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Caithness Field Club Bulletin
Field Club Activities in 2003
Sunday 27 April - The year started with our Annual Coach Trip. This was to be "A Tour around Caithness". We left Thurso 9.30am picking up members from Wick along the way. Our first stop was Sarclet and its harbour; the sun shone as we walked down the track to see the remains of the slipway, capstan and breakwater. Next, Whaligoe Steps - where the intention had been to walk a little way down the steps to see the landing stage and nesting birds. However some of us hadn't been here for a while and spurred on by the sunshine many of us galloped all the way down.
The Hill o' Many Stanes was next on our list and nearby was Halberry Head, the site of Crowner Gunn's Castle. On then to Latheron Harbour, a charming spot where we could have spent more time but our soup and sandwiches were awaiting us at Lybster's Portland Arms so Latheron Harbour had to wait until later in the year.
Lunch took a little while and so to
Achavanic and its mysterious stone circle and on to
Westerdale and its
water mill. Here we meant to stop and take photographs but this
was where our luck changed and the rain started to come down steadily.
From here we drove on through
Scotscalder / Westfield / Lythmore and Crosskirk hoping the
rain would stop but it was not to be. However, the braver ones amongst us
walked down to the
chapel at Crosskirk with its graveyard taking in the snuff mill
on the way back. We also saw and heard
the new windmills - the closer you get and the bigger they
Sunday 18 May - Geoff led a party following "The Priest's Road" over the Scarabens - a walk that had attracted him for a long time. Some of our regular walkers didn't venture on this one - I was one of them - fearing it would be too tiring to be fun but Francis, the gardener from the Estate joined them and was a great help guiding the late-comers to the Chapel site. Two cars were left at Braemore and the main body set off from the garden. They were soon at the Chapel site, then crossed the Strathy Burn and after half a mile the Priest's Road could be seen. It had been a beautiful sunny day, a worth-while walk, perhaps a little longer than usual but everyone was happy about it.
Meanwhile, four ladies who had not joined the walk filled up a car and had a walk in Broubster Forest. This was delightful; I was surprised to see there was a loch there with an up-turned boat - I must not have looked at my map recently! An ideal picnic spot - not much bird life but plenty of botany.
Friday 23 to Monday 26 May -The
Club Weekend. In Orkney this year based at the
Kirkwall Hotel. We sailed from
Gills, sharing cars to cut down on expense. The crossing was calm in
both directions - in fact some of us enjoyed a bacon roll on the way out -
a most delightful sail. The rest of Saturday was spent exploring Kirkwall,
St. Magnus Cathedral and of course Judith Glue's Emporium!
Sunday 1 June - A walk to Carroll
Broch and Ducharry Hill Fort - The route was led by Jack Bamaby and
members who preferred a low level walk had a forest and loch walk led by
Myra. We met at Brora car park and using as few cars as possible
because of limited parking space we drove to the Ford. Here we divided
into two groups, the climbers heading up to the Broch leaving the rest of
us to meander along the loch side with occasional forays to examine the
remains of settlements. These settlements are more visible from the
hill fort, but it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenery and the
company and the sighting of an occasional stag. To add to the general
interest. Ken and Myra discovered and identified for us the many plants in
bloom that time of year. The low level walkers were back at the Ford
before the others and Myra had time to dip her feet in the water while
Richard valiantly walked back to Brora to fetch the car for Joyce.
Sunday 15 June - A walk
Duncansby to Skirza led by Calum MacKenzie - This was very well
attended and included two visitors from S.N.H. so quite a crowd of us took
off across the moor with wide views of the sea.
Wednesday 9 July - Puffins at Drum Holliston - an evening walk led by Ken Butler. An enthusiastic crowd set off in search of puffins and on the sea stack just off the coast, we found puffins a-plenty. We had left Thurso about 7 pm and arrived back on the road about 9.30pm. A lovely evening stroll and it was still pleasantly warm.
Wednesday 6 August - Mid-week
walk led by Myra from
Lybster Harbour to Achastle
(See Lybster To Forse Castle). On what was surely the hottest
day of a very hot summer, 15 of us set off up the brae above the harbour.
There were pauses to look at flowers and birds as we wended our way along
the coast to Achastle. We also kept an eye open on the seaward side in the
hope of sighting some of the cetaceans (porpoises, dolphins and whales)
which have been observed around our coast this summer, but no luck! This
had been a large herring station in the 1800's and there is still evidence
of habitation before the herring boom. We lunched here enjoying the
scenery and relaxing after our hot walk. Later, some of us revived
sufficiently to scramble uphill and along the cliffs for a closer look at
the ruins of
Forse Castle; the rest of us sought welcome shade in the old
Sunday 31 August - This is a tale of woe!! A sail to Pentland Skerries had been arranged by Gordon some months ago. On the 27 August, one of the Directors phoned and said that this booking should never have been accepted at our chosen times and if we still wished to sail, they could take us at 0830hrs and return us at 1730hrs. All intending sailors were informed and this was deemed unacceptable. A strong letter of complaint was sent off to which there has been no reply.
Sunday 12 October -
A walk for Archaeology Week to Latheronwheel led by Geoff.
Twenty members and guests assembled on a rather grey day. First we admired
the harbour built in stages from 1842 by Mr Dunbar. Back up the road a
little, we crossed
the bridge (built 1726) and in the large field to the south we
inspected the ruins of the
Watch Tower, then on to
the long cairn, which like all the monuments here is much
damaged. A little farther on, there were stalled cairns and a
briar encrusted broch. Almost lunch time now so we followed a
wooded track down the hill and back to the bridge.
Friday 21 November - Gordon led a short walk from John O'Groats to Sannick in brilliantly sunny weather tempered by a keen wind. We met at the car park where Gordon told us about the Viking burials found nearby and led us East along the coast path to a chapel site and on to Sannick Bay. Here the Boars of Duncansby were beginning to form. We returned by the remains of the curious tower house found by the sand excavators in the 1940's. A nice surprise now - Dr Jack Dunnet who spoke to us at the Annual Dinner had invited us to his house for lunch. Jack lives at Skirza and he and his wife generously plied us with soup and rolls and our visit ended with a conducted tour of his garden which stretches from road to sea. This was all very enjoyable and there were 17 members present so feeding us was no mean feat.