We are therefore faced with the situation that on the line of the old road there was a stockbridge even in the 17th century and on the line of the new road marked out in 1754. There was another bridge 4 years before Burns was born. It must therefore be concluded that Burns’ reference to ‘the ford, where in the snaw the Chapman smoored’ was inserted into the poem for effect rather than as a factual crossing.
I have walked the burn for half a mile in each direction from the Slaphouse bridge and can find no sign of a ford.
You are now on Tam’s route. Walk on up the side of the wood, keeping it to your left, and watch out for noisy natives with sticks, firing small white missiles, ‘til you cross the path to Belleisle House and on to about the middle of the 11th fairway, 200yds from the pathway. Here you will see, low down, a marker stone which lies about where “Charlie brak’s neck bane”.