Category Archives: Within a radius of about 30 miles

The Alloway Loop

Starting Point for the Walk:

Burns Cottage Car Park, Alloway, Ayrshire – OS Reference NS 333 185.

Getting there: 40 miles / 50 minutes

Take your favourite route out of Glasgow onto the M8 (Greenock).  Exit onto the M77 (Kilmarnock) and continue south on the M77/A77 until Holmston Roundabout on the outskirts of Ayr.  Then follow the signs for Stranraer and Alloway (A77).  At the next roundabout (Bankfield) follow the signs for Stranraer (A77).  Turn right off the A77 (signed Alloway/Doonfoot/Heads of Ayr).  There is also a brown tourist sign for Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.  Follow Doonholm Road until a small roundabout and turn right (2nd exit) and follow this to the junction with the B7024.  Then turn left and at the mini-roundabout turn right into Greenfield Avenue and then after about 100m turn right into Burns Cottage car park.  Closest train station is in Ayr, with local bus services to Burns cottage.

The Walk: 

Alloway Loop – 5 miles (8 km) – Flat

From the car park next to Burns Cottage, cross the road and follow the “Poet’s Path” in the direction of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.  The Path has ten weather vanes and sculptures depicting scenes from Robert Burn’s poem Tam O’ Shanter.  Cross over the wooden bridge and turn right at the museum heading towards the Auld Kirk.  Toilets are available in the museum.  The graveyard at the Auld Kirk dates from 1516 and contains the grave of Robert Burn’s father.  The graveyard was also the setting for the dancing witches in Tam O’ Shanter.

From the Auld Kirk, cross over the road and turn right along the pavement towards the Burns National Monument and gardens.  There is a nice garden to explore and excellent views from the top of the monument.  There will be time to listen to Tam O’ Shanter in another outbuilding where the statues of Tam and Souter Johnny are on display.

Crossing over the Brig O’ Doon, take the path which leads towards the main road and then turn right and then left onto Longhill Avenue.  Travel along Longhill Avenue and take the steps on the right, down onto the tree-lined cycle path.  Turn right and follow the path over the River Doon.  Mungo’s Well is on the north bank on the left.

Continue on the cycle path and at Maybole Road turn left.  After 150m turn left into Kersepark and then right into Pemberton Valley.  Opposite Broadwood Park turn right into a narrow lane that leads into woodland.  Joining the woodland path, turn left and follow the path towards Rozelle Park.  Cross The Loaning and continue into the park.  Take the path to the left leading to Rozelle House and the Maclaurin Gallery.  Wander around the park to take in the sculptures, the Story Stroll and the pond before heading back to the car park.

Craufurdland Estate

Starting near Dean Castle Country Park the route takes minor roads before crossing the A77 and entering the Craufurdland Estate.

Passing Craufurdland Loch Fishery one of many paths crosses Fenwick Water and exits the Estate joining the B7038. Heading into Fenwick there are a number of points of interest. It is thought that the Fenwick Weavers’ Society is the oldest cooperative in the world. It was founded in 1761. The Parish Church, however, dates to 1643 and has a history that includes the Reformation, the National Covenant, and Patronage all highly sensitive issues at the time. The churchyard, which has sentry boxes to guard the entrances, has several covenanters’ graves.

Returning to the southern outskirts of Fenwick, the route follows country roads before picking up a woodland path which traverses several fields before emerging onto the Wardlaw Road. This road cuts under the A77 before joining the outgoing route.

Down at Doune

Doune is one of those Scottish towns that we have driven through numerous times, but never visited!

The walk  starts  close to the site of the former Doune Railway Station and heads past the nearby Doune Ponds then meanders through some lovely woodland. In due course you pick up a section of the former ‘Callander & Oban Railway’ for a couple of miles. After walking through the eastern side of the town, you pass through the grounds of Doune Castle before picking up a path along the River Teith. The final couple of miles include some more woodland and open countryside.

