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  • Julie

Paiboll Finn walk

It was a day of showers but in the early evening the sky cleared and thanks to the earlier rain the haze lifted and you could see for miles.

View of Eaval from Paiboll Finn

I took the opportunity to go to Paiboll Finn, the stone circle near Loch Langais as I wanted to see where the sun was likely to set in relation to the stones. Also having walked up Ben Langass previously I thought the far reaching views may have been good on such a clear evening. During the short walk from Langass lodge up to the stones I was greeted with a view of a pair of Golden Eagles circling over the hill. They are a frequent sighting here and were beautiful in the evening light. I didn't have my long lens with me so only got record shots. Apparently otters can be seen on the Loch below but I always seem to end up looking skywards at the Eagles as they soar magnificently around the hill.

Golden eagle soaring over Ben Langass

As I approached the stones the Loch was a beautiful blue behind and the distinctive shape of Eaval dominated the skyline behind the stones. The mountain was bathed in sunlight and the passing clouds caused shadows to fall on its slopes as they scudded across the sky. It's a very peaceful spot. The only sounds are from the birds in the woods below and the wind.

The views from the top of Ben Langass are amazing! Panoramic views of the Lochmaddy hills to the East side and across to Eaval. On a clear evening like this you can see 180 degrees of view which includes the sea on either side of North Uist and South to the hills of South Uist. In the distance is Skye. There is something special about the site and if you were building a stone circle today it would seem like the obvious place to put it, with Ben Langass protecting it from the North, the Loch nearby, Eaval prominent in the south and the path of the rising and setting sun over the oval.

It is a fairly short walk to the top of Ben Langass. From this side it is a little steeper than the approach from the car park at Langass wood but there is an obvious path. It can be a bit boggy if you wander off the path but waterproof shoes should be adequate. If you wish to have a longer walk you can extend the walk into a circular walk by descending the other side to the wood, circumnavigating the hill, before returning to Langass Lodge.

Paiball Finn and Eaval and Loch Langass beyond

I wish we knew more about the reasons it was built and what people would have done there all those years ago. It must been a highly significant site for them. I have the hill to myself and so I stop and enjoy the view and peacefulness. I try to imagine what the people that built the circle would have done here thousands of years ago.

Paiboll Finn

On my way back down I saw the Golden eagle pair and a pair of Hen harriers soaring overhead, calling to one another. In the golden evening light a Short-eared owl hunted over the hill. I sat amongst the heather to enjoy the aerial displays before reluctantly going back to the car.

Hen harrier pair

The only information I can find is that Paiboll Finn is thought to translate as Fionn's people or Finn's tent. The stones were probably named after the legendary Gaelic hero Fionn mac Cumhaill but they are also known as the fireplace of Fionn's cauldron. They may originate from 2000 yrs BC. Arranged in more of an oval shape than a circle they measure 120 feet from east to west and 93 feet from north to south on the south side of Ben Langass. The circle is comprised of 24 stones , though not all are visible. Two have fallen over and there is a tall single stone within the oval.

Paiboll Finn is located at grid reference NF 8427 6502 57°33′52″N 7°16′57″W. It can be reached from a footpath beginning near the Langass Lodge Hotel. Alternatively, it can be reached from the footpath to Barpa Langass that starts from the A867 about five miles southwest of Lochmaddy; Barpa Langass is a 0.75-mile walk up Ben Langass from Paiboll Finn. The jagged shapes of the stones silhouetted against Loch Langass, Loch Eport, and Eaval make Paiboll Finn one of the most visited and most photographed sites on North Uist.

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