Original Do & See

The Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park was established in September 2003.  It is the UK’s largest National Park at 1,467 sq miles.

The Cairngorms National Park has a large mountain range at its heart with diverse communities around it. It is home to 16,000 people and 25% of Britain’s threatened species. It includes unique mountainous areas of wild land, moorlands, forests, rivers, lochs and glens. Sites designated as of importance to natural heritage take up 39% of the land area – two-thirds of these are of Europe-wide importance.

The Park stretches from Grantown on Spey to the heads of the Angus Glens, from Ballater to Dalwhinnie and Drumochter including much of the Laggan area in the southwest and a large area of the Glen Livet estate and the Strathdon/Glen Buchat area.


Glenesk has a rich natural history. Many bird species are to be seen, from the humble Meadow Pipit and the Red Grouse and the Ptarmigan, Golden Plover and the rare Ring Ousel; also many birds of prey, Golden Eagle, Sea Eagle (White-Tailed Eagle) , Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Kestrel and Hen Harrier and increasing rapidly the Common Buzzard. Many mammals are also present. Red deer are to be seen in herds numbering many hundreds, mountain hares, wildcat, fox, otter, red squirrel.

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White-Tailed Eagle

The red grouse is the main reason for employing gamekeepers in the Glen, and although numbers have declined in recent years, they are still the most important bird to the estates. On the higher hills, there are a number of ptarmigan, while pheasants and partridges inhabit the low ground. There are golden eagles, buzzards, peregrine falcons, hen harriers, sparrowhawks and kestrels to be found in various parts of the Glen. There are also increasing numbers of crows and gulls which may be one reason for the decline in the numbers of lapwings, curlews, oyster catchers and other ground nesting birds.

red grouse
Red grouse

Thrushes and mistle thrushes also seem to be in decline, although there are plenty of blackbirds. Most of the usual birds appear in the Glen, along with occasional visits from osprey. Red deer are numerous on the hills and roe deer are common on the lower ground. Stalking plays an important role in the commercial viability of the estates, and venison is a much under-rated meat which is low in fat and very tasty.

Red squirrel

Mountain Biking

An increasing number of MTB’s cycle from Ballater to Invermark over Mount Keen a fantastic cycle with varied tracks and scenery. A warm welcome awaits you at the House of Mark. Our big bacon roll and mug of tea is very popular for people passing by. Just ring the bell.



Queen’s Well, Glen Mark and Glen Esk

The Queen’s Well is a crown shaped monument built over a spring well in Glenmark. It was built to commemorate a visit made to Invermark Lodge, in September 1861, by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They made the journey from Balmoral to Glenesk over Mount Keen on horseback and stopped at the well to drink.

A fairly easy walk in good weather, leading to the wilder Glen Mark at the head of Glen Esk. Visit the ornamental well erected to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and return down the glen or take an optional, lengthy detour to look for Balnamoon’s Cave.

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Queen’s well

Balnamoon’s Cave

James Carnegy-Arbuthnott, Laird of Balnamoon, favoured the Jacobite cause and was known as the Rebel Laird. He was Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Deputy-Lieutenant of Forfarshire and an officer in Lord Ogilvy’s Angus regiment. He survived the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and fled to Glenesk where he was harboured by locals until he was betrayed by the local Presbyterian minister. Sent for trial in London, he was acquitted on a misnomer. (In 1745 he had added his wife’s surname and territorial designation of Arbuthnott of Findowrie to his own name, from whence arose the confusion).

While outlawed, Balnamoon was actively sought by soldiers of the crown, as well as hired Highlanders. At times of greatest danger, when his pursuers were in the Angus Glens, he hid out in a remote cave high in Glen Mark. The loyalty of the locals, the remote location and the difficulty in locating the small cave entrance among the rock strewn mountain sides, kept Balnamoon from being discovered and captured for a year. Balnamoon’s cave is not easy to find can you find it?

Balnamoons cave


Path and stony track across open moorland.

