It was summer 1988 when I first visited this site. I'd approached it through deep plantation forestry and endured the clouds of firey midges which hung in biting clouds around it. Visits in the 1990's were no better. There were no views or any way to understand where this cairn stood in its landscape. All changed now!
The best way to approach these large Clyde Type Chambered Cairns is to follow the Glenashdale Falls path. Dont go up the steep signposted path if you want to avoid an excruciating climb! It is much gentler to walk on up to the falls and is really not much longer. You should walk the path right up to the falls then take a left along the smooth flat forest road which takes you around the hill. It makes for very easy walking and you are met with a spectacular view of the cairns as they sit in profile on the crest of their terrace with the Ayrshire coast behind them. The forestry has been completely clear felled allowing some wonderful viewing. You then walk down a gentle path on your left to the cairns.
The southern chambered cairn is aligned east/ west and looks directly to the black flat topped volcanic plug of Mochrum Hill near Maybole. These plugs/ igneous intrusions stretch from Scotland's West Coast to East Coast taking in Ailsa Craig, Mochrum Hill, Tinto Hill, Arthur's Seat, Bass Rock and the Lomond Hills.
The north chambered cairn sits on a north/ south axis and although only the massive cists are left in the centre, there are still large stones marking where the "horns" came out to. Views to the barbed peaks of Goatfell and Cir Mhor to the north are spectacular. If you are wondering where all the many tons of removed cairn material went... then on you way down the steep winding path look to your right and see the beautiful dry stane dyke which runs across the hillside! There's your cairn!
While munching a fish supper with my Mrs and kid the following evening, we could see the stumps of the north cairn from the path out to King's Cross Point in Whiting Bay far below. In its original state the cairn would have been very visible.
Firstly, I have to agree with others that this is a fairly steep climb but Vicky had assured me that it would be pleasant enough, walking up through the forested path; it was mid afternoon and starting to get quite warm. So off we went - only to find that ALL of the trees have been cut down!
On one hand, this was great news as the views were fabulous but on the other - not so great when you are huffing and puffing up a hill with NO shade in the blazing sun!
But......when you get to the site, it is more than worth the clamminess. The views from here across to Holy Island and across Arran are just spectacular.
I like the fact that you have to work to get here. Not really for casual observer, we had the place to ourselves and marvelled at the magnificence of this site.
First site in a three-day trip to Arran and a return visit to the Giant's Graves after 16 years. I'm sure the climb wasn't so steep the last time!
Two Clyde chambered cairns. The worderfully megalithic N one being the better preserved with its facade and forecourt (facing N) still clear enough. The main chamber is a joy and there is also a ruined S chamber.
Do not underestimate the trip to the Giants Graves. walk along a track for about 1/2 a mile and then the ascent begins, and goes on, and on, and on. Through the woods, the hillside has steps all the way to the summit, but it is a real steep climb.
Expect to take some rest stops (and on the way back down travellers plaintively asking "is it much further?") Once you reach the top of the steps, you might think you are there. Oh, no, continue along the hilltop, climbing still slightly, through the woods - watch out, we expected Orcs to come running at us at any moment.
When you reach the clearing, you will not be disappointed. What a great place! As others have said, the views must have been breathtaking - a burial for kings!
Only one thing spoilt our restful period at the top.... a phone call from work! don't take your mobile.
Hmmmmm.....Forestry Commision, those two words spell disaster for this monument. Well maybe that's a bit harsh cos the stones are wonderful, but the views would have been amazing if it wasn't for those pesky conifers. It is a harsh-ish climb, and you don't get the sense of height or views really for it.
But a bit of imagination will quickly get you in the mood, these remains are fine, and ok, the wood around is actually quite atmospheric.