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Billy Marshall's Cave


Walk No: Glenkens 86

Start: Cars can be parked alongside the forest track leading to the old Talnotry Camping Site off the A712 (Queen’s Way). GR NX 487716

Finish: Cars can be parked alongside the forest track leading to the old Talnotry Camping Site off the A712 (Queen’s Way). GR NX 487716


Notes: Capable of holding over a dozen people, this cave on the north face of Cairnsmore of Fleet has a commanding view across the rugged terrain of Galloway.


• Distance: 8 miles


• Height Gain:
• Approx. Time: 5hours


• Relevant Map:
Difficulty: Strenuous

• Terrain: Forest track, open hill with indestinct paths.
• Toilets: None available

• Refreshments: None available

Route Description
1. Follow the forest track as it swings right towards the bridge crossing the Palnure Burn, which tumbles majestically below on the R side. Take R at the junction just beyond the bridge and follow this SW. At the next junction turn L and shortly after L again and begin a twisting, gradual ascent along the track. This is narrow in places with an almost enclosed tree canopy.

2. At the tracks terminal point continue along the line of the firebreak following the twin tracks of a quad bike through the grass and moss. These tracks ultimately swing L out of the forest on towards Louran Cairn but a faint path continues out onto the open hill. This can be wet in places and leads out of the forest across an old fence and small burn onto the open hillside. Climb the slopes heading SW until the cave comes into view. It is situated at grid NX 495680 amongst large square granite blocks and marked by a small iron pin. Billy Marshall was born around 1670 and is said to have lived for 120 years. He was the “King of the Tinker Gypsies” and is best known for his exploits as the leader of “The Levellers”. From the cave climb the rocky slopes onto the NW spur of Cairnsmore of Fleet. The flat summit is dominated by an ancient cairn. More recently, in 1980, a granite memorial commemorating the lives of aircrew lost in the Galloway Hills was erected. A trig pillar and square stone shelter also grace the summit.

3. Descend NE, to a gate and stiles in the fence at the Nick of the Saddle and contour around the W flanks of Meikle Mulltaggart before striking N across the flatter and wetter area of the Deers Den and Coo Lochans. (Note that the fence line shown on OS maps to the N and W of Meikle Mulltaggart is reduced to a few rusted stakes and is hardly visible) Pick the best way through the peat hags of the Coo Lochans aiming for high ground. A broken stile will be found in the old fence at NX 507694. Keep Brockloch Cairn to your L and progress onto Craignelder. A small cairn marks the top.

4. Head carefully NW down ever steeper terrain using the granite slabs as large stepping stones through the heather. As height is lost heather gives way to rank grass and the forest edge will be seen. Murrays Monument is a prominent landmark. Keep this straight ahead. Cross over an old fence and follow the dyke down towards the track. Turn L and R to cross the bridge and reach the start point.