Walk: Thornton Glen's secret castle

East Lothian | Innerwick | Short walk | ★★★

[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]

📌 Walk: Thornton Glen's secret castle ★★★
Start / finish on minor road (street parking), Crowhill, 1 mi east of Innerwick, G.R.: NT 736741 ///wheat.copper.partner

▶ 1 km / <1 mi | ▲ 30 m | ⌚ Short | Easy
Features: Thornton Glen; Innerwick Castle
Terrain: Clear paths, though muddy on lower sections. Sheer drops and unstable masonry if you explore the castle.

Route & map

Start - entrance to Thornton Glen to west - Innerwick Castle via upper path - start via lower path (with short detour south along Thornton Burn)

Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track

On our visit

Wildlife: Small birds in the glen. Wild garlic just past its best.
Weather: Sunny intervals, temperature in mid teens.

Also on this walk

📌 Innerwick Castle ★★
Off minor road at Crowhill, 1 mi east of Innerwick, G.R.: NT 735737 ///study.named.storage
Always open | Free

Anything else? If not doing the full walk, quickest access to the castle is a 10-min walk by the outward route described above.

Chronological photo guide

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

[Upper path through the glen]

[Innerwick Castle]

[Main tower]

[Vaulted cellars]

[Inside the castle]

[Thornton Burn]

[Lower path through Thornton Glen]

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