Starting Point for the Walk:

Doune Ponds Car Park, Doune – OS Reference NN 725 019 [Sat Nav: FK16 6EH].

Getting there: 36 miles/45 minutes

Take your favourite route to the M80 (Stirling).  Exit M80 at Junction 10 (Doune [A84]).  In Doune (on the A84) take a right turn [Town Centre/Doune Castle] onto the A820 (Balkerach Street).  Almost immediately after joining the A820, take a left turn onto Station Wynd and continue past Pistolmakers Row for about 100m before turning left into Doune Ponds Car Park.

Toilets are available at Stirling Services (M80, Junction 9, FK7 8EU), approximately 40 minutes drive from Glasgow.

The Walk:  Doune Loop – 7.5 miles (12 km)

The walk starts at the Doune Ponds, a 40-acre Nature Reserve (which was previously a gravel and sand quarry), by following a network of paths through the woodland that surrounds Doune Ponds.  The route eventually leaves the woodland via a steep hillside climb that takes about 5 minutes.  Soon after reaching the highest point in this locality, there are good views across the town of Doune.  Then follow a network of paths and quiet country lanes through the countryside to the NE of Doune.

In due course, pick up a faint path through a small area of dense woodland – this leads onto a former railway line.  Follow the old railway line in a westerly direction for about 1.25 miles then head in a southerly direction, through a park, past the kirk then through a housing estate.  A few minutes after passing the housing estate, reach the grounds of Doune Castle.  Skirt around the east side of the Castle and pick up a path that runs along the side of Ardoch Burn.  After about 0.25 mile, the Ardoch Burn joins the River Teith.  At this point, turn right and follow a path that heads in a WNW direction alongside the River Teith.  After about 0.5 mile turn left onto the A84, then cross the road to join a footpath to rejoin the river.  Take care when crossing the busy A84.

Continue through an area of woodland that runs alongside the River Teith, which soon leads to a path on the right and a gentle climb away from the River Teith.  The final 1.5 miles is along a path and farm access track which leads to the west end of Doune.  After about 1 mile, cross the A84 again and then head into an area of woodland at the southern edge of Doune Ponds.  Rejoin the outgoing route to end up back at the Doune Ponds Car Park.

Bridge of Allan/Dumyat Loop

Starting at the railway station in Bridge of Allan, the destination is Dumyat (418m) where, weather dependent, there should be good views. Those wishing a shorter walk can opt for a smaller loop which excludes the climb to the Dumyat peak. The walk passes
through a variety of landscapes. This walk starts and ends in Bridge of Allan and is a moderate 8.3 mile loop.

Starting Point for the Walk:

Bridge of Allan station – OS Reference NS 785 977.

Getting there: 33 miles/41 minutes

Take your favourite route to the M80 towards Stirling and continue onto the M9 towards Perth.  Leave the M9 at Junction 11 and at the roundabout take the fourth exit (A9) to Bridge of Allan.  At the entrance sign to Bridge of Allan, note the Railway Station sign above the hedge on the right.  Continue slowly to the first mini-roundabout and turn right.  Note that there are no signs to the station.  Enter the station car park.  If you miss the first roundabout there is a second round-about at which you can do a U-turn and approach the first one and see signs to the station.

The Walk:  Bridge of Allan/Black Hill Loop – 7.5 miles (12km) (Shorter option available)

From the railway platform ascend the steps to the main road and turn left past the two mini roundabouts and after 100m, on the left, coffee and toilets are available at the Railway Café.  Continue down the main street and note The Westerton Arms pub on the right.  Turn left and after 20m turn left on a path marked “Mine Woods via Lovers Leap”.  Keeping to the right and ascend slowly to a grassy field and narrow road.  Crossing the road and turning right the path parallels the road to a four-way junction.  Turn left up a path with a big sign “Coppermine” – unfortunately this sign is about 10m up the path and not easy to see from the junction.  Now go slowly and steadily up a fairly steep path on the side of the hill.  Passing Wolfshole Quarry on the left approach a steep set of steps which can be bypassed to the left by an excellent path.  After 700m arrive at a minor road and turn left.  Ignore a road on the left and after 100m turn right on a path guarded by a green bar.  This path gently climbs up to Cocksburn Reservoir.  Continue to the right along the reservoir and at the end take a right fork with fences and a wall on the right.  The path eventually leads to a metal gate and a minor road (the historic Sheriffmuir Road).  Turn left and after 100m turn right onto open ground.

