Thursday, 25 June 2009

Machrie Moor Stone Circles

23rd June 2009
A glorious day, so Hilary, Mark, Moss and I headed to the other side of the island to visit the standing stones and stone circles at Machrie Moor. Geoff Holder in his book 'Mysterious Arran' quotes Aubrey Burl's guide to stone circles which calls these "the best group of architecturally varied stone circles in Western Europe" . Holder continues that, "in a highly concentrated area you can find seven stone circles, plus several chambered cairns, standing stones and hut circles'.

You walk along a track from the car park between Blackwaterfoot and Machrie, which takes you into beautiful moorland from which you can see Goatfell and the other mountains. After a mile or so of easy walking you come to the stone circles and standing stones. The stone circles vary in size, and some have altar-type stones with them, and there are also single stones scattered around that seem like sentries. Further on you reach the three large standing stones, as well as one large stone on its own. It really is quite eerie, especially as they are next to a derelict farm house, Moss farm.
This is a great walk for people who don't fancy anything too strenuous. Machrie Moor itself is beautiful, with stunning views, and the standing stones are awesome. I have included a photo of Mark and Hilary next to one of the large stones to give an idea of scale.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Glen Sannox

Thursday 11th June
Hilary, Annie & I walked along Glen Sannox, starting out at the car park between Sannox and Sannox Bridge. Not to be confused with North Glen Sannox (see earlier entry), this beautiful Glen takes you up to the other side of the saddle from Glen Rosa (again, subject of an earlier entry). It was great to approach the mountains from the other side, as we got to see the other mountains, Suidhe Fhearghas (Fergus's Seat) and Cioch na h'Oighe (with the Devil's Punchbowl) that are hidden from Lamlash and Brodick side. The path starts by taking you along a burn and past the old salt mines, before opening up into the Glen itself. As you go further up, you start to see North Goatfell and Mullach Buidhe on the left, and the Witch's Step and the Castles on the right. These two peaks are really distinctive, with the Witch's Step featuring three sharp ponts with a large gap (her step) in between the first two, and the Castles having large granite boulders that look like crumbling turrets on the top. But most impressive is straight in front of you: Cir Mhor, the large comb, which Hilary and Annie descibe as a 'perfect mountain'. I hope the photos do justice to the beauty of this Glen and its mountains; well worth a visit, especially as the ascent is not arduous, ideal for those who want to see the mountains without having to climb too high.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Holy Island at last!

31st May 2009:
After several aborted efforts, I finally got to Holy Island with Hilary and Annie, on the most beautiful sunny day. Our house looks out over Holy Island, so it was great to finally get on the little ferry boat and go there to see the island for myself. Holy Island is owned by the Ropka Trust, and is home to Tibetan Buddhist monks who run closed retreats of up to 3 years on the Island. Although visitors are welcome, you cannot go near the retreat building itself. Recently a group came out after a retreat of 4 years! The Buddhists also run short courses at the Centre for World Peace and Health, in subjects such as meditation, Tibetan yoga and vegetarian cooking. See for more info on the project.
As it is in Lamlash bay, the hills on the island, Mullach Beag and Mullach Mor, allow great views back over the water to Lamlash, with views of Goatfell and the mountains behind. As you get higher up, you also start to get views around to Brodick to the North and Whiting Bay and Ailsa Craig to the South. There are two lighthouses on the island, as well as horses, goats, and rare Soay sheep.
We walked over the two hills, then followed the coastal path back round. On the path we passed St Molaise's cave, where the 6th century Christian Saint lived, as well as more modern rock paintings of Lord Buddha and Tibetan Buddhist Saints. We also passed the 'Old Man', a rock formation exactly like a face. As the bracken was too high to see it clearly, the photo attached is courtesy of Toosh, as is the one of the Soay Sheep and lamb.
Holy Island really is a beautiful place to visit, as hopefully the photos show. It is great to now be be able to look across to the water and know that I have been there - and hopefully will be there again before too long!