A pleasant walk up the delightful Maspie Den to reach the Maiden Castle iron age hill fort site near Craigmead, followed by a more challenging descent over moorland and forest passing the Tyndall Bruce monument. If the cloud level is low, navigation skills will be required after leaving the Maiden Castle.
Distance: 8 km / 5 miles
Ascent: 300m / 1000 feet
Start / finish: Falkland Estate
Facilities: parking at the Stables (voluntary donation), cafe at the Stables, toilets at Craigmead, full range of services in Falkland.
Other walks in the area: East Lomond and the Maspie Den
Start the walk from the Stables car park on the Falkland Estate (NO 247 074) KY15 7AF. There is a request for donations for using the car park.
The walk starts immediately opposite the car park at a pond. Follow the path through the gate towards the Crichton Stuart Memorial Chapel where you can either walk through the chapel ground or bypass it. Beyond the chapel the path across fields is marked with yellow marker posts. Follow the path into the woods behind Falkland House, now a special needs school. The woodland path initially follows the Mill Burn and you should stay close to the burn, ignoring side tracks, until the path starts to go downhill at a marker post.
You will soon reach the Maspie Burn, one of the highlight features of this walk. Cross the burn on a stone bridge and turn left. At the stone marker keep left so that you go under a stone road bridge on a wooden footbridge. Follow the path upstream frequently crossing the burn on wooden bridges. This section of the walk can be a bit slippy when the ground is wet and there are rocky steps to negotiate so wear sensible footwear. There are wooden benches from time to time if you want to stop and enjoy the tumbling waterfalls.
Eventually you will reach the Maspie Den’s best known feature, the Yad Waterfall where you can walk behind the fall. Cross the burn at the fall and proceed up the path on the opposite side to join a higher level path.
Turn left on this path and keep to the main path as it takes you uphill towards the Craigmead car park. As you approach the car park you will pass through a deer gate into the Coalpit Den woodland. At the next gate turn right, either on the landrover track before the gate or on the grassy track after the gate (with red marker post). Both routes will converge. At this point you can make a detour through the green gate to the Craigmead car park with its picnic tables and toilets.
If you are on the grassy track look out for a gate on your right through the stone wall to rejoin the landrover track. Once back on the landrover track cross the broken wall opposite at a convenient point out on to the open moorland. You should be able to pick up a rough track to make negotiating the tussocks easier, but if not, keep to the right of the high ground. Aim towards the forest corner and an old wall. From this point head north west to reach the grassy hummock of Maiden Castle.
Beyond the Maiden Castle the path continues across the moorland to reach a stand of three larch trees. If you can’t find the path, aim for the three trees. Once past the trees the path is a bit feinter although it is still there in places. If in doubt aim for the corner of the forest ahead of you.
At the forest corner, go through a gate into the trees and follow a firebreak in an easterly direction. Fallen trees obstruct the direct route but if you keep to the left of the firebreak you should be able to pick up a bit of a path where people have walked. After about 200m turn left (north) to follow a firebreak that crosses your path. At the end of the firebreak the ground drops away steeply to a forest track and the Tyndall Bruce Monument. At this point it is probably best to turn right and follow a rough path across the top of the steep ground for an easier descent to the forest track rather than tackling the direct route. When you reach the track, turn left to walk back towards the monument.
After leaving the monument return initally in the direction you came from until you reach a junction with a red marker post. Keep left at this junction to reach another junction where you also keep left (the marker post at this second junction points right). When you reach a further junction, go right, off the track on to a well constructed surfaced mountain bike track. Keep on this track which runs roughly parallel to the forest track and follow its twists and turns down the hill. Ignore side tracks and keep going downhill until you reach the farm steading at Westfield.
Turn right at the buildings and then immediately turn right again onto another track which takes you back to the Maspie Burn at a stone bridge. Turn left at the signpost before the bridge. If you look back, you will see that this is the bridge that you went under on a footbridge earlier in the walk. Keep to the left hand side of the burn (don’t follow the rock sign for the Stables) and you will reach yet another feature of the Maspie Den. The tunnel ahead of you can be bypassed by keeping left and walking over it if you are not keen on dark tunnels. Although short, the tunnel does curve in the middle so you cannot see all the way through it.
After emerging from the tunnel you will pass under another stone road bridge with a double arch structure before the path crosses a stone footbridge to reach Falkland House. From here the route back to the car park is fairly obvious but if you want to avoid a stretch of tarmac walking then keep right at the Y junction but don’t go up the steps. The path will take you through the woodland parallel to the road for a while. When it joins the road turn right and then turn left over a bridge towards the cricket ground. Immediately go right on a path beside the burn. Keep to the north side of the burn until you approach the car park where there is a bridge to get you back to the other side.
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View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.
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