Given the time of year and for some, increasing anxiety about slippery paths, we shall play safe and stay local, for this walk around Mugdock Country Park.
We shall start at the Visitors’ Centre which has a good car park and splendid loos. It also has the attraction of coffee, hot chocolate and enticing sugary items to ensure that we start off in good spirits. Hopefully we shall be able to walk through the woods, skirt Craigallion Loch and cross Drumclog Muir. If we have not got lost, we shall emerge at Mugdock Castle, walk past Mugdock Loch and Craigend Castle to end up back at the Visitors’ Centre.
This is more of a Christmassy trip with all the trimmings than a challenging hike! We’ve never taken the Christmas walk too seriously, thinking more of the meal to come than the miles we’ve covered. However, this is a new venture for WECWC (although KH walkers will recognise it). We park at Lomond Shores where, if we’re early or quick or recalcitrant, we might just have time for a quick scoot at the shops, before wending our way around Loch Lomond to the station at Balloch (short and picturesque). Here we take the train to Dalreoch (also short but not quite so picturesque). Alighting at Dalreoch we go straight down to the River Leven and keep to the path along its banks all the way back to Balloch, around the Loch and over to the cars. (Seven, very easy, miles!) We’ll take the cars along to Balloch Park, parking behind The Balloch House (a Vintage Inn) where we’re booked for our Christmas meal. If you’re very good we might even go down to the shores of the Loch to sing our carols in the gloaming!
The walk starts in Largs where evidence of Roman baths were unearthed in 1820. The route follows the Ayrshire Coastal Path north via Pencil Point for a refreshing promenade along the seafront.
At Noddsdale Water the route heads inland, but still on the Ayrshire Coastal Path (!), and gently climbs until reaching the Iron Age hill fort on The Knock (known locally as Knock Hill) where, weather permitting, there should be good views.
The descent is down Blackhouse Burn, then passes close to Knock Castle before returning to the seafront and following the Ayrshire Coastal Path back to the Marina.
At around 10 miles it is a relatively easy walk but can be muddy in places!