With the unexpected return of winter I took my chance when the morning cloud broke into welcome sunshine. The plan was to visit some of the stone circles around Inverurie, starting with Balquhan.
All seemed well as sunshine followed me all the way to Balquhan Mains where I parked just off the crossroads. Bennachie looked grand with its cap of snow gleaming in the sun as I set off on the walk through the farm to the circle. But as I approached the monument, the skies started to darken, Bennachie disappeared into the gloom, and I realised I had just minutes to enjoy sunlit views of the circle.
I made it in time and was rewarded with some splendid wintry photographs of Balquhan Stone Circle. I used a monopod to gain height and the elevated view was quite revealing. Another set of photographs was combined into an excellent panorama.
Conditions showed no signs of improving as I returned to the car, and minutes after I moved off it started to snow. Inland it looked bleak indeed, and I reluctantly headed back home.
This is a great site but you really need a good day to fully appreciate it.
In the sun, the 3.1m white quartz outlier would look magnificent. In the dull flat light of the day of my visit, it was just another stone. Similarly the cupmarks needed a lot of faith to see and they just refused to be photographed.
I found this hard to find without an OS map or decent instructions. And also frustrating because I could see it in the field but wasn't quite sure how to get to it and where the farm was to ask for permission. Personally I would say either get an OS map, or follow these instructions. If travelling North on the A96 look for the first junction after Inverurie. Take the road west from the junction (signposted from the A96 as Chapel of Garioch) and after exacty 1 kilometre go right at the first road junction / crossroad (it is a crossroads but in reality it doesn't seem like one and is very small). You MAY just spot a farm sign saying 'Balquain Main' at this crossroads. On this track there is a farm about only about 70 metres on your left. The farmer said I could drive up the track for another 70 metres or so and park at the two holiday cottages that he lets out to holidaymakers. He may say something else to you; who knows. Then I walked a bit further up the track and across the edge of two fields to my right (East). It was about a 10 minute walk from the farm to the circle.
The circle was heavily overgrown when I visited, and the rest of the field was ploughed, making it really stand out whilst driving along the road towards the crossroads. The height and ferocity of the grass made it hard to get around (it was far higher than the photo in TMA), but it is in a great setting, and it's interesting to wonder what it could have looked like many years ago.
An isolated patch of grass, nettles & thistles in the middle of a corn field next to the main road out of Inverurie. Only the recumbent, flankers and several other stones remain. Like East Aquhorthies, it's on a slight slope, but this time towards the recumbent. The line of the top of the recumbent does seem to echo the shape of the horizon before it - does the moon ever 'roll along' here? I was so fixated on the horizonal thing, fresh from revelations about circles and the horizon at Castlerigg, I forgot to check the other side of one of the stones for the cup-marks that Julian mentions. Doh!