Pictorial blethers

By blethers

A visit to the Cailleach ...

I've blipped about this stone before, but today I had a chance to get close to it - up close and personal with the Cailleach,  "a divine hag who brings the chill weather with her as she walks the lands of Argyll in Winter and who turns to stone during the summer months. The stone at Ardyne is one of several locations scattered across Argyll that bear her name and carry links to her legend." If you're interested in the legend, you can watch a new YouTube video here; seeing the video came hard on the heels of my first noticing the stone, presumably after some growth of rhododendron and other saplings had been removed. If you look at my extra, you'll see that a rhododendron is already growing back between the stone and the road - if no-one keeps it in hand, the stone will vanish again, just like the Cailleach in summer.

I was able to do this today because I was out with my pal, and between us we manage - sometimes  - to behave as if we're half a century or more younger. We saved up our adventure till we'd had a sensible old lady walk along the Loch Striven road, spotting herons taking off laboriously and listening to raucous crows overhead. We'd even had a socially distant chat with friends we met by chance, and we'd been soaked by a sudden shower. But on the way back to our cars, we turned aside, clambered laboriously and with much hysterical laughter over the fence that the historian in the video makes look so easy (think brambles, moss and a jaggy tree, as well as advancing decrepitude) and ploughtered through the totally natural birch wood, which looks beautiful but involves negotiating tussocks of grass and moss, much mud, a small gully with a burn in it, and endless fallen branches and bits of trees long rotted. By the time we came out into the Cailleach's clearing, we were spattered in mud and staggering slightly ...

But it was worth it. My main photo shows the stone from behind, looking towards the loch and the sunset; the second the front elevation, standing on a steeply inclined, upthrust rock which acts as a plinth. The west-facing side is patched with pale lichen; the rear with clumps of thick dark moss. I felt we were there just in time, at the tail end of the summer days, before the winter dark that will suddenly seem real on Sunday, before the Cailleach reforms as the maiden who will not be a stone again until next summer. 

In the current state of our world, it seemed fitting to acknowledge the old fears and hopes in this ancient place.

Did the Cailleach give us a helping hand to get back over the fence? Perhaps.

Sign in or get an account to comment.