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Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave


Postby andrew11 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:35 pm

Route description: Mount Keen from Glen Esk

Munros included on this walk: Mount Keen

Date walked: 24/10/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 700m

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My son in law Angus and I took bikes from the car park at Invermark as far as Glenmark House. It is an easy track although we were working hard against a head wind. We stopped at the Queen's well and enjoyed the refreshing water (which did us no harm).
1well.JPG
A welcome break!

We decided to go to Mount Keen first so left the bikes at the house and headed up the track.

So far the weather had been sunny, windy and cold but as we got higher up the hill it clouded over and it was blowing a gale as we got near the summit. There were several people coming down from the hill as we were ascending and they all commented on how strong the wind was!

Above about 700m there was snow on the ground and this was drifting in the wind and made the going slower than it would otherwise have been. The wind was in our faces but we pushed on to the top easily enough.
2angus.JPG
A sense of achievement!
3mekeen.JPG

We found shelter in the cairn and had a welcome cuppy and piece, but as soon as we stopped we started to feel the cold and the wind chill was dramatic as you soon found out when you took off gloves to take a photo, so we didn't stop for long. We were in the mirk anyway with only snatches of the view coming and going so we set off back down the hill. Now the wind was on our backs so the going was much easier and as the mist cleared we had some great views.
4angus2.JPG
On way down.
A group of 12 ptarmagan were in front of us half way to their winter plumage. They had little fear and did not take off until we were about 10 yards from them. A great sight.
When we got to the junction with the Mounth Road we headed west as we were intending to go back by Balnamoon's cave. We skirted the top of the Knowe of Crippley and followed down the Burn of Doune crossing over it at about 393850. While doing this a driving blizzard came on but did not last long. We came down the steep bank to the West of the Craig of Doune. This was not a pleasant descent as it was very loose grass and scree, but we managed it without too much problem. The Water of Mark was the next obstacle and it was pretty full from recent rain but we surprised ourselves by managing to cross more or less dry of foot.
5angus3.JPG
You can do it!


Our next objective was to find the cave which I had failed to do on a previous visit. This time I was armed with a gps coordinate. We got to the gps location and found a small hollow under massive fallen blocks which we managed to crawl into. It would be enough to shelter a man and provide excellent hiding and views down the glen of approaching redcoats!
6cave1.JPG
9incave.JPG

Can anyone confirm if this is indeed Balnamoon's cave? I have my doubts.

After enjoying the area around the cave (great views and waterfalls) we headed down the Water of Mark and soon picked upthe rough track along its southern bank. We had to cross to the other side in order to pick up the bikes from the house.
This time both of us got wet feet but we weren't too worried as it wouldn't be long till we were back to the car and able to change. And so it proved as the wind was now on our backs as we enjoyed a whizz down the track to the car park.

All in all a great day out!!
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andrew11
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby mountain coward » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:40 pm

Well I never knew there was a cave up Glen Mark! As soon as I read the start of your post though, I guessed that's where it would be. Must go back and have a look sometime :D Don't see why it shouldn't be the right cave
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby rambler » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:58 am

andrew11 wrote:We stopped at the Queen's well and enjoyed the refreshing water (which did us no harm).


Hmm :think: I was there recently and although the water looked very clear I wouldn't fancy trying it. :thumbdown: :lol:

andrew11 wrote: Can anyone confirm if this is indeed Balnamoon's cave? I have my doubts.


Don't know, but there is a picture of it in this report and a link to another picture on wikipedia - might help you to make up your mind.
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby malky_c » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:00 am

I liked that. I've been up Mount Keen from that direction a couple of times, but never explored in that valley. Having been down by Loch Lee since then, I've realised there are a lot of interesting crags and waterfalls in the area - probably deserves another visit sometime 8)

Looking at the Wikipedia link via the other report, the entrance looks a bit different to the one in your photos.
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby andrew11 » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:22 pm

rambler wrote "although the water looked very clear I wouldn't fancy trying it."

I don't think there's a problem, rambler. As the water is constantly flowing and anything dissolving into it from coins or falling into it will soon be carried away.

The only time I don't drink water on the hill is if there is a high concentration of sheep droppings about.
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby rambler » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:31 pm

andrew11 wrote:As the water is constantly flowing and anything dissolving into it from coins or falling into it will soon be carried away.


It was probably the coins that put me off most. I was surprised by how clear the water looked as a recent report I read said it looked stagnant and slimy but it didn't look that at all.
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Re: Mount Keen and Balnamoon's Cave

Postby MJSH » Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:22 am

Do a search to find and article by James Carron which describes the correct location of Balnamoon's Cave in Glen Mark which branches left off Glen Esk past Queen Victoria's well and the track that goes up to the top of Mt Keen. It is an amazing spot and if you go on a warm day take a towel and swimmers because there are some magical rock pools nearby. The location of Balnamoons cave is marked on the OS map but it is not that easy to spot as it is well hidden. Look for a well camoflaged bit of dry stone walling a little way up the hillside on your left which marks the entrance to the true cave.
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