CLACH AN TRUSHAL
I had passed the sign on the way there, but normally, as in other parts of Scotland there is no real warning of the turning in advance, and the sign is simply on the actual corner, which makes it a bit difficult if you have no real idea when it might be coming up, and of course Strict Lady is WORSE than useless at something like this. But armed with the knowledge that it was just by a place with a sign for antiques outside we spotted the turn easily. I was a narrow track, but I am used to those now, so it was no real problem. The road ran in a dead straight line down to the sea, and hoping there would be a tuning place as it was on the tourist maps we headed on down.
At the last group of houses someone was outside polishing a car, and waved me down. Apparently there was no turning place the way I was headed, and not only that the stone was not there either. I should have taken a left up towards a farm. How lucky was that? If I had gone on down I would have had to reverse for about a quarter of a mile or more.
It turned out he was a traditional Harris cloth weaver, as his father had been before him and he invited me in to see his set up, and looking at the age of the machine I think probably his grandfather and maybe great-grandfather must have been Harris Cloth weavers as well. It was fascinating seeing the machine and watching him work it, I took a little video clip on the phone, and hopefully sometime soon I should be able to download it for you. I also had the gift of a piece of Harris tweed, which I shall use to get some cushion covers made for Thebus.
So put in the right direction I drove to the standing stone which was not far away. My kind benefactor, who's family had lived there for generations, told me how originally the village there had been down right near the seashore, and the bank where the stone stands was used for cutting peat. In 1806 only a couple of feet of the stone was visible when the cutting started, but gradually more and more was revealed, along with other smaller surrounding stones, which were taken away to be used for building stone.
By the beginning of the next century the stone as we now see it had been revealed, and interest in its history being expressed, it was preserved as a monument. I have since been told, that after modern research it has been shown that the stone is at least twice as long as the part currently exposed
It was a beautifully still day the sky was clear blue, there was just the faint sound of the breakers down on the far shore line and the larks were singing their hearts out, then what I think was a corncrake. Having never heard one I couldn’t be sure.
I intended to driving on down towards the Callenish Stones, but somehow, don’t ask me how I took the wrong turn and headed back towards Stornoway, or as it is written on all the signposts here Steòrnabhagh. That’s fine and I respect the idea of promoting the Gaelic language, but I think they should then issue their tourist maps written in the same language. Its rather like going to Portugal and being given all the tourist information with the names translated into the English equivalent, and when you start to actually drive round the place the signposts are naturally enough in Portuguese, with the names you have on your map in much smaller lettering beneath. Plus Gaelic seems to like to use a small paragraph where a simple word or maybe two would suffice. So by the time you have read the first indecipherable paragraph you are well past the turning anyway.
Anyway my mis-turning after the Clach an Trushal stone was the start of a rather unfortunate incident, though with some happy outcomes.