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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Drinnie’s Wood: Rapunzel Tower and Stone Circle

tower in Drinnie's Wood

The Tower in Drinnie’s Wood

Rapunzel’s Tower appears over the trees in Drinnie’s Wood, dark and mysterious, a fairytale setting at the top of a hill. No hair is let down in answer to my call. Maybe the newly installed CCTV reveals me to be neither prince nor abusive mother figure, so I am ignored? Or maybe the words on the council sign are true, and the Drinnie’s Wood Observatory really is only open May-September.

Onwards and upwards. And downwards. Up the wrong path and back again. Up another, almost identical, path and… ta-da!

The Elusive Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle by Drinnie's Wood

It evaded me for years, this place. The entry to the narrow path is hidden by low hanging pine branches, and it wasn’t until the advent of Google Earth that I finally pinpointed its exact location.

I do like the white tree that stands opposite the large recumbent stone:

Loudon Wood by Drinnie's Wood

Most stone circles in Aberdeenshire are imbued with a  deep peacefulness. This one seems alive somehow, buzzing with an undercurrent of ancient energy, like a radio still tuned to the past. Carved stone:

stones in Drinnie's Wood

Back to the Future

Back to the present and a newly planted wind turbine, another tower I would like to look inside; see the inviting steps and door at the bottom? Surprisingly large, up close – diagonal was the only way to get the whole thing in shot – and surprisingly quiet, whoosh-whooshing us gently into the future.

a modern tower by Drinnie's Wood

Also see:

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

The Alligators and Follies of Pitfour Estate

Latest book

Bullet points about SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

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 neurodiverse 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.

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Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers

Balmedie Beach, walking on the beach

On the way home from a hospital visit in 2020, I stopped at Balmedie beach.

Balmedie Beach

I crossed the boardwalk slowly, being careful not to catch my slippers in the gaps between wood. My foot is a lot better, though I still can’t wear proper shoes or put my heel right down on the ground, but I was determined to walk on the beach.

Continue reading “Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers”

The Sea Wears Wonderful Colours

peering through the grasses to the sea

A mellow walk on the beach. A moment to catch our breath.

through the grasses to the sea

We start high up on the dunes and push our way through the long grasses, side-stepping to avoid the many large snails that live there, and then we walk out on to the sand.

the sea

There we stare out over the wonderful, wonderful sea, that is showing green today. We stand and breathe the sweet sea air, and feel the gentle breeze on our faces.

darker skies over the sea

It doesn’t stay bright and gentle for long. As is so often the way in Scotland, the weather is subject to swift change. By the time we leave the beach, the wind, a breeze no more, is swirling dark clouds over Tiger Hill, the largest dune on the skyline.

clouds gather over the ebach

The star of today’s little blog has been: Fraserburgh beach!

I needed that breath of sea air today.

Let’s end on an, albeit metaphorical, oceanic quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.

Quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

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 neurodiverse 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 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 Editor’s Pick

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Short Post: Early Morning Walk Before Writing

I am now well enough to start the day with an early morning walk, just like I always used to. And today, it really feels like autumn. I made a wee video:

I walked all the way up to the Witch Stone.

early morning walk to the witch stone

But now it’s back to making SISTERS happen soon.

And, it’s out now!

Sisters at the Edge of the World, out soon

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The White Horse of Mormond Hill

Ear of the white horse on Mormond Hill
The White Horse on Mormond Hill as seen from the distance

History of the White Horse on Mormond Hill

The white horse of Mormond Hill in Aberdeenshire can be seen for miles around. Constructed of white quartz, the horse is said to have been built by a Captain Fraser in the 1790s after the Flanders campaign. His own horse was shot from under him in battle and his sergeant offered his mount as replacement and was shot in the process. The white horse is a memorial to Sergeant Henderson.

Visiting the Horse

I have visited the horse a few times, by car a long time ago, and also by walking. It’s quite a long walk! From the village of Strichen you head up Hospital Road and keep going. The road becomes a track which leads to fields. You cross a stile at one point. Then there’s a wee path and it all gets rather steep.

But it’s worth it. Look at the views!

Views of Aberdeenshire.

And of course, the horse itself:

Ear of the white horse on Mormond Hill

Folklore

According to a local saying, if you turn round three times in the horse’s eye (just visible in the lower right corner of the above photo), your wish will be granted!

The nose of the white horse on Mormond hill.
The nose.

Do be careful if walking on the hill. Parts of it are boggy and the ground once swallowed a whole tractor.

The remains of an 18th century hunting lodge in Aberdeenshire.

The aforementioned Captain Fraser is also credited with the hunting lodge on top of the hill, now a ruin.

View from the hunting lodge on top of Mormond Hill in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
View from the lodge.

So, lets perform a triple pirouette in the eye of the white horse, have one more gaze across the countryside as we try to pinpoint which village is which… and then it’s time to head back down to earth.

Countryside views from Mormond Hill.

My Latest Novel

Bullet points about SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

From the provocative opening scene to the later dramatic and devastating events of the story, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a book that will continually surprise, delight, and sometimes shock the reader. The novel features the beautiful hill of Bennachie, and the stone circles of Aberdeenshire along with the cliffs and caves of Cullykhan Bay.

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.” See the whole review here.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Aberdeenshire in Roman times takes centre stage in author’s latest book from AberdeenLive.

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

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In Search of Lord Pitsligo’s Cave

craggy coast on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Lord Pitsligo

I’ve written about Lord Pitsligo before, briefly here in a post about his home, Pitsligo Castle, and then in more detail over at The Witch, The Weird and the Wonderful. He’s an intriguing character who hid around the Buchan countryside for three years following the battle of Culloden, for some of the time in a cave which is still referred to as Lord Pitsligo’s Cave.

