Clava Cairns and Achnahard, Scotland Week 49 13th April 2012
The weather at the start of the funicular railway up the Cairngorm was trying to tell us something.

We decided to head north.

Away from the weather, and all the tourists we'd suddenly met.

A bit misty along the way, but clearing.
We stopped in some woods just short of Carrbridge.

Then onward, further north.

We saw the signs to Culloden, scene of the battle, but, since we'd been there previously and hadn't seen any bodies, old swords, or other memorabilia of battle, we decided to have a look at some Clava Cairns where at least there are piles of stones..

This is Balnuaran of Clava. The cairns that gave similar Clava Cairns the name.


First is a passage grave.

Self explanatory really. Originally it would have a roof of big stones.

At least one of the stones around the edge had abstract patterns, spoon pits.

All started about 4,000 years ago in the bronze age.

Then a ring cairn.
No entrance, and probably used for ceremonies rather than burials.

The left edge is a bit lower than the right which may (or may not) have been significant for the builders.

The standing stones were probably added later.
A kerb cairn.

Only 3,000 years old.

A distinctive part of all the cairns is the use of different coloured stone.

Rather than being laid at random the reds, whites and pinks are seemingly laid in a pattern. If there was ever a meaning though its been long lost.

Another passage grave.

The passages are aligned to the summer solstice.

Milton of Clava.

Just 10 minutes walk west along the road. Not as well preserved, another passage grave.

All overlooked by the Nairn railway viaduct.

Probably as large, and with as interesting history, as the Ribblehead viaduct.

But ..... unlike the Ribblehead viaduct where every 4th pillar is wider, the Nairn viaduct looks uniform (allowing for a bit of parallax in the photo)..

Maybe Scottish railway engineers know something the English ones don't ..... or vice versa. Its also part of the east coast network whereas Ribblehead is part of the west coast lines.

We are somewhere just about between the lowlands and the highlands. And only one road in front of us! 

And so north.

Past Ullapool.

Even though it looked interesting nestled by the sea in the mountains.
On the single lane road out to Achnahard.

Frequent passing places are well signed and everyone waves.

Stac Pollaidh in the distance.

And Stac Pollaidh closer.
We found a magic spot a few hundred meters from the sea.
With a river flowing from the loch.
And the mountains behind us.
So we went for a walk along the coast.

A stile befitting of a deer fence.

Sea and mountains.
Tardis was visible for miles.
Sunset on the mountains.
And then some.
The beach at Achnahard.
Scotland is not quite so free with the free camping as we were led to believe.

But there are enough spots for us!

Over the hill and the Summer Isles.
With a few coves.

There were no no camping signs here, but we would have felt uncomfortable near the houses.

We decided to climb Stac Pollaidh.

Doesn't everyone?

This is the view from half way up.

Not difficult, there's a well graded path all the way round it.

The mountains in this area are inselbergs. Sort of stand alone monoliths rather than massifs split by valleys. Very distinctive.

Very obvious when seen from on high.
All around us.

It snowed a little bit on us, and a lot on the next mountain over. Then cleared just as magically.

 Our campsite is somewhere on the coast towards the right.
And another wonderful sunset from the campsite.

All we could ask for.

Stoer, Scotland Week 50 17th April 2012

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