Wednesday 9 December 2015

The Wife With the Bratty Plaid

Excellent day walking yesterday in Stirlingshire near Balfron. Paul and I headed out to find the Carlin Stone and the Wife with the Bratty Plaid (the wife clothed in plaid - link to come shortly). 

With OS map in hand we set off into the forest and soon came upon a logging operation.

The world smelled of pine, but it was a sad sight. A sustainable forest, but a 'tree farm' all the same. The machines were in full flow. One minute a standing pine, the next a toppled log. Sad to watch. We took a small path deeper into the woods, away from it all.

The ground was saturated after the recent rains which have caused chaos in the North of England and even brought to life one of the largest waterfalls in the United Kingdom for the first time in centuries. The moisture also brought out a wide selection of fungi, including this nest of honey fungus, which glows in the dark.

And plenty of moss - yes, more of that shortly.

Eventually we came to the edge of the wood, where it gave way to open moorland. The stones were shown as being along the boundary of the forest and the moor. 

Moss on a Gate

The large clumps of heather and grass (lovingly referred to as tribbles) can be a burden and a boon. They keep your feet out of the water, but they're also hard going to trek across. Definitely a work out.

We soon found the Wife with the Bratty Plaid, and both agreed she has a lovely nature. A really nice, if somewhat stumpy, standing stone.

We were trying to work out the name. From a certain angle, the bobble on top sort of looks like a woman's head looking down, pulling her plaid about her for warmth, but it's tenuous. Perhaps it relates to a dressing ritual of local boundary walkers or something like that, or to the moss, but little is written about her.

Pulling Her Plaid About?

There's another slab of stone a little further up the path.

And one just over the fence.

But the most interesting is a lump of rock placed next to her, almost like a table or altar, with thick seams of quartz running through it.

Right, time for some moss shots...

There was just time for a quick cup of coffee before heading on to find the Carlin Stone.

To get there, we had to wade across a marshy stream. The ground was thickly covered in moss, but it moved with the water beneath. We did well on the way there, managing to use clumps of reeds as stepping stones, but on the way back, with feet already soaked, we just waded through it up to our knees.

I got ever so slightly distracted in the woods. There was a gap in the trees and I followed it down. I could see lumps between them that almost looked like a hut. Slightly uncertain, I ventured in and soon discovered that the lumps were clods of up-turned tree root.

I then discovered a set of fairy steps up the side of a tree.

Too cute for words. Moss shot... 

I found a fairy pool. An exchange was made, and suddenly all the light in the woods turned golden. It was very beautiful. By the time I found my way out again, there was just time to see the Carlin Stone (even smaller than the Wife) and have a little snack before we began to lose the light.

I didn't feel so affectionate towards this one, but the landscape was lovely enough in the last of the light.

We made our way back through the forest...

Passing a farm house with its own wind farm. 

And reclaimed Kitty from her desolate spot just as the rains came down. Rather good timing, and a lovely night of red wine and waffling commenced.


  1. Thanks for all your photos. I went looking for the Wife today, and wasn't sure until I got back and checked the internet that I had actually found her. Further explorers please note that the track off to the right from the initial track, which you have to follow to get to the edge of the forest, has been quite churned up by forestry work and does not initially look as if it is more than a cul-de-sac. However the required track can be found to the left, just after you've started into the cul-de-sac. There is now a deer fence along the the north edge of the forest and the Wife is on the forest side of this fence, just where there is a slight change of direction. I was on the other side, so will have to go back for another look.

    1. Really glad it was helpful and thanks for the update :)


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