Start Point for: Queen’s Well, Glen Esk, Invermark
Satnav:    N 56°54’41.4″    W 2°54’37.8″

Total distance 8km/5 miles  Time 2 – 2.5 hours    Ascent 80m    Grid Ref NO446803

Invermark Castle

Very Close by from the House of Mark this fascinating tower is steeped in history.

Invermark Castle was built around 1526 by the Lindsays and was used as a refuge by the locals when Highland caterans or raiders descended on the Glen to steal cattle and whatever else they could find. In 1659, when the Laird bestowed a grant for the reader or schoolmaster, he bound himself and his successors to pay the whole stipend in the event of “a general vastatione of the paroche by Highlanders or otherwise.”

During one such raid, half the cattle and sheep in the Glen were carried off and five Glenesk men died trying to stop them. The castle was used by young David Lindsay, in 1607, after he had killed Lord Spynie in Edinburgh, after a long-standing quarrel. James Carnegie, Lord Balnamoon was another who sought shelter in Invermark Castle. He hid from government troops there after Culloden.

Further up the Glen, in Glen Mark, there is a cave called “Bonnymune’s Cave” where he successfully eluded the Redcoats until he was pardoned. The local people brought him food and warned him when the soldiers were about. Invermark Castle is about 65 feet high, 38 feet long and 27 feet broad. The basement walls are over 5 feet thick. The doorway is around 9 feet above the ground and although the wooden door has long gone, the iron ‘yett’ is still in position. Tradition says the yett was made locally of iron mined in Glenesk, but it does not seem to have been made originally for Invermark, as the shape of the yett does not correspond with the opening.

It is probable that entry was effected by a draw-bridge from the castle onto the roof of one of the outbuildings. The outbuildings were removed about 1803 to supply materials for building the Lochee Church and Manse ( now the House of Mark). The Rowan Tower, properly called the Maule Cairn, was built in 1866 by Fox Maule, 11th Earl of Dalhousie. It was erected as a memorial to members of his family who had died, including his brother Lauderdale Maule, M.P., who died of cholera during the Crimean War. Built by Robert Dinnie of Birse, who also built a bridge at Gleneffock and helped to build the Maule Memorial Church.

The tower stands 50 feet high and 38 feet in diameter, and was largely rebuilt in 1887 after a slip. This work was done by Stewart Porter of Cuttlehaugh, who was an apprentice to Robert Dinnie.

Invermark castle


Book both House of Mark for two nights or more and North Esk fishing, guests eligible for a 10% accommodation discount subject to availability. For bookings and further information please call +44 (0)1356 670311.

Bookings for the pheasant shooting season and hind stalking please see www.dalhousieestates.co.uk phone Mandy +44 ( 0) 1356 624566 for further details.


And more


Glenesk is a paradise for photographers with a host of varied scenes and light.

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Edzell Golf Club (30 mins)    http://www.edzellgolfclub.com/

Please note guests of the House of Mark are entitled to a ten percent green fee reduction courtesy of Mr Andrew Turnbull ( Managing Secretary ) email secretary@edzellgolfclub.com

Carnoustie Golf Club ( 65 mins)


The Royal and Ancient Golf Club St Andrews ( 90 mins )


Glamis Castle

glamis castle

The number one tourist attraction in Angus only 40 miles from the House of Mark.


Glentrek – Everything outdoors

Glentrek offers Scottish walking, hiking and cycling holidays, as well as a great range of days out in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. Glentrek is based in Angus, Scotland, less than a two-hour drive from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow international airports. You could easily combine a city visit with a fantastic walking, cycling or active holiday. To read more go to http://www.glentrek.com/

Ryder Cup Gleneagles

House of Mark is offering the very best hospitality and executive daily travel return to Gleneagles. We do have limited accommodation available so please confirm your booking as early as possible. However, for this very special event, we will try to meet requirements from rooms en-suite to bunkhouse accommodation email houseofmarkscotland@gmail.com  or call us +44 (0) 1356 670311.