Walk: Queen's Well & an expedition to Balnamoon's Cave
|[Glen Mark from near Balnamoon's Cave]|
This linear but interesting walk amidst the wonderful Angus glens visits Glen Mark's worst and best kept secrets. The Queen's Well is a popular landmark: a stone well built at a spring to commemorate Queen Victoria's passing through in 1861. Invermark Castle is also just off-route near the start - worth a look too. So far, so easy - but reaching Balnamoon's Cave is a more challenging prospect. Three potentially tricky burn crossings, some pathless terrain and two miles later, you'll hopefully arrive in the area where the cave is vaguely marked on OS maps. Now you just need to find the actual cave where Lord Balnamoon successfully hid from the English for a whole year - a tiny entrance amongst bouldery mountainside. Good luck! Perhaps worth taking a copy of the foolproof instructions at the bottom of this post...
Name: Walk: Queen's Well & an expedition to Balnamoon's Cave ★★★☆☆
Length: 14 km / 9 miles
Ascent: 170 metres
Points of interest: Invermark Castle; Queen's Well; Burn of Doune waterfall; Balnamoon's Cave; Water of Mark waterfalls
Start / finish: Car park near Glen Esk minor road end, about four miles west of Tarfside, G.R.: NO 447804 / clattered hoofs blazed
Route: Start - Invermark Castle - Queen's Well - Burn of Doune waterfall - Balnamoon's Cave and Water of Mark waterfalls - return by outward route. Section beyond Burn of Doune waterfall described in detail below.
Terrain: Good track to just beyond Queen's Well. Three potentially difficult burn crossings follow (no bridges) - not passable during high water levels. There is a faint path most of the way to Balnamoon's Cave, intermittent and rocky in places.
Wildlife today: Red deer, guinea fowl and white rabbits (!) around Invermark; sheep.
Weather today: Blue sky to the southeast, overcast to the northwest. Dry; a bit windy.
>> see Glen Esk post for Invermark Castle ★★☆☆☆
|[Upper of the Water of Mark waterfalls around Balnamoon's Cave]|
Step by step guide
Intro: Most difficulties in locating the cave come from pinpointing it accurately on OS maps in the first place. The 1:25000 scale maps don't show the cave clearly - it's marked as a black circle, unhelpfully identical to the numerous other circles marking all the other rock features in the area. However, 1:50000 maps don't show the other features, clearly identifying the cave at G.R.: NO 396833. The instructions below start after crossing the Burn of Doune below its waterfall. Continues below photo >>
Continue up Glen Mark along the northern side of its flood plain for about 300 metres. As soon as the burn bends directly west (looking upstream), follow its bank more closely. Very soon a section of rapids in a little gorge should be visible ahead.
If safe to do so, cross the burn below the gorge on boulders, then continue upstream, this time following the south bank past lovely water-sculpted sections of river.
After a few hundred metres, you should reach a grassy plain devoid of heather, with a large boulder sitting near the bottom (see above). You're now directly below the cave. Look up the slopes (south) from the boulder - you should be able to make out the cave amongst the heather and jumble of rocks above, with evidence of the entrance having been "bricked up" at the sides to make it narrower.
You probably won't want to stay very long in the cramped interior (its history is more interesting than the cave itself). Before heading back the way you came, continue upstream a further few hundred metres to enjoy the rapids and waterfalls just beyond here.
|[Spoilers! Balnamoon's Cave]|
Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track