Gatehouse of Fleet Off The Beaten Path Tips by nickandchris
Gatehouse of Fleet Off The Beaten Path: 2 reviews and 10 photos
Cairn Holy stones
We nearly gave this site a miss, being up a very narrow and steep road but in the end, we decided to take the motorbike off the van and travel that way.
We were so glad we made the effort; what a beautiful location and tranquil ancient site this is!!Set on a hillside, surrounded by more hills on one side and the sea on the other, it had obviously been chosen with great care as a place of worship and burial.
The two cairns, situated some distance apart, date from Neolithic times, before 4000 BC and are a typical example of the Clyde type burial cairns built in these parts. The first cairn, Cairnholy 1 is the better preserved and this is where we met Joe, an American who had moved to these parts some time ago. He helped us to understand what these places might have been, how the stones were all lined up slightly differently so as to take in the different solstices with the summer solsice sunset shining directly through the entrance.Could this have been an ancient calendar?He also made us notice that one set of stones created a curved line whereas the other formed a straight line, the same with the tops of the stones. He told us not to speculate but to look! It was all quite fascinating and the more we did look, the more we saw.
Cairnholy 11, further up the track, is aligned in the opposing direction, we think! This is reputably the tomb of the mythical King Galdus.
The site was excavated in 1949 and part of an axe made from the rare green stone, jadeite, from the Alps, was discovered .The site finds are in The Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
You really need to visit this place on a beutiful day when you can fully appreciate it's location and alignment with the hills and setting sun.
From the A75 heading towards Creetown,a signpost points to the right. This is a very narrow road of about a mile with few passing places. There is a small parking area by Cairnholy 1.
First view of viaduct, driving up the road.
Take the B796 from Gatehouse of Fleet for some 7 miles or so after which you will see a signpost for viaduct and visitor centre. This is a rough track but perfectly doable in a motorhome.
The road initially follows the disused railway before it cuts off leftwards, rejoining at the viaduct.
Before the viaduct, there is a visitor centre but ignore this park and continue on to viaduct. To explore the viaduct park here, you can walk up onto the disused track via a footpath from the picnic area and information board here. Further on is a further picnic and parking area.
The railway was opened in 1861 and was known as the Port Road, linking Port Patrick and Dumfries.It's 300 yards and twenty arches spans the Big Water of Fleet (which was merely a trickle on our visit and the viaduct just seemed totally out of proportion!) and is a most impressively huge piece of architecture. During WW2 it played an important role,transporting supplies that arrived in the country and also moved US forces along the line.
Sadly, during the Beeching rail cuts the line closed in 1965. It has a claim to fame - being used in the 1939 film The 39 Steps. Come on, everyone remembers that scene......
There are walking trails to follow and the views from up by the viaduct are pretty decent.
A most impressive piece of workmanship indeed.
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