Travel Challenge: Lichens on an old stone wall

There are many, many old stone walls in Scotland. All were built by hand, each stone being carefully selected and placed to maintain the strength and stability of the wall. The most amazing walls I saw while cycling in this lovely country stretched to the top of steep hills. Often these walls seemed to be more vertical than horizontal.

However, the day that I cycled past these incredible structures, the weather was not conducive to taking photos – it ranged from hail to buffeting wind and intermittent rain. So no photos of those!

A close up view of the mosses and lichens on the wall.

A close up view of the mosses and lichens on the wall.

What I do have though, is a series of photos of what I think is the most beautiful wall I have ever seen. Up close, each section is a mini garden, with mosses and lichens growing vigorously on the rock surfaces, creating lovely green on grey colours.

Beautifully cut and arranged stones.

Beautifully cut and arranged stones.

I don’t know how old this wall is, but lichens are very slow growing, so it would be fairly old. It is unusual, because of two things. The first is that the lower section has been rendered in some places – perhaps where it has been repaired? Rendering is not typical of the dry stone walls that one sees in this part of Scotland. (The photo below shows some sections that have not been rendered – these may be the original wall.) The second unusual feature is the decoration along the top. Someone went to a lot of trouble to cut and shape a lot of stone to make the pattern that you can see in the photos.

The wall from a distance. It went for a long way down this road.

The wall from a distance. It went for a long way down this road.

This is not a short wall. It paralleled the road for a long way. All along its length, it was in the well cared-for condition that is evident above. If anyone is travelling in the Scottish Highlands on the southern side of Loch Tay, you will not doubt pass by this wall. Be sure to look at the other side of the road too, because there you will find an ancient stone circle to explore! The latter is very old and would have been there long before the wall was built!

Ancient stone circle - near that lovely wall.

Ancient stone circle – near that lovely wall.

I have an entire post on this amazing stone circle. If you are interested, you can read more and see a diagram of the stone layout by going to the section on the Scottish Highlands – Stone circles.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Travel Challenge – Walls, which was posted by Ailsa, at Where’s my backpack.

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16 Responses to Travel Challenge: Lichens on an old stone wall

  1. Sas says:

    It looks like a row of soldiers lined up ready for battle! One of the things I love about stone walls is that, when you are building one, once you pick up a stone you have to find a place for it and you’re not allowed to put it down again and choose another stone.

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    • Madoqua says:

      There are rules for making stone walls?? 🙂
      That particular one would make a challenging job even more difficult!

      It does look like a row of soldiers – I had not thought of them like that!

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      • Sas says:

        There’s a lot of cultural traditions surrounding dry stone walls. I know a little bit about them because there are lots where I grew up in Lancashire. It’s an artform, and very difficult to do properly 🙂

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        • Madoqua says:

          Sas, that is so interesting. I have done a bit of bricklaying, but that is with nicely shaped bricks – using stones (especially with no mortar) would certainly be highly specialized.
          We did come across a fellow who was building a stone wall on our travels, but unfortunately did not have the time to stop and chat with him.

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  2. adinparadise says:

    Such lovely photos, Madoqua. Those walls are timeless and so beautiful.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Thanks Ad. I would love to have something like that in my garden, but where we live is too hot and dry. So I will have to keep going back to Scotland to enjoy them!

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  3. pommepal says:

    It would have to be a very wet climate to grow such beautiful moss. What a work of art

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  4. Helen says:

    I’ve seen some some walls in South Australia, probably build by settlers from Scotland or the Dales, but nothing as interesting as you have photographed.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Helen, it is so good that we have some of these lovely walls in Australia. They must be a rarity though. They would certainly be nicer than the wire fences we have everywhere!

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  5. KnitNell says:

    BTW there is a Lichen society in Britain as many types of Lichen are Protected and others much loved. See http://www.britishlichensociety.org.uk . There is a lovely page on Lichen in churchyards.

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    • Madoqua says:

      A Lichen Society! I am very impressed! They are such amazing ‘plants’ and to have them protected is wonderful. I will certainly check out the website – thanks for that!

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  6. Tahira says:

    Love this! And I love Scotland!

    Like

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