For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Dun Telve, Dun Troddan

I left Sandaig Bay most reluctantly.... Sandaig, with its beautiful but tragic memories of Gavin Maxwell and Kathleen Raine...



... Sandaig, with its razorshells and coiled lugworm casts and enormous jellyfish (some of them 1 and a half ft in diameter) on the beach, and its rockpools, and islands, and hard clusters of baby mussels...


Before heading further north, away from the unspoilt, heavenly Glenelg peninsula, I took 2 more walks - the 1st in Gleann Beag, one of the loveliest of all the Scottish glens. Here you can find 2 of the best preserved brochs in the whole of Scotland, both within half a mile of each other. This is Dun Telve...







... and this is Dun Troddan...



Brochs are drystone, hollow-walled structures of circular design, found only in Scotland - mostly in the far north (lots in Caithness), and in the Northern and Western Isles. Their function is unclear to this day. Defensive forts? Places of refuge? Homes for those high up in the social pecking order? What's beyond dispute, however, is that they were built in the Iron Age - between 2000 and 3000 years ago. They're astonishing, atmospheric places (later I saw another preserved broch - Dun Carloway, on the Isle of Lewis). Another broch-visitor, whom I'd been chatting to earlier, suddenly called out from 50 yards down the road: "Look up!" 3 golden eagles were soaring majestically above the topmost crags of the glen, each in a different part of the sky...
For my 2nd walk I took an overgrown, little-used path which snaked north-east from the small watery settlement of Glenelg. First I battled through 7 ft high ferns (some plants seem to grow taller on this western coast - which is bathed in warm Gulf Stream waters). Then I squelched across high, boggy moorland. It was all unbelievably lonely and remote. I met no other walkers. Finally I joined a forestry track which led steeply down to Ardintoul on Loch Alsh.
Returning along the narrow strait of Kyle Rhea - which separates Glenelg from the Isle of Skye - I passed a solitary sailing boat drifting in the middle of the channel. Loud music blared from the boat and echoed round the hills - I think it was an Elton John song, played over and over - but I saw no one on board. It reminded me of the Mary Celeste...
I roamed through a paradise of wild flowers - tutsan, heath spotted orchid, eyebright, bog asphodel, ragged robin. A yellow mist of meadowsweet. A froth of purple-tinged wild angelica. Ravens cronk-cronked, oystercatchers piped and a stonechat flew out of a gorse bush. A seal barked from far away. Then the rain, which had been threatening for hours, poured down. I scurried back to the car under a dripping blanket of pines. It had been a tiring but wonderful day...

8 comments:

Rita said...

Beautiful photos and looks like a perfectly lovely day, not to be missed.
Love the brochs. Never heard of them before. Fascinating the things that are out there to discover and enjoy!!!
Rita

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I'm fascinated by the brochs.

jay said...

Wow .. golden eagles!! What a privilege to see them. You are very lucky!

The brochs are fascinating. I've read about them. I wonder if they were simply look out towers - and maybe the look-out lived there, too?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Don't know how I missed this post—head too deeply buried in my own scribblings, I suppose.

Anyway, I'm now even more envious of your Scottish adventure. Never heard of brochs, but they are fascinating and wonderfully mysterious. I couldn't quite get an idea of their size, though.

I do hope you'll continue sharing your recent walks and adventures. I love going along, if only vicariously.

Libby Scott said...

It was by sheer chance that I happened upon your blog tonight and saw the pictures of the brochs. I took that walk ten years ago and the mystery and deep calm of these sites has remained with me ever since. Thank you for the reminder.

Dominic Rivron said...

Sounds great. A failing of mine is that I tend to get so engrossed in bagging tops that I deny myself days like this. Perhaps I should spend more time just wandering...

TheChicGeek said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. A friend of mine took a walking tour through Scotland and said it was one of the greatest tours she had done in her life. It is so pretty there.

As for the jelly fish....those are some giant jelly fish! I caught myself once in the ocean surrounded by them and was stung several times...very painful, but they certainly are beautiful creatures :)

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all these comments. The brochs I visted, Grizzled - Dun Telve, Dun Troddan and Dun Carloway - were particularly well preserved, and perhaps 20 - 30 ft tall. Most brochs however crumbled long ago and you can only see the footings.