Oh my! What a lovely pair of circles these are. We are parked at the layby for the Loupin Stanes and set out across the field. As we came across the stones, I felt a sense of elation; iron age hillforts are all well and good, but give me an upright stone in a field and I am a very happy girl. This is a lovely compact set of stones, slightly raised but with a sense of isolation which suits the location perfectly. We then set off for the Girdle Stanes, expecting more of the same.
What we weren't expecting is one of the most beautiful and mesmerising circles we have ever seen! We were completely blown away by it all; the fact that it must've been HUGE when complete (although Vicky has her own theory that it was only ever a half circle.....that was something we pondered later over a couple of bottles of wine!), the fact that it reminded us both of Athgreany Circle in Co Wicklow and the fact that it was just bloody marvellous! I really wasn't expecting to feel so enthused by this place and I have a sneaking suspicion that the Girdle Stanes have just crept into my Top 10 Circles of all time list. The whole of this river valley reminded us both of Kilmartin and we wondered what other monuments must have existed here; surely this couldn't be it? As you stand in the valley and look around, it feels like there must be so much more just waiting to be discovered – or possibly ruined and now lost to us. We walked up to the road from here and spent ages just looking back down at this circle, completely in love with the whole place. Fabulous.
Pebs had mentioned that it has rained every time she has visited these stones but I am happy to report that the sun was hovering in the sky, albeit amongst some rather grey looking clouds and we were once again thankful that the weather seemed to be on our side. The ground between the 2 circles was very boggy and it took some time to navigate our way between the two. I definitely would advise walking from the Loupin Stanes to the Girdle Stanes across the fields (there is a wooden sign post showing the way) and then walking back along the road, as it gives you a real sense of how beautiful this valley is.
A lovely pair of sites, which I have been meaning to visit for at least 10 years, but it was always too far from the M6 on jaunts to the lakes & Scotland.
It is a fair old round trip from the motorway, but it IS well worth it - in fact I'm surprised more people haven't been. The circles are easy to find, well signposted and there is now a small layby for 2 cars, with an info board and sheets to carry round.
The circles are very different: The Loupin Stanes is a compact circle on a small flat platform and feels very cosy. The Girdle Stanes is a massive circle with many stones, and isn't really diminished by losing such a large area to the river. If anything it just emphasises how old the place is.
Well worth visiting, though the walk between is boggy and a little longer than hinted at-don't wear your flipflops- make the effort to visit this site and you'll be well rewarded.
The large stones are known as 'the loupin' stanes,' because it is said that lads, and even a lass, were in the habit of jumping from the top of one to the other; but as the distance is 8 feet, the people of the district must be uncommonly good 'loupers' to accomplish the feat without breaking their legs. However it may be with their limbs, so little are the powers of observation of the natives cultivated that, although all know 'the loupin' stanes,' they generally deny the existence of a circle.
From "'The Girdlestanes' and a neighbouring stone circle, in the parish of Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire" by David Christison, in PSAS 31 (May 1897).
An entry from Ancient Stones, an online database that covers most of the standing stones, stone circles and other stones found in South East Scotland. Each entry includes details, directions, photograph, folklore, parking and field notes on each location.