For me this site is really under-represented! Looking at the first circle of the White Moss pair, we all commented on the fact that we'd not really heard much mention of the place and couldn't understand why. This circle in particular is in really good condition, considering it's location, and taken into consideration with the other four circles. The only reason I can think of for why more people haven't visited is it's remote location, but it's not that difficult to get to. We took a more direct approach this time, venturing over Hard Knott pass and, despite difficult driving conditions, decided it's a much quicker route than the one we had taken previously (the coastal route) and offers some spectacular scenery (and a Roman fort).
Burn Moor exudes a real magic. For me the best spot is within the first of the two Low Longrigg circles. From here the view down to White Moss and Brat's Hill is very clear, and quite overwhelming. I've yet to see these sites in sunny conditions, and I must admit, these overcast doomy skies do kind of add to the place, but next time I will definitely try to visit on a cloudless summer's day, just to see how much this affects the sites.
I'd go as far as saying it's pretty perfect up here, and would urge anyone with an interest in the stones, who can, to pay a visit because it really is a very special place. The walk from Boot is steep, but well worth the effort. Fantastic.
The two Low Longrigg stone circles are in the worst 'nick' of the five upon Burnmoor. In many respects, however, this is of little consequence... for as IronMan says, the view to be had here really IS everything. Particularly when looking south-east across the plateau to the other monuments, mist swirling all around to add that essential 'edge'. To remind the viewer that this is not make believe... oh no, it is cold, wet and.... hell... a joy to be alive and experience something so wild, uncompromising and... real. Yeah, suddenly everything appears to make sense. Or at least as much sense as this 'hobby' ever will do, I guess?
Both 'circles enclose cairns, the north-eastern site possessing a pair, the other 'circle one. According to Burl - who should know since he excavated one in 1947 - a further grouping of cairns to the south-east are Bronze Age clearance cairns. Seems quite a lot was going on upon this now deserted moor millennia ago.
Today, however, all is (mostly) quiet, the atmosphere overwhelming, the only sounds that of the wind and the skylark. Come to think of it, the latter is a pretty noisy little sod - very close to irritating, in fact - but since he lives here... and I don't.... his exuberance is not an issue. Sure, I've no compulsion to blast him out of the sky, unlike some 'educated' morons I might mention. I stay for several hours, simply looking and taking it all in, until the mist descends to finally envelope the plateau once again in mystery....
Back at the car in Boot I find 8 hours have elapsed since parking up this morning. Well, there you are. Despite being so ethereal and silent, Burnmoor clearly has quite a bit to say to those who may wish to listen. If you get what I mean?
Set a little to the north-west of the wonderful Brat's Hill stone circle enclosing its myriad cairns, the paired stone circles upon White Moss would need to be very special indeed to sustain the drama - I think that's the correct word - and maintain the feeling of evocative abandon experienced by this wide-eyed traveller up here upon this wild moor. Fortunately, they are.... Oh yes! With bells on. In fact I have to admit these two are arguably my finest monuments in Lakeland for sheer atmospheric vibe, affecting me no end. In fact you could say to the nth degree. No, really. Although I was never any good at algebra or trigonometry at school, Thom might well have approved of the analogy. Perhaps, perhaps not.
That other great stone circle luminary, Aubrey Burl, cites the circles as being 'ruinous'. Maybe, but when you're used to tiny Welsh upland 'circles as I am, these are nothing less than 'substantial' in comparison. Mist swirls evocatively - evocatively as long as it doesn't head this way, that is - across and around the long summit crest of Illgill Head to the north, the far flank of which plunges precipitously, albeit unseen, to the depths of Wast Water. To the north-east Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, is itself cloaked in a mantle of grey vapour. So what's new? Well, viewing it from inside an enigmatic stone circle, for starters. I swear if you was to look up 'evocative', or, say, 'ethereal' in the Oxford English Dictionary there would be an image of White Moss. Ok, ok, there isn't. But there bloody well should be.
Both circles have 'just' the single cairn, placed centrally. It is more than enough, but Burnmoor doesn't let the visitor off the emotional hook that easily. No, look further to the north-east and two more stone circles are visible upon Low Longrigg. Go on. You know you must. You have no choice in the matter.
It's difficult for me to relate a visit to the five - count 'em - stone circles located upon this remote Cumbrian moorland plateau without descending into trite cliche. You know the sort of thing.... evoking Wagner's Tannhauser or something similar? But then again, just how do you adequately describe something so intangible - and yet, paradoxically, so real - that the medium of language, perhaps even in the peerless hands of a Shakespeare, cannot hope to convey? I guess there are just too many mutually dependant factors involved in forming the 'moment', complexities maybe a whisky blender or perfumer may be equipped to handle. But not I......
A heavily overcast dawn at Chapel Stile, Great Langdale precedes a never-less-than... er.... 'interesting' drive over the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, the descent into Eskdale, past the Roman fortress of Mediobogdvm, not for the faint hearted. Or those with dodgy brakes. Probably safe to say that this Imperial outpost was not the most favoured of postings for your wannabe Roman citizen? But, hey, that was only yesterday. Well, two millennia ago... but I've even older 'things' on my mind.
Upon arrival at the tiny village of Boot, the label 'chocolate box' is so apt it has me reaching for a certain confectionary item lying temptingly upon the front seat. Go on, you know you want me. To be fair, despite the tourist tearooms, the charm isn't altogether illusory here, the cascading Whillan Beck crossed by a fine stone bridge. Beyond this, a wooden gate gives access to a VERY steep bridleway ascending the fell to the right, along what appears to be a dry stream bed. Probably rains a lot, then. Ha! The angle begins to ease as I approach some old stone buildings and emerge onto the moorland plateau beyond.
The first monument to emerge from the gloom is the Brat's Hill stone circle. Although somewhat - hell, marvellously - dishevelled, this is a gem and well worth the climb in itself in my opinion. The largest monument upon the moor and overlooked by a prominent rocky outcrop, Brat's Hill is particularly notable for the five kerbed cairns which occupy its interior, four clustered to the west and one standing isolated, aloof from the others, in the eastern sector. According to Burl - yes, himself - these cairns were excavated in 1827, the eastern cairn's kerb - now gone but like the others then comprised of fourteen orthostats - being described as a 'parallelogram of stones similar to that in the Keswick circle'... in other words, that'll be the enigmatic, still surviving 'enclosure' within Castlerigg, then.
So that's what the Castlerigg feature was/is. The kerb of a burial cairn. Or was it? Bearing in mind Thom thought the two circles very similar in design, I think I'd go with that, all things considered.... Yeah, suffice to say Brat's Hill sets the mind in flux, never a bad thing, I find. The weather's on the move, too, so I take a compass bearing and head towards the next of Burnmoor's linear treasures visible to the north-west.... the paired White Moss stone circles.