The Difference Time Makes

It is just a fraction over seven years since I last came here. With an Ordnance Survey map it is easy enough to find.  There is a small parking area, space enough for the trickle of people who arrive to explore. This is a ‘pre-history’ site, which,  you reach by an easy sloped climb; you can choose between two or three different approaches, although one approach would certainly depend on whether there’s  a bull in one of the fields and/or cows with young calves.  Dads can jealously guard their ladies and in any case, bovine mums and dads can be very protective of their broods. So,definitely, no waving red rags to a bull.

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Prehistory site Information 2009

The pictures I took back in 2009 were with an early bridge camera that had an unsophisticated limited zoom lens.  Even so, it is so interesting to compare the yesterday, (2009) and today, (2016) photos and see the very marked  modern man-made changes in that period sat on top of, and next to, the signs of time immemorial.

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Prehistory site Information 2016

There are five cairns at this site, none uncovered.  The outlines of three are straightforward enough to see. The roof of the highest cairn (height as in top of the hill) appears to have caved in, creating a rim on which, weather permitting, you can rest.  On a clear day you can also gaze upon the panorama of two counties and their mountains, plus an island twenty-one miles across the water, as you will see.

This a serene view from the top of the hill in 2009 and the picture below it, (allowing for differences of time, position, general weather conditions and the light) is a similar scene ….. and

p1010073-baillie-farm-house-wb p1000444-section-baillie-wind-farm-wb….this is how it has changed…and changed…

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…..A panorama – the same house and woods totally surrounded by windmills.

This photo also shows the sweep down from the ‘high cairn’ to a lower sited cairn, (the rounded mound on which there’s another modern day intrepid explorer).

This was a ‘tentative’ coastline wind farm development, in 2009.  There are more wind turbines now. The two wind farms are not far from one another.

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I did not want to focus on the wind farm, (the one above) in the picture below. I wanted to show the view of Orkney  across the water. It is  some distance away, you may need to peer in, but, it is there to be seen, to the right.

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The yellow flowering bushes in these pictures are Gorse bushes.

 

Morven and Scaraben are the mountains in the county of Caithness. This looks like Morven peaking up and over the horizon in 2009.

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This is The County of Sutherland, also in 2009, pre-turbine days, from the same vantage point.  If I am not much mistaken, you can see a couple of the Bens (mountains), amongst the clouds, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

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At the cairn, I was at the same level as the top of these wind turbines, (excluding the upper windmill arms). It was quite a thought.  The miniature buildings, (left) give some sense of scale.

You can see the concave cairn I have been talking about and a typical horn sloping along from what would have been the dome. This is the one from where you get all the great views. You can see a difference in the relatively richer looking grass on and around the cairn, in comparison to the rough moorland tufts on the ascent to it. The new heather blossom is bonny just now.

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Taken from  the cairn, and some distance away,  the land meets the sea. Stubble is being burnt off  the field . There are hay bales in one of the other fields. Across the Firth (sea) is the coastline of the county of  Sutherland and signs of village habitation.

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8 thoughts on “The Difference Time Makes

  1. What beautiful, panoramic vistas. I saw a fragment of a documentary recently which interviewed the engineers who climb to the top of the wind turbines for maintenance work – their brief was the turbines in the sea off the east coast somewhere. They did their job, then calmly sat down on top of the turbine and ate their sandwich lunch. ‘Sun, sea and a great view – what’s not to like?’ they enquired.

    • The sea turbine picnic must have been a rarity, Gilly, bearing in mind that the turbines are being installed in the best safety weather conditions to be driven by wind, wind and yet more wind, gales, storms and the occasional typhoon. Those engineers deserve a gold medal for the attempt!

      Turbine maintenance becomes a bit of a concern when you realise that a large number of the land turbines that are being erected are second-hand and are meant to safely provide a thirty year working life.

      • That’s a worrying thought. I agree with Flighty – I’m usually in two minds about turbines as well. I tell myself we will get used to them, as we did with pylons.

      • Indeed Gilly, on both counts. I have concerns about the maintenance and safety of the turbine blade shaft housings. (I think that’s what they are called). I could see the rust degradation on the the ones I photographed.

        Pylons seem less intrusive, in part because they are see-through, their wires are less distracting and as far as I am aware, have never been quite as destructive of wild life, nor of the land beneath their feet. They are still required, by the way, to feed the power obtained by wind into the national grid.

        I heard that a small turbine was erected to power a primary school, close to its playground. Because of proven safety concerns (note ‘proven’) it was permanently removed.

        There are other turbine stories; for example, where smaller ones have had to be removed from the roof tops of stores as they were being constantly knocked back off their ‘perches’ and were being damaged by the wind (!!) They were a health and safety risk to employees and customers.

  2. An most enjoyable post and interesting pictures. It’s surprising at the visible changes in such a relatively short period of time.
    I’m always in two minds about wind turbines, which I think we have to accept but should be sited with due consideration of the surrounding environment. xx

    • I totally agree with your last sentiments Mr F. My immediate thought at the distinctly altered view was, “is nothing sacred!” Each turbine is sited in about 400 tons of concrete, which we don’t see, they are in many areas of ancient peat land and in SSI’s. Swathes of Caithness and Sutherland are being carpeted, as far as I could see, with wind turbines. The RSBP have, so far, stopped two more developing.

      I can only assume that the land owner in the area depicted, has sold into the Government sponsored wind-fuel bonanza, as so many others have, and intends to enjoy the financial windfall, irrespective of other considerations.

  3. Goodness, how those views have changed, and sadly, not for the better. I agree that we need cleaner, greener energy but why do these turbines have to be onshore, surely offshore is far better, it’s more expensive setting them up offshore off course! There are plans for a huge wind farm to be built here, the destruction to the area will be fearsome, the damage to wildlife and migratory birds chronic, no doubt all the injured foxes, hares, birds etc will arrive at the rescue. All the locals are opposing it, but I have no doubt it will be built, again, why can’t it be built offshore?
    Your views are stunning, despite the wind farms, you must be extremely fit to manage those climbs, I feel breathless just thinking about it!xxx

  4. Offshore turbines are slowly being installed, they are more costly to develop, as you say. There are a couple to be seen on a clear day, as it was when we saw them, in the Beatrice Field off the far N.E. coast of Scotland. I have a picture of a vessel carrying turbines without blades, to be installed somewhere out at sea. The turbines are intrusive and as you say, are not without issues.

    The climb up to the cairns is probably one you could do, bearing in mind all your orienteering up and down the hills of Rome with luggage! 😉

    Thanks for your comments.

    xxx

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