Walk: Yester Castle & the Goblin Ha'

East Lothian | Gifford | Short walk | ★★

[Goblin Ha']

Wrap up warm on a trip to Yester Castle, because there's a strange chill in the air! Hidden away in a wooded estate near Gifford, East Lothian, this fairly substantial ruin was built sometime before 1267 by Hugo de Gifford, grandson of the 1st Laird of Yester. His architectural creation was so fine that magic was believed to be involved: de Gifford was said to be a necromancer, raising an army of hobgoblins to do his will via a pact with the Devil. Where better than a subterranean vault to practise this sorcery? Downhill to the rear of the main structure, intrepid explorers will indeed discover a tunnel to the Goblin's Ha', miraculously intact while the rest of the castle crumbles. From here, in near total darkness, a futher flight of stairs descends deep into the bedrock - a gateway to the underworld, perhaps? More likely it served as the castle's water supply, but you never know. There are several possible routes to the castle, including from Gifford village (reportedly with some access issues in the past) and from the south (where permission would be required to park at the golf club). We suggest a straightforward but memorably muddy route from the east - wellies recommended!

[Passage to the underworld?]

📌 Walk: Yester Castle & the Goblin Ha' ★★
Space for 1 or 2 cars to park at track junction (don't block access) at Danskine Lodge, B6355 2 mi east of Gifford, G.R.: NT 566674 ///rises.older.creatures

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 100 m | ⌚ Short | Easy
Features: Yester Castle & Goblin Ha'
Terrain: Woodland paths and tracks, but extremely muddy in places. Route finding near the castle is a little complicated - O.S. map advised. Care required around the unmaintained castle ruins.

Route & map

Start - track along Gifford Water until just before Hopes Burn - Shank Lea Wood - descending path to right - continue ahead until bridge across Hopes Water on right (cross) - Yester Castle & Goblin Ha' - return by outward route


Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track

On our visit

Wildlife: Grey squirrels, woodpigeons, small birds.
Weather: Cloudy with temperature in high teens, feeling close.

Also on this walk

📌 Yester Castle & Goblin Ha' ★★★
Above Hopes Water 2 mi southeast of Gifford, G.R.: NT 556666 ///armful.squres.trembles
Always open | Free

Anything else? A torch is useful for seeing inside Goblin Ha'.

Chronological photo guide

[Forest track]

[Mud galore!]

[More mud]

[Waterfall on the Gifford Water]

[Bridge over the Gifford Water]

[Paths improve after leaving the Gifford Water]

[Yester Castle]

[Yester Castle]

[Yester Castle - the window of the Goblin Ha' is ahead, and its entrance round the back]

[Goblin Ha']

[Passage to the underworld?]

[Looking back up the passage]

[Entrance to Goblin Ha']

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