Walk: Thornton Glen's secret castle

[Innerwick Castle]

Thornton Glen is the steep-sided gorge through which the Thornton Burn flows, a couple of miles before meeting the sea at Thorntonloch Beach. The valley is a designated nature reserve due to its rich flora and fauna, with broadleaved woodland, dense carpets of wild garlic and plentiful bird life. But the most exciting part of this short circuit is actually of human construction. Innerwick Castle lies towards the south end of the reserve, built in the 15th or 16th century on a sandstone bluff overlooking the ravine. Signs warn visitors to keep out, but if you do venture (carefully) beyond the warnings you'll discover a fascinatingly complex ruin where nature and brickwork have long since intertwined, creating a magical maze of hidden corners, passageways and viewpoints. While the steep terrain creates some unprotected sheer drops, it also enables the visitor to view the castle from all angles: in front, behind, above, below, and within.

[Lower path through Thornton Glen]

Name: Walk: Thornton Glen's secret castle ★★★☆☆
Length: 1 km / <1 mile
Ascent: 30 metres
Points of interest: Thornton Glen; Innerwick Castle
Start / finish: Street parking on minor road, Crowhill, G.R.: NT 736741 ///wheat.copper.partner

Route: Start - entrance to Thornton Glen to west - Innerwick Castle via upper path - start via lower path (with short detour south along Thornton Burn)
Terrain: Clear paths, though muddy on lower sections. Sheer drops and unstable masonry if you explore the castle.
Wildlife today: Small birds in the glen. Wild garlic just past its best.
Weather today: Sunny intervals, temperature in mid-teens.

[Inside the castle]

Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track

[Main tower]

[Vaulted cellars]

[Thornton Burn]

[Upper path through the glen]

[The entrance to the glen and nature reserve is easy to miss]

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