Often someone I know will come up to me and say “I’ll tell you where you want to go to take photos” and a couple of years ago it was suggested that I take a trip to Crichope Linn. As usual I didn’t have the time or the weather until last August to pay a visit so one Saturday we set off in search of this must see place.
We headed up the A76 from Dumfries towards Thornhill and turned right onto a minor road just before The Trigony Hotel, after crossing a railway line we turned left at a T junction and then turned left again at The Auld Smiddy. Although the roads are narrow there is an area you can park just after the signpost into the walk. You could easily miss this sign so keep an eye for it.
When we visited, the walk was overgrown with ferns and the path was muddy, so a good pair of boots and waterproof leggings would help to keep you dry and make it a more pleasant experience. The walk itself is not to distant and not strenuous so leaving yourself an hour for the round trip would give you plenty of time to take in the magic of this place without trying to rush along the narrow path.
Walking along the path to the linn you are following in the footsteps of some famous Scots including Thomas Carlyle, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Scott increased the popularity of the gorge by using it as a location for Balfour of Burley's lair in his novel “Old Mortality. There are also references to the gorge being a meeting place for covenanters during the 17th century.
The gorge itself is supposed be 30 metres deep and has been created by the action of the water flowing along Crichope Burn which over the years has worn away the soft sandstone.
To get a good view of the gorge you have pass through a natural arch that has been cut out of the rock. There are a lot of names and inscription carved in the rock and even one supposedly from Robert Burns himself, so vandalism is not a new thing.
My first impression of seeing the gorge was of a location that would not have looked out of place in Jurassic Park and it's easy to see why it was thought of a place for supernatural beings. Although there had been a lot of rain there was not a lot of water cascading down the waterfall but this did not take away any of the natural beauty of this place.
This is not somewhere that I would venture to on my own. I could imagine you could loose your footing easily with the amount of dead leaves and moss on the rocks and if you fell damage would be done.
Is it worth a visit and for me a return visit, the answer to both of these would have to be yes. As I said, we visited Crichope during August, I'm sure it would be an interesting place to visit during the winter and spring when there would be different levels of vegetation.