From those first whispers from seasoned hill walkers, ‘the blue door’ was a curious entity. Shrouded in mystery it conjured memories of Alice Through the Looking Glass and mysterious forests emerging from forgotten winter wardrobes.
And I wasn’t wrong to expect a magical place. As you leave the picturesque village of Edzell, cross the little stone bridge and a few cars parked on your left – and you’ve missed it. The tiny blue door in an inconspicuous estate wall. We just about missed it the first time, it was perhaps, just as well we couldn’t find a parking space on that mild, autumnal Saturday otherwise, we might have missed the mythical portal altogether.
Passing through ‘the blue door’ had been likened by several – dubious – sources to ‘entering another world’.
But we were not disappointed.
On the other side of the door, the autumnal wonderland opened up to reveal the River Esk, flowing through its magnificent gorge on our left, with a clearly marked path beckoning us onward. I half expected a tiny cookie with the label, handwritten, ‘Eat Me’ to appear on an adjacent toadstool.
The walk begins with the ‘Blue Door’ which I have chosen not to picture because even for our ‘mature’ party (two-thirds of us would still be welcome on a Club 18-30 holiday, one of which being the dog) with no children in tow, it’s being found was half the fun. This is definitely a magical place to take your wee ones, although you might want to stick to the wooded area and avoid the steep drops on the path down by the river. This is the route we opted for.
The walk is well marked and heralded by many as ‘Scotland’s Most Beautiful Walk’. And there’s no doubt that we chose the most beautiful time of year to visit. The very end of October, it was unusually mild but the air crisp enough to give the walk that seasonal edge.
A quick note on bikes: The walk is not ideal for cycling or mountain bikers. We nearly took the bikes, but were glad we decided against it when we discovered a sign on the door advising ‘No Bikes!’
Keen hillwalkers, this well-signposted, conscientiously maintained woodland circuit wasn’t our usual bag, hence we opted to stick to the riverside as best we could. This took us off the beaten track and we did a bit more off-roading than we would have liked, but we were rewarded with some striking views down the gorge and of the fast-flowing wild river. Forced to turn back once the riverside path turned into heathery moor, we veered back onto the ‘approved’ path (eventually) and continued the route.
There is a small section of road included in the route but this soon sneaks back into the forest. As the path heads back towards its starting point, the track becomes boggy in areas and those not wearing appropriate walking boots (myself) will soon begin to curse their lackadaisy attitude towards correct gear at this point. However, we were saved by a few more impromptu diversions and my feet held on in the realms of ‘soggy’ just before ‘soaking’.
It’s on this section of the route that you’ll spot a wee surprise. Hidden in the depths of the forest you’ll find the mythical ruin. Known as Doulie Tower, the building is actually a folly built some 200 years ago by local nobleman Lord Adam Gordon.
What’s a folly? An ornamental building with no practical purpose, usually constructed by the landed gentry. Often mistaken for bona fide ruins by gullible travellers.
To avoid missing the tower, keep to the track running parallel to the minor road (to your left) and follow it through the forest. It would make a lovely stop for lunch and it was not long after that we spotted this red squirrel peering down from its Scot’s Pine perch.
The route is punctuated by a few, well placed, information boards, telling you a bit more about the local wildlife you might see and the history of the River Esk and the area itself. For this reason, it’s a great choice for families (along with being suitable for all levels and abilities) but if you’re planning to take young children, I’d suggest sticking them reins on them (do people still do that?!) or keeping to the woodland paths as opposed to walking the edge of the gorge by the Esk.
I did have to endure a few ‘heart-in-mouth’ moments brought on by the dog threatening to launch herself, unwittingly, from more than one precarious ledge.
That said, there are plenty of interesting little benches set into the hillside and charming bridges to teeter over where its feasible that an old troll might be snoozing underfoot.
All in all, this wasn’t a typical escapade for us but all three of us (two humans, one dog) thoroughly enjoyed it. We spent a good 2.5 hours wandering here.
We topped it off with a detour to St. Cyrus beach at Montrose (about 40 mins drive from Edzell) and an early evening much at Roo’s Leap (Australian grub – reasonable and tasty although don’t opt for the fish and chips!).
Looking for a travel writer? I’m a freelance copywriter based in Perthshire, Scotland. You can contact me, here. At the moment I’m working on a travel guide to Perthshire so keep your eyes out for that if you’re planning a trip to Scotland. In the meantime, I’ll be populating my blog with little snippets like these, in between marketing rants and client work. I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Have you visited ‘The Blue Door’ or planning a trip to the area? Please leave your tips and comments to help other travellers, below. I’m happy to make recommendations for walking and cycling in Perthshire, just ask.