The year was 2010, the month was September and we were touring selected parts of the UK by bicycle. We were planning to do a 3 day Scottish Highland ride; west from Pitlochry for a day (to get us to the far end of Loch Tay), then turning northwards to Loch Rannoch, and finally heading east, back to where we had started. This post is the first of a series of four which cover this short tour.
We had arrived in Pitlochry by train (from Edinburgh) and had spent some time enjoying the Highland shops, stocking up on groceries and generally getting ready for the next stage of our tour.
The weatherman was promising a few days of relentless rain for the days we were planning to be on the road. This wasn’t great news because one thing we knew about the Scottish Highlands was that ‘rain’ was likely to be seriously wet stuff (unlike where we live, where it usually just means ‘intermittent occasional drizzle’!). To make matters worse, we were going headlong into the weather, not moving away from it. But we had stayed at our hostel for long enough and it was time to get back on the bikes to see some more of Scotland.
There was one thing in particular that we wanted to see. While riding in France (the year before) we had searched unsuccessfully for ancient stone circles and ruins. We were not planning to go to Stonehenge as we had been told about large crowds and advised that viewing of the stones was only permitted from a distance. But, according to our map, there was a much smaller stone circle feature along our planned route (Croft Moraig) and we were keen to have a look at it.
We headed south first, then west to Aberfeldy and across to Loch Tay. The ride took us through beautiful landscapes and we happily cruised along, engrossed with our thoughts and soaking up the captivating scenery.
So engrossed were we, that very nearly missed what we wanted so much to see! The only indicator was a sign with the name of the farm on it, but this was facing away from us as we rode along. We actually went past the entrance, then spotted the stones and then had to backtrack to the farm entrance.
The stones were in long grass in the field next to the road. There were no indicator signs and to our amazement, no other vehicles or people – just the farmhouse and a few disinterested cows!
We propped the bikes against the farm sign and walked through a convenient gate to get to the site. We were delighted to have the place to ourselves and spent a good half hour wandering around in the wet grass trying to imagine what had gone on at this site so long ago. We eventually did find a sign which described the stones and gave a few extra details about the site. However, very little is actually known about the age, function or purpose of these stone features.
Before we left Croft Moraig, I just had to get some photos of the most beautiful stone wall I have ever seen. It went for a number of kilometres along the road opposite where we found the stone circles. Someone had spent a lot of time and care making such a beautiful wall, and judging by the moss and lichen, it was also very old.
The weather was still holding, which was good, we had to get as far as the other end of Loch Tay (to Killin) and we optimistically hoped we would make it before the heavens opened. But the second part of this day had a surprise in store for us and forms the next in series of 4 posts on this ride.
(Follow this link for details on the overall UK tour route).