I had to find it.

floral coastline on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Walking to Lord Pitsligo’s Cave

A friend and I set off along the coast, heading West from Rosehearty, having read several conflicting accounts of the exact location of the cave. We knew it had been blown up by the home guard in WW2 and the lower entrance made inaccessible. Perhaps the best we would be able to say was that we’d walked near it?

white quartz line on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

We passed lines of white quartz and rocky plateaus and many craggy cliffs where we stopped and wondered: is this it?

rockpool on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Then: yes! We just knew we’d found the place. Seagulls flew up, angry about us being so close to their nests, but down we went into the bay.

Lord Pitsligo's Cave

It’s not too easy to discern in my shadowy pictures but there’s a pile of rubble where the lower entrance would have been and a small opening in the cliff above.

beach by Lord Pitsligo's Cave

My friend went back on a brighter day and zoomed in on the higher entrance:

Lord Pitsligo's Cave

We walked further, along to Quarry Head, the site of a 16th century shipwreck (interesting story here), and looked back across the various bays:

bluebells

It’s a stunning bit of coastline to explore; the cave is about two miles from Rosehearty. Picture below taken on another day just before a thunder storm, note the tiny white sailing boat in the centre:

stormy sky

My Books

My newest book, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, featuring another local cave at Cullykhan, releases on the 21st of September 2022. Kindle pre-order is live now.

new novel from Ailish Sinclair

All my books are available in paperback and kindle and can be seen on my Amazon Author Page

Ailish Sinclair

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A Loch Through the Seasons: mist, sunsets and snow

loch at sunset
misty Aberdeenshire loch

Clouds of mist swirl over the surface of the loch.

The picture above was taken after an unexpectedly hot day led to unexpectedly beautiful conditions. Well, not completely unexpected. It’s always beautiful, always different.

Summer Loch

Summer brings lush green foliage and colour to the loch*. It’s not very deep so swimming can be warm, though muddy.

summer Aberdeenshire loch

Autumn

That glassy ‘stand and stare’ stillness can happen at any time of year, but it most commonly occurs in Autumn. Sunsets are pink, silver or even purple. Whatever the sky is doing is intensified in reflection.

sunset

The Loch in Winter

Scottish winters are fierce. One year layer upon layer of ice and snow built up so thick that people and dogs ran about on top of the loch. I watched a fox run right across from one side to the other. It was at once surreal and yet so very real, unconnected from civilisation as it feels up there in the woods. No TV, no computers, just life and joy and fun on a natural huge flat screen among the trees.

snowy Aberdeenshire loch

I hope I will be well enough to walk up there soon. And what will await? A liquid mirror? Slow moving ripples? The slightest change in airflow is made visible by water. If there’s blue in the sky, there will be blue in the loch. Maybe there’ll be whooping swans with their yellow beaks, or an otter leaping about on the banks. I love the sound of otters giggling in the evening… I miss it.

whooper swans flying up from the loch
Whooper swans over the loch

* I freely admit to having overused the word ‘loch’ in this post. The word ‘lake’ is not a suitable substitute. If you don’t come from Scotland you can have no idea how very wrong that notion is. And while we’re at it, let’s make sure you’re saying/thinking the word right. The ‘ch’ sound is like a Scottish wildcat (something I once saw up by the large expanse of water, but no one believes me) hissing in the back of your throat. There you are, got it.

fun on the loch
Boating days…

The books:

Ailish's books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

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

And coming soon…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. More…

Writing Update

I am back editing the manuscript now. My poor characters have moved on from the battle scene at last! Though the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ springs to mind…

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The Lost City of Lenabo Woods in Aberdeenshire

Demolished building in Lenabo Woods

Just like everyone else at the moment (originally posted 2020 during lockdown), I am not able to gallivant around filling my phone with pictures of interesting places. However, during my daily scroll to find #goodthings to post on Instagram and Twitter, I found photos of Lenabo Woods taken in 2017. I had meant to blog about the site back then, but didn’t get round to it.

So, take my hand, virtually, hygienically, and we’ll walk through what was once the setting of Britain’s most northerly airship base.

Lenabo Woods

Lenabo woods near Longside

RNAS Longside was active from 1916 to 1920. 1500 personnel were based at the station and the site boasted a swimming pool, a theatre, shops, a church and gas works. All of those buildings are long gone, but some things remain.

Officers' Mess in Lenabo Woods

The above wall is thought to have been part of the officers’ mess. Memorial plaque below:

Memorial plaque in Lenabo Woods

The fireplace within:

fireplace at Lenabo

Throughout the woods, remnants of various structures are to be seen, such as these airship moorings:

airship moorings at Lenabo

Buildings swept away:

remains of a WW1 building at Lenabo

Lenabo Soo

The site was known locally as RNAS Lenabo and the ships referred to as ‘Lenabo Soo’, soo being the local name for female pigs!

It’s fun to imagine the bustling community that lived at Lenabo for those four years, swimming in the pool, attending the theatre, and, of course, maintaining and operating the airships.

Well, this has been a pleasant virtual walk today (I’ll let your hand go now) and Lenabo will be a good place to explore in person again once things have calmed down.

Building remains on Lenabo Woods

Pinterest

I forgot to mention in my last post that I’ve made a Pinterest board for Fireflies and Chocolate (my next historical novel). Pinterest is a good virtual place in these times too.

Review

Thanks to Reading is my Yoga for this beautiful #bookstagram picture and review of The Mermaid and the Bear: “While the first part put an almost constant smile on my face, the second part made me cry ugly tears.”

See the whole review here and the book is now free on Kindle Unlimited.

The Mermaid and the Bear, bookstagram photo

All 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 neurodiverse 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. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

Writer’s Tip Jar