Maspie Den

Kathleen Jamie


I am here tae tell ye I never lie
at peace I am aye
caller watter jining watter
pirl an ongang
alang ma a bed of clabber
I obtemper ainly gravity
an here I come
a rinnal amang bracken, I slocken
deer drouth, I run
eident atween hazels and thrangs o rashes
until the meenit oh the meenit
I jist

skail, I just
skail ower
the skelf o stane
an I am ane
blythe spangle
i the sunshine ane
siller flash
ablow the mune and then it’s
ower sae

I splash
an haud on doon through the laigh kintra I cannae help masel
it’s back tae ma
hurl and gush but

see thon memory thon
sweet memory I cairry it
richt wi me tae the sea




Glen Vale

Malachy Tallack


In this scooped out place, this hollow in the hill, the world contracts. A tattered white ribbon arrives, fizzing as it falls. The amber plunge pool, a battered drum, drowns out all other noise. Around it, the narrow bowl of soft stone, quarried by water, has been witnessed and signed, initials engraved with knives and fingernails. The rock is carved and carved again, peeling, flaking, crumbling. Notches become pockets become smooth craters. Names are etched and then erased. The burn, continuing, carries what it can. It is an amnesia, a ruthless erosion. Only the sound and what is most solid will remain.

Woodston Burn

John Glenday


Though the farmer took it for a scar
cutting a zigzag through his land
and little better than an open drain, still

it would bring that heady reek of gorse
and primroses in their proper time,
a stonechat or two challenging the air

and the burn itself, of course, muttering
as it worked, because it understood
there are some wounds only a river can heal;

so busy enough before that final graceful
plunge back down towards the beginnings
of things; though when I say beginnings

there was only the roofless cottage,
rocks then sand, and over our shoulders
the North Sea, filling with light.


The Cauldron Linn

Robert Burns

In a letter written in 1787, Robert Burns described a visit to the Cauldron Linn:

After breakfast we made a party to go and see Cauldron Linn, a remarkable cascade in the Devon about fives miles from Harviestoun; and after spending one of the most pleasant days I ever had in my life, I returned to Stirling in the evening.

The falls that once used to be on everyone’s itinerary, are no longer marked on any maps, and they are awkward to reach because the paths are overgrown. The best approach is from Muckhart Mill, but they can also be tackled from the footpaths along the spectacular Devon Valley Railway.

Linn of Dee

Lord Byron

At the Linn of Dee the river narrows to a little over a meter in width. The channel is cut in schistose rocks and below the present falls there is a series of round pools. Downstream is a small dyke that probably marks the site of the original fall. It is possible when the water is low to step across the stream safely however it was here that young Byron caught his lame foot and was saved from a fatal fall by a companion.

In the course of one of his summer excursions up Dee-side, he had an opportunity of seeing still more of the wild beauties of the Highlands having been taken by his mother through the romantic passes that lead to Invercauld, and as far up as the small waterfall, called the Linn of Dee. Here his love of adventure had nearly cost him his life. As he was scrambling along a declivity that overhung the fall some heather caught his lame foot, and he fell. Already he was rolling downward, when the attendant luckily got hold of him, and was but just in time to save him from being killed.
Lord Byron his letters and journals by Thomas Moore

The ornamental granite bridge at the Linn of Dee was opened by Queen Victoria in I857

The Falls of Bruar

Robert Burns

In the late summer of 1787, Robert Burns set out on a tour of the Scottish Highlands. He had been invited to stay at Blair Castle, by the fourth Duke of Atholl; his lordship advised the poet to be sure to make the detour to view a local beauty spot, the necklace of falls known as Bruar Water.

Burns loved the falls, and declared later that these two or three days were the happiest of his life. He found Atholl picturesque and beautiful but was however critical of the lack of trees and shrubs. In true Burns style he wrote a poem to the Duke of Atholl, begging him to re-vegetate the treeless hillsides.

His poem with its jaunty characterisation of a highland stream provides a splendid memorial of his visit:

Would then, my noble master please
To grant my highest wishes,
He’ll shade my banks wi’ tow’ring trees
And bonie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my lord
You’ll wander on my banks,
And listen monie a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.

Excerpt of Burn’s poem ‘The humble Petition of Briar Water’

The duke took note and the larch woods for which his estates became famous were created by Duke of Atholl, who became as known as the ‘planting duke’.

Fall of Urrard

A ancient stone in the grounds of Urrard House marks, if local tradition is to be believed, the spot where Dundee received his mortal wound at the Battle of Killiecrankie. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82), the Victorian poet who almost completely lost his reason in middle life, was taken to Urrard House for a period of rest and recuperation.

Near Urrard House is the beautiful Fall of Urrard.  The fall was frequently visited by the Victorians, but has since received very little notice in guide books since Black’s Guide of 1861. It is not marked on any map, and it is a very good example of the way in which scenes which delighted the Victorians, are neglected. Today the fall is marred somewhat by a hydroelectric scheme at the side of the falls.


Falls of Falloch

Dorothy Wordsworth

At the principal fall, the water plunges over a rock lip into a basin, the main stream falling ten meters sheer. This is Rob Roy country and the basin is dubbed Rob Roy’s Bathtub. A smaller hollow, etched by a lesser arm of the stream in the wall of the basin is called Rob Roy’s Soap Dish although it is unlikely that the famous raider and cattle thief used that commodity when in these parts.

Many writers of whom Dorothy Wordsworth is perhaps the most famous, have celebrated the falls at Glen Falloch. She gives a memorable account of her walk to the falls with her brother, William, and Coleridge:

We sat down and heard, as if from the heart of the earth, the sound of torrents ascending out of the long hollow glen. To the eye all was motionless, a perfect stillness. The noise of waters did not appear to come from any particular quarter; it was everywhere, almost, one might say, as if ‘exhaled’ through the whole surface of the green earth. Glen Falloch, Coleridge has since told me, signifies the hidden vale; but William says that if we were to name it from our recollections of that time we should call it the Vale of Awful Sound.

Nowadays the falls are a notable wild swimming spot though not without danger particularly when the falls are in spate.

Spectacle E’E

The Spectacle E’e (eye) waterfalls – so named as a result of an incident involving a local man who fell in love with the miller’s daughter. The miller disapproved of the union and ended their relationship. As revenge the lad placed an eyeglass in the mill’s thatch, causing it to catch fire and the mill to be burned to the ground.

The Spectacle E’e is the most imposing fall in the basin of the Avon, it is approached from the village of Sandford, past Tweedie Mill. The Kype Water falls into the Avon at the edge of the carboniferous lavas that make up the hill country beyond Strathaven and forms a series of picturesque falls culminating in a fall of fifteen meters.

The Hermitage Falls

William Wordsworth

The principal feature of interest beside the falls on the river Braan below Rumbling Bridge, is the Summer House called Ossian’s Hall.

Opposite the entrance is a picture of Ossian playing upon his harp and singing songs of other times. The sides and ceiling of this inner apartment are lined with mirrors that reflect the waterfall under a variety of aspects. Many famous visitors have commented on this feature, most with praise but Wordsworth was more critical;

The mirrors afford various reflections of the whitened volume of water, as it pours down the cataract; like smoke, like flame, like boiling oil. This is a conceit of which the contriver was probably very proud, but, I must confess, that I could not help considering it with sentiments other than those of admiration.

There are wonderful woodland walks along the banks, with sycamore, oak and beech but the chief glory of this wood is a Douglas Fir which is reputed to be the tallest tree in Britain.

error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!