Habbie's Howe

Time – 60 minutes Distance – 5 km/3 miles

NOTE THAT THE BRIG AT KITLEYKNOWE IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED DUE TO INSTABILITY – ACCESS TO THE ROUTE CAN BE GAINED VIA ADJACENT FIELDS A fascinating, short and easy walk in Allan Ramsay’s ‘Gentle Shepherd’ territory, with much of interest to see, featuring the beautiful gorge known as Habbie’s Howe, a waterfall, woodland, a winding river and much more. Note that the path through Habbie’s Howe is not a right of way and is part of the Newhall Estate, although the intention is that the route will form part of the new North Esk Way. However, you should be able to exercise your access rights responsibly here with no difficulty. The path is mostly level but can be very muddy in places. The sections down into the gorge and back out again are steep and care should be taken particularly on the steps going down. Where the route crosses bridges over the North Esk river, note that one is quite high above the water and may not be good for those not keen on heights. Note that as of February 2018, the Bridge at Kitleyknowe has been closed a it is deemed unsafe – an alternative route may be found across the adjacent field.

Route: Start/Finish – Carlops village

Park in the car park opposite the Carlops Village centre and under the rock. At the exit to the car park turn left towards West Linton then immediately left into the field and walk round behind the stone barn. Follow the cinder path across the field and over the footbridge then ahead up the road [1] towards Kitleyknowe. At the top of the lane, just where the road turns 90 degrees right up the hill, turn left [2] between the stone obelisks (signposted ‘Amazondean’) and cross over the Kitleyknowe Brig (as at February 2018, the Bridge is deemed unsafe and has closed – an alternative route may be found across the adjacent field). Follow the footpath along the line of trees up towards the woods ahead.

After 300m, just at the point where the field to your right meets the woods, you’ll find to your right a place to step over the fence [3] using two large rocks. This is easy to miss – if you reach a metal gate and a 3-way signpost, you’ve gone too far!

Follow the path into the woods, close to the edge of the field to your right for a while before bearing off into the trees. Follow the path east, which runs along Turtle Bank, the top of the south side of Habbie’s Howe, this being the gorge through which the North Esk river runs. Continue through the woods for 1 km or so, with views to the right of the rocky outcrop of Harbour Craig, and of Newhall House on the opposite side of the gorge.The path descends down via steps into Habbie’s Howe, [4] doubling back on itself. Keeping to the same south side of the river, follow it upstream. Along the way, there is much to see. Habbie’s Howe is the setting for much of Allan Ramsay’s ‘Gentle Shepherd’, and there is an excerpt from it carved into a stone panel 200m or so [5] from the bottom of the steps. It refers to the ‘flowerie howm’ on the opposite bank, as well as features such as Peggy’s Pool with its waterfall. Look out for Sandy Cave [6] a little further along.

As the path approaches Peggy’s Pool, it turns right [7] over a bridge onto the north bank and starts to climb back up the side of the gorge, until a further bridge is seen, some height above the water. Arriving at this top bridge, there is a choice of track. One, a short spur, continues on to Peggy’s Pool [8], visible ahead. The other crosses the bridge back to south bank. This is the way back to Carlops, climbing up the slope and doubling back on itself (this point is the best place to scramble down to the top of the waterfall). Turn right at the top and head back through the woods to the point at which you crossed the fence. Retrace your steps from here back to Kitleyknowe and Carlops

habbies howe
habbies howe