Yarrows Archaeological Trail
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Broch of South Yarrows, in a beautiful lochside location
The route turns south east, towards three very obvious monuments very close to each other on small hillocks. The first is a solitary standing stone, just inside a farm fence. This dates to the Bronze Age, like the hut circles in the valley below. It was once larger, and you can see broken pieces on the ground around its base. This stone is slightly off the path, so beware of wet ground! Carry on over a stile to the first of the round cairns. The views from this point are outstanding if the day is clear.
As you approach the south end of the loch the trail passes beside several Bronze Age hut circles. These may be difficult to spot at first, until you realise that the grass grows a different colour around the perimeter of the huts, marking their outline very clearly against the surrounding ground cover. The huts were made with a circular foundation wall of stone, supporting a conical roof, with a fireplace in the centre of the living space.
Broch of South Yarrows
Immediately beside the loch, at the bottom of the field below South Yarrows Farm, stands the ruins of one of the best-preserved and most beautifully located brochs in Caithness. The broch walls reach 2 metres high in places, and you can clearly see the passages and stairs built within the thickness of the walls. The main entrance still has its door lintel in place, and you can see a small guard chamber to one side. Surrounding the broch are obvious remains of aisled buildings called wags. These were bult in the later, Pictish era, and consist of a sunken floor, with upright stones holding a roof in place.
A word to the wise
Do take care! The trail is indistinct in places, and even on a clear day I meandered about in confusion trying to find the way in a few spots. South Yarrows Farm is within sight almost the entire circular route, but if the weather turns foul and you can't see the farm you may have trouble. Please take a OS map! I had one along and had to refer to it frequently just to make sure I was heading the right way. There are regular black and white striped poles which mark the trail, and these are a great help, but the poles do not cover every twist and turn of the trail, and are easy to lose sight of in places. Also, it looks like there used to be an information panel in the parking area, but it was gone when I visited, and signage is non-existant over the course of the walk, so it can be hard to interpret the sites.
The trail is only 2 miles long, and doesn't cover any great gain or loss of elevation, but it still took me 2 hours to complete. Of course, I did stop to take plenty of photos!
Now, don't let all those warnings put you off - I had a great time following the Trail, and I highly recommend it if you enjoy archaeology. Seeing so many prehistoric sites so close together is a real treat, and the landscape is simply stunning on a clear day.
About Yarrows Archaeological Trail
Address: South Yarrows, Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland, KW1 5SE
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: Signposted off the A99 at Thrumster. Small parking area at ND306435. Open access site.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Cairn o'Get - 1.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Whaligoe Steps - 2.1 miles (Historic Building)
Grey Cairns of Camster - 2.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Hill o' Many Stanes - 3.1 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Castle of Old Wick - 5.1 miles (Castle)
Wick Heritage Centre - 5.8 miles (Museum)
Achavanich Standing Stones - 7.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe - 8.4 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Yarrows Archaeological Trail:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Yarrows Archaeological Trail. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
Caithness Horizons, Old Town Hall
Highlands and Islands
Tel: 01847 893 155