Black Loch and the Eye

5.6 miles 238m ascent 2h 5mins

Having driven in drizzle along the Queen’s Way we parked up opposite the wild goat park on Craigdews Hill. The weather was threatening to rain though it held off for a while.

I’ve driven past the wild goat park here several times and have never seen any goats. I mentioned this as we walked from the car and Andy immediately pointed out three goats. I wonder if this means the goats have always been there but I have just never noticed them?

A short walk along the main road, watched over by the billy goats gruff, led us left up a white stoned track to the Tonderghie Burn with a deer park on our right and goat park on the left. At the top the track turned left and we came to the wee Black Loch and our first glimpse of the Eye, which from a distance looks like an upended giant carrot. Closer inspection shows it is made of, or at least covered in, small red tiles. There is also a small cylindrical hole passing through it, but it doesn’t seem to look towards anything in particular. Perhaps it looks towards something in the night sky?

We joined the old Edinburgh road for a short spell during which the threatened rain came upon us. I wished I had carried some waterproof trousers instead of just my jacket, but my companions were better equipped. A little before crossing the Grey Mare’s Tale Burn we turned left and passed through a stone walled sheep pen with carved faces amongst the rocks of the walls. I believe this is called The Quorum.

From there we headed down alongside the burn. The waterfall was in full flow and much louder than the last time I visited it. Wading through chest high water-laden fern, to get photos of the waterfall, ensured I paid the price of wet trousers. I still wonder though if it better to be stifling and damp in waterproof trousers or just plain wet.

Then uphill again to the large monument to Alexander Murray on Wee Doon. I find that photos don’t capture how big this thing actually is, but one of the photos in the gallery has Elaine near the monument and gives some impression of its size.

There is another path which leads down the back of Wee Doon and alternates between a barely discernible track and metre wide prepared path. This joins the path down from the Old Edinburgh Road and presumably is part of the way-marked brown route. This took us down another path to cross the Queen’s Way and follow a forestry track to a bridge across the Palnure Burn. Here we found a very steep descent marked as an MTB route and wheel marks on an almost vertical rock face. If you look at the picture of this, do you think it looks like the face of a cow? You will see in the gallery a photo of an emergency information post which was immediately opposite this.

We then followed the track running parallel to the Palnure Burn below an area marked on the OS Map as Sleekit Knowes. And sleekit it was. The path which should have taken us to Dunkitterick cottage, according to my map reading, just ended at a stand of trees. The wood itself was not easily passable and the ground around it had no sign of a path. Had I missed the ruined cottage? PS you can see the path on google earth!

We walked back a little way to see if we had missed the path but once we were out of the woods the car park was visible and it was obvious that the ruin was further on. The choice was walk back to the bridge and back along the road which would be 2.5 miles or press on over the rough ground for the shorter route.

Of course we pressed on and in next to no time the cottage was visible. One small problem was a burn between us and it which was too wide to jump. Then we found a big rock in the middle of it. The rock looked dry without any moss. I went for it and was across. Elaine was not so lucky. Something happened as she stepped from the middle rock and she lost her contest with gravity. In retrospect I wonder if Elaine’s error was to throw her “lucky” jacket across to me. She should have worn it. Luckily no bones were broken, and her mobile survived. The abrasions looked sore and I imagine there will be some aching tomorrow. I don’t remember Andy crossing, but there he was, on our side. Presumably he teleported or something and then erased it from our memories.

The remains of Dunkitterick cottage, birthplace of the aforementioned Alexander Murray, were just a few yards away and from there it was all downhill so to speak. The path ran back to the burn that had tried to trip Elaine, though down here it was about one inch deep. Next time we’ll know what to do.

The path led us to the Palnure burn and along this section was a little waterlogged but it soon led us to the footbridge, and back to the car for some dry clothes. Coffee and cake at Clatteringshaws visitor centre (courtesy of Andy) rounded off the outing, and as we drove back home the weather had become annoyingly nice.

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