I was lucky to be visiting the broch at the moment when a rainbow appeared on the horizon. It provided a dramatic backdrop to this Iron Age stone structure. The location is spectacular with the curving beach and expanse of the North Sea.
What are brochs?
They are circular, stone towers dating from the Iron Age. They are unique to Scotland and you will not find them anywhere else. There are over 500 of them in Scotland with most located in the north; if you are cycling in this area there is a very good chance that you will see some.
The purpose of brochs is debated, some archaelogists claiming them to be defensive structures where families and livestock lived. Some say that they were castles or simply grand homes where the wealthiest families lived.
There is only one entrance to a broch, a narrow door where you must bend down to pass through. Carn Liath's entrance is in good condition with the lintel still in place, so you still have to bend down to get inside.
Entering Carn Liath Broch
After ducking down under the door lintel there is a small chamber to the right that might possibly have been a tiny guard room from which the entranceway could be defended.
Once inside the central area it feels quite large and now has a neat covering of grass. Directly opposite you will notice another entranceway. This leads to a staircase with clumps of moss and slippy in the rain. This staircase once went all the way to the top of the broch, but now takes you to a rim from which you get good views of the sea and surrounding hills.
Unfortunately the dominant sound is the traffic from the adjacent A9 road, but this also makes it easy to get to. It is about 3 miles east of Golspie, 1 mile from Dunrobin Castle. The A9 is not the most pleasurable road for cycling, but there is no other way to reach the broch and if you are confident in traffic it is worth putting up with the busy road.
There is a good chance that you will meet a herd of cows at the site; they love the grass here. They might even be blocking the entranceway to the broch, but they will make way for you.
The coastal location is stunning and there is sandy beach, the expanse of the North Sea aInd hills on the horizon.
What always impresses me the most about brochs is the intricacy of the stonework. No masonry was used and many diffrent sizes and shapes of stones were perfectly laid together to interlock them and make the structure solid. It is worth taking a closer look at the stone to admire this work and marvel at how it has stayed intact for thousands of years.
I visited Carn Liath Broch during my cycling trip to Strath Brora. During this trip I stayed overnight in some old railway carriages, converted to accommodation, at Rogart station.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: