The Fairy Glen by Rosemarkie on the Black Isle

waterfall at the Fairy Glen

The Fairy Glen, on the Black Isle, is an enchanting woodland with stunning waterfalls and pools. Not to be confused with the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye (see it here).

Keeping the Fairies Happy

Children used to dress a pool within the glen to keep the fairies happy.

Coins are pressed into a dead tree, today for wishes or luck. In older, darker tradition these tree coins were an offering to the fairies to ask them not to exchange babies for changelings.

coins in a tree at the fairy glen on the Black Isle.

Walking in the Fairy Glen

The atmosphere of the Fairy Glen is joyful and light. It’s easy to imagine fairies dancing and flying and giggling over the pools and streams. There are nice clear paths and bridges through it all, making it a wonderful place to walk.

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Also see: The Clootie Well on the Black Isle

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The Mermaid and the Bear

The Mermaid and the Bear on the pink bench in the snow

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

A delight from end to end.” Undiscovered Scotland

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

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The Clootie Well on the Black Isle

Bring your cloots! And let’s go make a wish at the Clootie Well on the Black Isle.

The Black Isle

The Black Isle is a peninsula near Inverness in The Highlands of Scotland. The towns and villages of the ‘Isle’ boast many excellent museums, hotels and shops. There are castles too, making the quick drive over the Kessock Bridge well worthwhile. Dismantled oil rigs can sometimes be seen on the Cromarty Firth side, as can dolphins.

Cromarty

Searching for the Clootie Well

Inland there are older places, special places.

We take a wrong turn while searching for the clootie well, an ancient, possibly Celtic, shrine, and then spend some time wandering among trees.

pines near the clootie well

Ah Ha! We’re on the right track now.

cloots showing the way to the clootie well

People hang cloots (cloths) beside the well and in the surrounding woodland to ask for wishes or healing. As the cloot disintegrates, healing occurs or wishes come true.

hillside of the clootie well

It’s an unusual but peaceful place. Despite the modernity of many of the hanging items, the well feels timeless. The number and variety of cloots is impressive. They extend right down the hill to the roadside.

Let’s hang our cloots now, in imagination.

Let’s make our wishes.

And may they all come true!

the clootie well

In SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, Morragh ties a cloth above a sacred spring.

Excerpt

I tear a small piece of fabric from the bottom of my dress and tie it to a smaller branch of the tree above to thank the spirit. She needs it not, but it is a mark to me, a sign of my reverence, and a reminder of the blessing received on this day.

The Romans called it the edge of the world

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

See my About Page here

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Wild Violets Round the Witch Stone

wild violets round the witch stone, Aberdeenshire
wild violets round the witch stone

Wild Violets

I walked up to the local witch stone this morning, and found wild violets growing round the base of it. This stone is said to mark the site of historical witch burnings, and these little purple flowers seemed fitting somehow. Like nature had placed something beautiful where once there was ugliness.

witch stone

Someone had left a wee wicker offering too.

wicker offering at the witch stone beside wild violets

And the landowner had trimmed the gorse.

witch stone by trees

And the final item on this list of witch-stone happiness? I was actually able to walk up the hill to the stone for the first time since my latest autoimmune flare-up.

More Witchy Posts

And a Witchy Book

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair,  and a harp

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. There’s 6 chapters of medieval Christmas too.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

See all my books here

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Ailish's feet

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The Witch Stone in Winter

Frosty hill leading up to the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

The ground is solid, all the ruts and bumps, hard and crunchy under my feet as I climb the hill. And there on the top, small from this angle, is the Witch Stone.

It’s said that witches were burned there in the past.

It’s quiet now. Cold. Peaceful.

Ladybirds are hibernating on the Witch Stone today! I hope they survive the season.

Ladybirds hibernate on the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

A delight from end to end.” Undiscovered Scotland

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

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The Bridge of Alvah and the Earl’s Love Nest

The Bridge of Alvah

As a child, the task of walking to the 18th century Bridge of Alvah, near Banff in Aberdeenshire, was presented as something akin to travelling to Mordor: a journey of such length and difficulty as to render it impossible to your average mortal.

top of bridge

The walk from Duff House (a place with easy parking, swings, art gallery, tearoom and gift shop) to Alvah is actually comprised of just over two miles of well maintained track.

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The other fact about Alvah recalled from childhood is that it is a place of great natural beauty. That is true.

River Deveron

The bridge stands huge and majestic – it is a bit ‘Lord of the Rings’ after all – over a deep gorge and the River Deveron.

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I was most intrigued by the Gothic window (visible in first and last pics) and the many little hooks, just about discernible below.

side of the bridge

Googling revealed that there was a room for a toll collector within the bridge. This explains the window, though how a person got in there is not so clear. Either the door has been sealed or there was something Rapunzel-like going on. Local legend has it that the room was used by the (married) Earl to entertain young ladies so perhaps it was kept semi-secret. The hooks remain a mystery.

In summary: go visit the Bridge of Alvah; it’s well worth the two mile trek. Not an Orc in sight!

bridge from below

See the post about the Mausoleum for more on the grounds of Duff House.

Update: we revisited the bridge in Autumn and were given access the Earl’s secret room/love nest.

It’s beautiful.

earlsroom (540x540)
earlsroom2

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Naughty Contemporary Fiction

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more. Read all the blurbs here

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction by Ailish Sinclair

These novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

About Page

Ailish in the stones

Read all about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

Blue Loch at the End of Autumn

blue loch and a book slae

We’ve reached the cusp between autumn and winter. The blue loch reflects dark skies. There’s pumpkins and wind and rain and piles of leaves everywhere. Autumn is almost over.

And yet, we still have brighter days and blue skies. Sometimes.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
  • The main characters are fiercely bonded chosen sisters, one of them neurodivergent.
  • The story is set in 1st century Scotland and features the battle of Mons Graupius between the Roman invaders and the Caledonian tribes.
  • There’s romance, but it’s rather complicated romance this time.
  • The stone circle is still there in all its glory.
  • The castle is not, obviously, but there is a great round house where it will be one day. And a wee hoosie in the woods.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Sally Cronin featured SISTERS as a new book on her shelves here.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article New novel highlights Roman history in North East from Grampian Online.

Excerpt

Quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Bookish people can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here.

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Read my bio and see all the social links and articles here.

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Sunrise over Tiger Hill

Sunrise over Tiger Hill at Fraserburgh beach

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill is the largest sand dune at Fraserburgh beach. There are different theories as to how it got its name. One is that it looks a little like a crouched tiger. The other involves actual tigers. It’s said that four fighting tigers were used to ward off Viking invaders in the past, and that the animals were then buried where the dune is now.

Whatever the truth, Tiger Hill is beautiful.

Tiger Hill and the tide

Sunrise

Yesterday’s sunrise was beautiful too. It lit up the town.

Fraserburgh lit up by the sunrise, view from by Tiger Hill

I loved the pinks and blues of the sky.

sunrise over Fraserburgh beach near Tiger Hill

TENDU Aesthetic

The Wee Writing Lassie made this TikTik for TENDU, capturing many elements of the story:

@the_wee_writing_lassie

Check out my new post “The 8 1/2 Overly Pretentious Questions for Ailish Sinclair: The Second Question” weewritinglassie.home.blog/2023/10/21/the… #WritingCommmunity #authorlife #ballet #dancer

♬ Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

An Autistic Dancer, a Byronic Hero and an Obsessive Scientist

Read my series A Dancer’s Journey. There’s ballet. There’s lots of naughtiness. And there’s peril!

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Enjoy a kiss on the London tube in the first book, TENDU. Romp up and down the castle stairs. Dance in a stone circle. Attend a Ceilidh in the great hall. Have your brain studied in the dungeon. All fun, I assure you. Well, not quite all…

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Page with blurbs and quotes

There’s more about these stories in the posts below:

Diabolical reading

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

sisters collage

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page

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Strichen Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire

Strichen Stone Circle

I walked past the sign to Strichen Stone Circle on my road to winter journey on Saturday. That’s actually as close as I got to the stones. It was just a wee trip out.

Strichen Stone Circle

I’ve been many times before, though, so here we go.

Every time I’ve visited this site, it’s been a dull day. But the stones are still majestic and bold.

recumbent and flankers at Strichen Stone Circle

This circle was knocked down in the 19th century, then put back in the wrong place, then built into a folly, then excavated, and finally placed back in its original position in 1982.

recumbent stone at Strichen Stone Circle

The recumbent looks like it may have been used for something at some point, to hold a post possibly?

