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Glen Mark, Queen's Well, Mount Keen, Balmoon's Cave, Invermark, Scotland
[24.3 km] Thu 10 Sep 2015

OS Grid Ref: NO 44669 80375
Lat/Long: 56.911380, -02.910288

It was still dark when I woke at 5 a.m. and after a quick coffee and some breakfast I set off along the road and up to the right to pass the House of Mark. The track continued in a northwest Direction up Glen Mark. It was now coming light but unfortunately still overcast with cloud. After 2 miles I could see the Queen’s Well Monument ahead which is a stone structure erected in 1866 to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria as she passed on one of her tours.

Glen Mark

Queen’s Well in Glen Mark

Queen’s Well

It is an interesting well as the water issues from an artesian spring in the middle of a flat grassy area. It is topped with a crown shaped structure of stone.

Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert purchased Balmoral Castle and frequently travelling the mountain trails. In 1861 they rode the 15 miles (24 km) from Balmoral to Glen Mark and met with Lord Dalhousie beside an artesian well. Here they were refreshed by the spring water before continuing to Invermark Lodge where they stayed overnight. To commemorate the visit Lord Dalhousie erected this monument in the shape of a royal crown over the well.

Queen’s Well

Queen’s Well


Marked on the stone is:

“Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, and his Royal Highness the Prince Consort, visited this well and drank of its refreshing waters, on the 20th September, 1861, the year of Her Majesty's great sorrow,” The sorrow bit is presumably referring to Albert’s death.


I left the spring to continue up the Glen to the isolated building of Glenmark which was empty but is available for rent as a holiday cottage. The track was now a vehicle track for the shooting parties.

Glenmark interior

I followed it up past Couternach and above ladder Burn. Up a zigzag section onto the high Moor I reached the shooting butts. I left the vehicle track to follow a very well stoned pass which soon entered cloud. I continued to the summit of Mount Keen but couldn't see anything other than the track ahead. Before the summit was a boundary stone with a letter ‘B’ incised into it.

Bounday marker

The summit of Mount keen at 939 meters was a boulder tangle of rocks with a trig post on the summit. It was now quite cold at 5 degrees C and I cold south east wind blowing. I didn't stay long but managed to get a signal to check my phone.

Mount keen at 939 meters

The return was just a case of following my access route but on the way down I wanted to check the location of a cave shown on the map. As I descended I saw some vehicles coming up the track. They drove slowly bye on the rough track and I even got a wave from the drivers and some of the occupants.

Vehicles coming up the track

Before reaching the isolated building of Glenmark I cut off the track and headed across open heather to descend to the Water of Mark to a Ford shown on the map. There weren't sufficient boulders to get across so I took my boots off and waded.

Ruin above Water of Mark

I then walked another mile west and up the Glen to the site of Balnamoon’s Cave which is mentioned on a guide board farther down the Glen. I spent about an hour trying to find the cave based on the information on the board. It turned out to the incorrect and I found the cave to the south east of the water fall and not south as indicated. The cave was used after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.


After checking the interior I returned down the Glen and kept by the river managing to cross higher up than the ford where boulders were available to hop over. I returned to Queen’s Well and then reverse my route along Glen Mark and back to the car at the car park.

Balnamoon’s Cave interior

The link below gives a very good history of the cave:
On April 16, 1746, the Royal army, led by the Duke of Cumberland, famously defeated the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden. Defeat ended the rebellious uprising and leading Jacobites who survived the carnage fled. With vengeful English government troops hot on their heels, some, like their leader Bonnie Prince Charlie, set sail for Europe while others were dispersed to the American colonies. There were those, however, who stayed loyal to their roots and went to ground in Scotland. Among them was James Carnegy, the 6th Earl of Balnamoon.
Carnegy needed a more secure bolthole; a place where he could lie low and no one would ever find him. Searching the remote upper reaches of Glen Mark he discovered his safe haven in the form of a tiny cave.
With Red Coats hunting high and low for him, Invermark offered only temporary reprieve. Carnegy needed a more secure bolthole; a place where he could lie low and no one would ever find him. Searching the remote upper reaches of Glen Mark he discovered his safe haven in the form of a tiny cave.

Lying part way up a slope littered with rocks and boulders, Carnegy set about making the hideaway habitable. He built up the front using rough stone and moss, leaving the narrowest of entrances. Today it is all but impossible to spot.

During his time on the run, the fugitive split his time between the cave and Invermark Castle. Local people loyal to him brought food and warned him when Red Coats were in the area. Despite the offer of a sizeable reward for information leading to his capture, they never betrayed him.

However, it was only a matter of time before he was cornered. A local Presbyterian minister heard word of his presence in Glen Mark and passed the information on to the government. The Argyll Highlanders were sent in to rout him out and, after a year hiding out, Carnegy was finally captured and taken to London for trial.
When he married in 1745 he had added his wife’s surname and territorial designation of Arbuthnott of Findowrie to his own name, becoming James Carnegy-Arbuthnott. This led to confusion over his identity and the trial came to a swift halt. Carnegy was pardoned and released in 1748. After many months on the run he was able to return to Balnamoon and Findowrie, a free man.