The Murder Hole

By Colin Hogarth

The macabre sounding Murder Hole may not seem like the most enticing destination for a peaceful country stroll. But thankfully the spot in question has nothing to do with death, but is rather an author's flight of fantasy. While Galloway does indeed have a Murder Hole linked to a gory legend of abduction and bloodshed it is elsewhere in the county, and not at the western tip of Loch Neldricken where this route leads.

From the car park, set off east towards Buchan, passing Bruce's Stone, a monument erected in 1929 on the 600th anniversary of the death of King Robert the Bruce to commemorate his victory over an English force in Glen Trool in 1307. He was later to gain Scotland's freedom at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Follow the track through a bend, then over the Buchan Burn at the Earl of Galloway's bridge. There's an impressive waterfall on the left here. Beyond the bridge, there's a stile in the fence on your left. Ignore this and continue along the track a little further to another stile, again on the left. Climb over this and a path climbs diagonally across an open field.

A short way up, it passes through a gate in a wall and continues to rise over bracken-covered slopes, accompanied by a stone-built wall on the left. The path skirts round the southern flank of Buchan Hill, a 493 metre high peak.

Pass through a gate higher up and the path soon meets up with the Gairland Burn, taking water from Loch Neldricken ' the walk's final destination ' and Loch Valley down to Loch Trool.

The route follows the stream up to the western shore of Loch Valley where there's a lovely strip of golden sand, a good place to stop for a break before embarking upon the final stretch of the walk. The loch extends east in the shadow of the evocatively named Rig of Jarkness and at the far end there's a small lochan, Loch Narroch.

Back on the path, continue north for half a mile, past a sheepfold. The way runs parallel with the Mid Burn, a stream linking Loch Neldricken and Loch Valley, to emerge at the southern tip of the loch.

The Murder Hole is a short but rough walk, left around the reedy western shore. It is so called, not because of any dark deeds that happened in this wild and remote spot, but because of a novelist's literary licence. It was created when Crockett penned his book, The Raiders. In Galloway there exists the tale of a woman and her son who lived in a lonely cottage on the Bargrennan to Straiton road. The pair were said to welcome weary travellers, but after providing lodgers with a bed for the night they would murder their unsuspecting victims and dump their bodies in a deep, boggy hole on the moor. Crockett took the story, but transported the Murder Hole from Rowantree Junction to Loch Neldricken.

Once you've finished exploring Loch Neldricken, retrace your steps via Loch Valley back to the start.


Distance 5 miles/8km
Map OS Landranger, sheet 77, Harveys Galloway Hills.
Start/parking Bruce's Stone public car park, Glen Trool. GR: NX 415803.
Grading An easy walk suitable for all ages and abilities, following a good path over grazing land, where dogs will need to go on the lead, and open moor.