Tuesday, 9 August 2016

On standing stones and brochs

Today began overcast, damp and midge infested. I wanted to apply bug dope but was disappointed to find I had left it in Montreal. The wind had dropped which was just as well as it was generally a headwind today. I set off up the granite slopes of North Harris. The scenery was spectacular but alas steep. It was slow going for quite a while.

Harris gave way to Lewis at a seemingly arbitrary point, but following it, the landscape began to soften. After stopping at the Land Raiders Monument, I rode into a village to mail postcards and eat a banana. While performing the latter action, the two young Englishmen rode by on their way to Stornoway. Their plan was to catch the two o'clock ferry to Ullapool.

As the land leveled out somewhat to peat bog and moorland, I hung a left to take the long way around to Stornoway. This took me to a number of historical sites, most notably the standing stones at Calanish. Unfortunately, the visitor's centre was short on a lot of answers and left me with a lot of questions, such as "Where did they get the stone from?", "Have the archeologists look along the lines suggested by the stones for anything of interest?" and the like.

As I was heading back to Leonardo, an outdoorsy looking woman of about sixty asked me if I would mind Millie, her golden retriever, while she used the loo. I accepted as the golden was very appealing. When she came back, she asked me if I knew where "The Broch" was. (Brochs are a distinctive form Iron Age fortified houses ruins of which can be found in a number of locations in Scotland. I had visited the bare foundations of one in Kintyre in 1996.) Being a librarian, I said I know but I thought I had seen on the map which was on the bike. We headed over there and sure enough, it was only a few miles along the road.

The Broch in question is the best preserved one in existence. I got there after the woman who was from Cornwall and described herself as over-educated. I met as she was leaving and we ended up having a long discussion about history, archeology and tangential  matters. (In hindsight, I should given her my card.)

The Broch was a marvel of preservation and seeing this one gave me insight into the nature of the fragmentary remains I had seen in Kintyre. Also, the sun came out in earnest which was good.

I made a discreet investigation as the whereabouts of the oil rig. The result of this was that I found out which road to take and that said road was cordoned off by the authorities to give easy access for   heavy equipment. I could have hiked over a hill, but the ground in these parts is currently saturated and I didn't have hiking boots.

I was also getting tired. One symptom was growing hunger which I dealt with via chocolate bars. It was also getting lateish so I pressed on in the golden sun over the moors to Stornoway arriving tired but pleased.

For one thing, it was the first day I had ridden in anything but my merino jersey.

1 comment:

Margo and Chris said...

Grandpa would be proud of you visiting that broch. Im sure you know he was wont to say "Anything after the tenth century is boring."