This 6 mile route with approximately 200m of ascent takes you through the pleasant mixed woodland of Carden Den and the Sunnyside Plantation. Two sites of historical interest are visited: the Carden Tower remains and a cairn to commemorate Scotland’s last duel. The walking is all on paths and tracks which are a mix of good dry surfaces and sometimes muddy natural paths. There are options to shorten the route for an easier walk if desired.
The walk starts near to Cardenden Primary School, Carden Castle Ave, KY5 0EW. Parking is available on street or along the road at the library where the walk finishes. Start by walking down Cardenbarns Road (a farm track) to the left of the play area. After about 230m there is a path into the woods on your right which is marked by a metal railing. Follow this path then go down the steps to your right to descend into the Den.
When you reach an obvious path either turn left onto the main path through the Den or turn right to do a wee loop down to the river. If going down to the river, walk along the path crossing a small burn on a bridge until you reach another set of steps on your left going down to a bridge. Cross this bridge and turn left to cross back over another bridge. Go up the steps and turn right onto the main path.
Follow the main path alongside the river, which should be to your right, as the woodland changes from mixed to tall spruce trees. After passing under a road bridge there is a short section of gravel path before you reach a path junction. The main path goes left here but we are going to go right unless you want to a shorter walk. If you go left and then go up the steps to your left you will emerge at the area of the Duel Cairn which we will reach later.
Assuming you are doing the full walk, keep right at two path junctions, staying close to the river. The path here is a bit muddy although it does soon improve a bit. Horses have used this section some areas are a bit churned up in places. The path continues through the woods following the river until it reaches a public road at a green forestry commission gate. Turn left onto the road.
Although this is not a busy road, it still sees a reasonable amount of traffic so take care and keep well into the side of the road (ideally walk on the right hand side of the road towards the oncoming traffic). Follow the road for about 850m to reach another green gate on your left hand side at the entrance to a forest track.
After 450m on the track you reach a crossroad of tracks where you go straight on and soon arrive at a more open area. On your right is a pillar cairn to commemorate the site of Scotland’s Last Duel. There is an information plaque mounted on the pillar. Nearby are the remains of Carden Tower. A small sign points the way to the tower site along a path to your left alongside a field. It’s about 250m along this path to the tower site and the path affords good views down into Carden Den where you were earlier.
Return to the site of the Duel Cairn which has a seat and would make a good lunch stop. Continue on in the same direction that you were walking, passing a motocross track on your right hand side. This section of the walk is across open farmland. A bridge takes you over the busy A92 road and soon after you reach a junction where you go right (straight on takes you to Cardenbarns Farm and directly back to Cardenden). This next section of track takes you across a field to reach Sunnyside Plantation. When you reach the plantation, take the middle path into the trees and walk into the woodland on a reasonable path. When you reach yet another path junction turn right (left will take you directly back to Cardenden).
After turning right the path takes you across the woodland to the southern edge where it curves to the left and follows the edge of the woods. Try not to let the noise from the nearby road spoil your walk at this point. Keep on this path along the edge of the woods which later becomes more of a track and passes the site of a new build house. Soon after the house you reach the tip of the woods where a track doubles back to your left.
Take this track on your left which goes back into the woods amongst pine trees to follow the northern edge of the woodland. Note the Ordnance Survey trig point beside the path. After about 1km there is an obvious tree lined track on your right. Follow this track between fields until it reaches New Carden Plantation.
When the field on your left comes to an end and the trees begin, there is a “natural” path leading into the woods. Take this path which follows the southern edge of the woods. The path may be a bit indistinct in places but don’t worry, just make sure you can see daylight from the edge of the woods to your left and you won’t go wrong.
After about 300m the path emerges into an area of older woodland and meets a more obvious path. Turn right onto this path and enjoy the final section of the walk through the woodland back to Cardenden. The path emerges close to the library which is a few minutes along the road from where you started.
View / download GPX track of this route from Viewranger.
View / download GPX track of this route from Ordnance Survey.
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