dog roses scrambling over the hedges, glorious yellow iris at its best, the same yellow as the monkey flower, the occasional pyramidal orchid, late red campion and early meadowsweet. Colours vibrant and stunning. And the trees on either side felt like fairy woodland – rowan, birch, ash, oak, willow… above a carpet of moss and bracken, all so very green.

And that’s just what I could spot from the car while watching the road for oncoming traffic to give way to – can’t wait to see what’s there when I start walking.