The first path is used is also an access road to both the old water tanks and reservoir pressurising Inverness' water system, and to some of the new water tanks. The hill works as a natural water-tower through its height and steepness, one of the last hills of the Great Glen Way before the Moray Firth opens out. There's a reservoir that serves also as a pond right near the top of the hill (which I will talk more about later), and a small reservoir pond from the old system that makes a tiny pond that seemed quite thoroughly frozen. The access road also passes a pair of abandoned cottages and several broken and ruined street lamps that are quite eerily bent out of shape, like they were snapped by a huge monster.
Beyond the access path I was onto footpaths, which as I got up the hill became snowier and snowier. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I think a lot of children had been up the hill to go sledding and dog-walkers had headed up there too, and the snow had been compacted into slippery ice. I was glad I had good boots and my walking stick with me! There were some interesting stones, including something that might have been part of the old fort, but it was cold and I didn't want to stop for photographs until I got to the cairn. The area is managed by ::Dunain Community Woodland:: project, and they have built steps, paths, etc.
|The view from Leachkin Ridge at Dunain|
|The remains of the cairn. Only one stone remains as an upright.|
There are no remains left in the cairn - and I don't know what happened to whoever was buried within it. It makes me sort of sad, that there's this trace of what was once a memorial that had considerable effort put into building it, but who it was meant to commemorate is gone, and any notion of who they were.
|Close-up of tools|
|The tree seat.|
After my little 'ritual', I walked down to a wonderful bench built around a big tree. I would imagine it is particularly nice in summer, a good shaded spot and with an excellent view all year around. I sat down and set down my cauldron as an object of meditation, a focus and symbol - the cauldron as the 'womb' of the earth, the snowdrops growing from it the coming spring. Imbolc is Brigid's day, and I know that cauldrons are more associated with Ceridwen. Snowdrops are a common symbol of the new spring as they are one of the first flowers to emerge and bloom - there are some 'wild' ones growing and blooming in the park in Inverness, so some cultivated ones are not too far off in their timing!
|Hard to make out, but the lantern is suspended in a tree.|
The dark area at the bottom is the water of the springhead.
On my way down from the seat, I walked over to the reservoir, which was frozen over with a good layer of ice, and very picturesque. There were still birds on around the small 'lake' that it forms, and it has an island in it and trees around it, so it looks quite natural - apart from having at least one straight side! Near the far corner of the reservoir is a springhead, and that springhead is 'the Well of the Spotted Rock', a fairy well, and once a clootie well, with a stone surround, but the stone surround was deliberately smashed a few years ago. Last time I was the well, people had left glass pebbles, trinkets, and a few clooties on the tree above - I left something myself, too - but when I was there that evening, I couldn't see any of the objects remaining. Admittedly, as the photograph shows, it was getting quite dark. The spring had obviously been flowing quite profusely recently, so perhaps some of the things left there were just washed down stream. I anointed myself with some of the 'well' water, and used a little to water my new snowdrops, then headed downhill. Conveniently, there was a bus waiting at the turning circle when I got there!