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WALK THIS WAY: An historic circuit around Glamis taking in an ancient hill fort

Alan Rowan in green hiking gear with the caption 'Walk This Way by Alan Rowan'

Glamis Castle is often regarded as the most beautiful in Scotland and its grounds are usually bustling with visitors, but with opening restrictions still in place there was an eerie stillness as I headed through the ornate gates to start my walk.

This circuit around the pretty little village and its surroundings promised a little bit of everything, from ancient history in the shape of the kirk and its saint to an ancient hill fort, to sections of woodland walking and quiet, minor roads.

With the distant castle in view at the end of the long straight, I turned off right almost immediately on the east drive which took me to a pedestrian gate and wooden steps leading down to the serene setting of the spring known as St Fergus Well.

St Fergus is the patron saint of Glamis, and he was said to have lived in a cave beside the burn. It’s believed he founded a church close to this site in the 600s, although no trace has ever been found. The church that bears his name was completed in 1792, a replacement for the first stone building consecrated in the mid-1200s.

St Fergus Well.

The path runs alongside the water to a bridge, and then into a tranquil wooded den, complete with fairy house, before emerging on to the minor road heading uphill to the busier A94. Once carefully across, I headed into the confines of wooded Hunters Hill, going right on a track rising uphill at a gentle gradient until a fork sent me back down to the water and a wooden bridge.

Bridge at the foot of Hunters Hill.

Once over the bridge, the path takes a sharp turn west. There were warning signs of forestry work but no signs of any activity. I decided to exit on to the minor road earlier rather than go too far back into the trees, just in case.

After a right turn at a junction, there was a short section of walking along the A94 before a path turned left into trees again, markers keeping me right across another road and through a series of gates all the way down to Holehill. This is the point where you can decide to truncate the route and head back round in a pleasant loop through the wood.

Denoon Law, left, the site of an ancient hill fort.

The option was to head a little further on and explore the hill fort on Denoon Law, a fine viewpoint and a surprisingly steep ascent up the grass ramparts, albeit short-lived. There were also cattle in the field, so it seemed wise to make a short diversion from the muddied track and head up through the gorse instead. The volcanic history was evident as I circled the rim around a hollow grassy centre.

I made my way back to Holehill and turned right, then left on a track, and left again at a fork into the woods. The path was clear, but it ranged from quagmire to soft, red pine needles, the rhododendron bushes providing an occasional tussle.

The den at Kirkwynd.

Eventually, it dropped to link with the inward track, and I followed a vague path down the right edge of a small plantation to reach a farm lane to emerge on the main road again. Another careful crossing took me into the home straight, past the entrance to the farm at Newhouse of Glamis and back towards the castle gates.

It was only then it clicked that the stillness I had felt when entering the castle grounds had managed to persevere for the entire walk, even when I was on the road.

A fairy tree at Glamis.

Route

1.     Walk back to Main Street from parking, turn left along to Glamis Castle entrance, go through gates on main drive.

2.     Take first turn on right (east drive) and head round to wooden gate leading down flight of wooden steps to St Fergus Well.

3.     Follow path by stream to cross bridge then through trees to emerge on minor road (Braehead) and walk uphill to junction with A94.

4.     Carefully cross road and enter tree-covered Hunters Hill, taking track sharp right going south. When track forks higher up, keep right heading down towards burn and cross by footbridge.

5.     Follow path as it swings west until reaching minor road, walk down to A94.

6.     Further down A94 take path left into woods running west above Charleston (marker posts) and continue over minor road (signed: Denoon Glen) as it bends down to reach road north of Holehill.

7.     To continue to Denoon Law, follow road south-west for 1km, turn into field through metal gate on left and climb south to hill fort summit.

8.     Return to Holehill and turn right, then left on grass track into wood, keeping left at fork, to follow path through woods until it drops to rejoin inward track.

9.     Just after track bends east, turn left, at first on vague path along right edge of treeline, then farm lane down to A94. Cross road and keep left to follow minor road east back past Newhouse of Glamis to parking.

Information

Distance: 13km/8mls

Ascent: 290m/950ft

Time: 3.5-4.5 hours

Grading: Woodland paths, farm tracks and minor roads. Care needed on crossing of busy A94. Short climb to Denoon Law (optional), suitable for most ages and abilities. Can be muddy, good footwear advised. Dogs under close control near farm livestock.

Start/finish: Parking in centre of Glamis (Grid ref: NO 385466), entry by side street from Main Street.

Map: Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 54 (Dundee & Montrose); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 381.

Tourist Information: VisitScotland, Dundee iCentre, 16 City Square, Dundee, DD1 3BG (Tel 01382 527527).

Public transport: Buses to Glamis (No 125) from Forfar-Kirriemuir.

 

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