There is so much to like about a walk around Torwood Forest. A healthy dose of history, nature and mystery are a good combination for a well spent afternoon! An impressive castle ruin, a mysterious bright blue pool and an Iron Age broch make this Falkirk walk one you don’t want to miss.
We began our walk one chilly November day down a small and muddy path towards Torwood Castle ruins. It wasn’t long before we came to a sign which read ‘Torwood castle- enter at your risk’. While the message was slightly unsettling, the ominous warning didn’t deter us from continuing onward.
After half a mile of walking from the main road, the Torwood Castle ruin came into view. A roofless L shaped shell stood before us. Torwood Castle has been estimated as being built around 1566 for Sir Alexander Forrester. It was then passed to Clan Baillie in the early 16th century. It is clear that even in its ruined condition it would once have been a significant building.
There were some man-made ladders leading up to one of the windows of the castle. It was tempting to climb up and have a look inside, but we weren’t convinced of their stability. The castle holds remains of a courtyard, fireplaces in some of the rooms, and apparently a dungeon lies somewhere beneath the walls. Unfortunately we were unable to get inside the walls to properly explore.
We have since learned that a local man has moved into the grounds of Torwood Castle to stop vandals from causing any more damage. It is his mission to restore the castle and he has committed thousands of pounds of his own money to restoration work. A Just Giving page has been set up to support his selfless work. If you would like to support the restoration of Torwood Castle please click here.
The 16th century Torwood Castle Ruins are extremely impressive, but are actually are only a small part of what this area has to offer. There is also the very mysterious Torwood Blue Pool and the remains of a 2500 year old Iron Age Pictish Broch.
Torwood Blue Pool
We followed a path from the castle towards Torwood Blue Pool. It is not signposted so we had to use GPS to help us locate it along with some online instructions. We walked along a path with the castle and wind farm in the distance. The path continued for 15 minutes or so until we reached a huge pylon in the trees. We knew that this was close to Torwood Blue Pool. We cut off the path and soon found, nestled in a wood clearing between the lines of trees, the mysterious man made pool.
The Torwood Blue Pool is circular, lined with bricks and around 4.5 metres deep. The water was incredibly blue just like the pictures I had seen. Despite the bright blue water there is still remarkable visibility right down to the bottom. The pool looked very inviting to jump in and with a little encouragement from my friend Claire, that’s exactly what I did!
Cold Water Swimming Challenge
Inspired by my moment of madness Fin later decided to follow in my footsteps. She enjoyed a bracing dip of her own in Torwood Blue Pool. She did this as part of her 30 days Cold Water Challenge raising money for Cancer Research. If you would like to donate to Fin’s challenge please click here.
We both agreed that the most surprising thing was the apparent freshness of the mysterious blue water!
I later found out a local man, the late Nigel Turnbull, ran a website trying to ascertain the origin of Torwood Blue Pool. He dedicated years of his life conducting interviews of locals and reading through archives. The general consensus is that Torwood Pool is an abandoned shaft from the areas coal mining days. However, no-one has definitively identified its origins. Part of me likes its mysterious nature, however I am beyond curious as to how the water keeps its distinctive blue colour while never appearing to stagnate.
After a bracing swim we retraced our steps and soon came to a sign post for the Tappoch Broch (also known as Torwood Broch). The route here is waymarked so the Broch is much easier to locate than the pool. The path twists and turns for about a third of a mile until you reach a large bracken covered mound.
Tappoch Broch sits at the summit of this camouflaged hill. The broch is an iron age roundhouse that was excavated in 1864. Inside Tappoch Broch, the remains of walls have several small chambers built into them. It is thought that these originally stood at 10 metres high and 7 metres thick with an intra-mural stairway leading up through the interior of the wall. The broch is certainly worth a visit especially if you have an interest in ancient Scottish history.
I would allow 3 hours in all for the walk.- especially if you are going to include a dip in the areas most mysterious body of water! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon as you get to visit the castle, the blue pool and the broch all in one go. If you decide it sounds like a day out you would enjoy we recommend parking on Glen Road and starting your adventure from there!
Happy hunting guys! We can’t wait to hear what you think of the blue pool.
Remember when visiting Scotland to take only photos and leave only footprints!
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