Strichen Stone Circle

You can see the old burnt-out Strichen House from the circle.

Strichen House in Aberdeenshire

A Stone Circle in Books

A stone circle appears in all my books, the new naughty ones too, but it is particularly important to the people of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. The stones of Aikey Brae feature on the cover.

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailsih Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, the novel includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The story features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Ethereal and spellbinding” Historical Novel Society

Elizabeth Felt, a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin, had this to say about it: “The tone of this book is amazing. At the beginning, the narrator is mute, and the book feels so quiet, so in touch with the earth and stone and air and water… Amazing writing. Excellent story. Highly recommend.” See the whole review here.

Article: Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair
The most highlighted part of the book

Pointing you to some more stones

sign to Strichen Stone Circle

And A Dancer’s Journey:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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Scottish author Ailish Sinclair at Berrybrae Stone Circle

My About Page

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Fedderate Castle in Aberdeenshire

I stopped to take a photo of Fedderate Castle near New Deer on my little road to winter journey. It dates from 1474, but there’s not much left of it today. The castle is a protected monument now, but before it gained that status, there was an attempt to blow it up as it was seen “as an impediment to agriculture.” It stands tall, a beautiful and distinctive shape in the landscape. The over-wintering crop around it is only slightly impeded, I think.

Medieval re-enactor Andrew Spratt took an older image of mine and created this rather wonderful GIF of the castle through the ages and the seasons:

Fedderate Castle on Canmore

The Mermaid and the Bear

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. There’s also a love story.

“A delight from end to end…” Undiscovered Scotland

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland from the Press and Journal.

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

A celebratory dance in a stone circle. Ballet foot en pointe.

My About Page

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Aikey Brae: the North Wind Doth Blow

Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Trees Felled at Aikey Brae

The dense block of pine trees that partially encircled the stones on Aikey Brae has been felled, leaving the site feeling like a windswept wasteland.

I knew it had happened but it was still a shock when I visited the circle at the weekend.

Originally posted 2020.

This was the first sighting of the stones after walking up the, admittedly, much improved and cleared, track:

Megalithic stones on the horizon

Gone is the path through the dark forest.

Gone is the experience of stepping out into the sunlight and the stones.

Traversing the, now rough, ground at the top of the hill, I got a bit closer, the taller uprights coming into better view.

Aikey Brae stone circle ahead!

Running to the circle

I ran the last bit of the way, wanting to be within the circle to get my bearings, so the place could feel like it used to. I sought views that would not have changed, having been open to the countryside all along.

Facing the great recumbent:

Recumbent stone at Aikey Brae

It still felt different. With no treeline at the side of my eye, everything seemed bright and glaring. I never fully appreciated just how much the trees sheltered the site before, till I was buffeted by wind at every turn. That shelter contributed to the calm feel of the place.

Now it feels stormy.

Stone at Aikey Brae

Cold.

The stone circle at Aikey Brae

Things Change

But I’m going to stop my complaining now. Because… well… things change. I’m sure the circle has looked like this many times during its 4000 year lifespan. Trees will have grown. People will have harvested them. Current thinking is that the surrounding land would have been tree-less when the circle was built.

Three prehistoric stones

And improvements have been made to the place. There’s a new path round the hill, boasting benches and a picnic table; a shiny new sign announces this upon arrival. I didn’t explore the path and the views it offers, still being a bit post-pneumonia feeble, but I will go back and walk it later in the year.

I’ve spent so much time at this stone circle, both physically and at my desk while writing, because though the circle in my books is fictional, it’s Aikey Brae it’s based on. The change will take time to settle. I need to notice the new beauty it brings. The light is different, I see that already. There are plans in place to plant indigenous trees; I will enjoy watching those grow large over the coming years.

And, no matter what changes we make around them, the stones still stand tall and majestic against the sky.

Two tall stones at Aikey Brae stone circle

Go here to view Aikey with the trees, and in the snow.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has a new sexy review from Grumpytyke: “Not far into the second half it became pretty sexy! I didn’t expect that, not from the first half of the story nor from Ailish’s blog posts.” See the whole review here.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

feet

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar