There’s no question about it: Scotland is a utopia for walkers. Come rain or shine, sleet or snow, intrepid folk take to the country’s illustrious countryside to bask in its irresistible scenery. For November’s walk of the month, we’re crossing the border and taking a stroll around one of Scotland’s most romantic castles: Caerlaverock.
Built in the 13th century, Caerlaverock has withstood centuries of hardship and turbulence. Demolished on a number of occasions by English and Scottish forces, the castle prevailed, and its preservation is quite extraordinary. This imposing keep overlooks the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve, where this month’s walk begins.
Those tackling this 3km walk in the winter months should beware variable weather conditions as well as often extremely muddy terrain. Ascents however, aren’t strenuous, and overall the walk should take no more than one hour to complete.
Park on the B725 (designated parking is available for a limited number of vehicles) before crossing the wooden walkway signposted Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve. This short path leads to the mudflats synonymous with the reserve, where Norwegian barnacle geese can often be seen grazing in the winter months.
Take the path running between the mudflats and Castle Wood. Soon the path will branch left, passing through Castle Wood itself. Eventually you’ll come to footbridge; cross this, taking care on particularly muddy sections on the opposite side. Soon you will come to a track which passes several houses; stay on course and you will come to one of the northern towers of Caerlaverock, thought to be one of earliest stone-built fortifications in Scotland. Sadly, only its foundations remain.
To enter the castle you must pay an admission fee, but if you’d rather not, continue along the track. Several hundred yards on, you’ll be greeted with superb views of Caerlaverock’s imposing, ruined keep. The castle is triangular in shape and lies at the centre of a wide moat, making it a daunting prospect for the approaching invader.
Continue along this track, taking in the wide vistas rolling out before you, and eventually you will come upon Caerlaverock’s visitor centre. Here, you can pay to enter the castle grounds for a closer look, or continue along the path and out the main gate. Before you leave, why not stop for a warming brew in the on-site café, or take a moment to investigate the castle’s replica trebuchet, once used to devastating effect.
Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.
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