Option A:  Take main path for good views across the Forth and descend a good path on right to a break in the wall.

Option B:  Take the path on the right (heading for the edge of a wood on the right) that leads to a break in the wall.

Once through the wall turn left down a lovely path which continues down through a rhododendron tunnel passing a fence on the right.  At the end of the fence turn right and after 100m cross a burn to arrive at a minor road.  Turn right uphill round two hairpin bends to a locked gate which may be bypassed by a narrow path behind the fence to the left of the gate.  Keeping left, the path broadens and goes downhill to reach a track which follows the boundary wall of Stirling University.  Arrive again at the Sheriffmuir Road and turn left.  On the Sheriffhall Road turn right after 20m and the path wends its way through housing, then between high fences, to join another access road (Pathfoot Drive).  After 50m cross straight ahead near to broken down brown double gates and along another path between garden walls and fences.  After 100m this joins another access road.  Turn left and then right at the letter box along a main residential road (Kenilworth Road).  Proceed along Kenilworth Road for 400m and look carefully on the left for a path between garden walls (nearly opposite #13 “LIKARA”).  Take this path down 86 steps and turn sharp right.  After 400m arrive at Well Road and follow left until junction with Henderson Street.  Turn right and return to the station.


Kicking up a stank

Starting near Kilmahog the walk heads gently uphill winding its way through woodland and culminating in views over Loch Lubnaig which lies between Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich.  The path then strikes inland and up the Stank Glen.  After traversing the stream the path returns on the north side of the glen and descends towards Loch Lubnaig (the name derives from the Gaelic word meaning ‘crooked’).  Close to the shoreline the path picks up the course of the old Callander and Oban Railway line for the return journey to the starting point.

If you wish to be more adventurous you may want to return on another occasion to take the path up to Ben Ledi which has featured in many photos from past walks.

Starting Point:
The starting point is at OS Reference NN 607 080 which is the Forestry Commission car park adjacent to Bochastle Hill near Kilmahog.

Callander FK17 8HA, UK

Getting there:  45 miles/60 minutes
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow to join the M8 towards Edinburgh.  Exit M8 at Junction 13 onto the M80 (Stirling).  Exit M80 onto M9 (Stirling).  Option [1]: exit at Junction 10 onto A84 and *continue through Doune and Callander to Kilmahog and turn left onto A821.  After about 350m turn right onto a gravel roadway flanked by Bochastle Forestry Commission signs.  Option [2]: continue to the roundabout (Junction 11) and take first exit onto B824.  At the T junction turn left (A820) towards Doune.  Continue through Doune and turn right onto A84 and *continue as above.  Parking is free.

The Walk:  The Stank Glen – 10.0 miles
From the north end of the car park take the path/Land Rover Track (LRT) that gently climbs and winds its way through the forest.  Views over Loch Venachar, to the southwest, should be available from the path.  The LRT crests at a height of about 250m from which there should also be good views, to the north, over Loch Lubnaig.  At a crossroads of paths continue onwards (turn left to climb Ben Ledi or *right for a short cut down to the old railway line).  When the LRT joins another LRT turn sharp left and follow this uphill.  *For another shorter option turn right and follow the LRT down to the cycle path by Loch Lubnaig and turn right.  Ignore paths/LRTs on both left and right.  When the path/LRT bends left it is entering Stank Glen with Ben Ledi high up on the left.  Follow the path/LRT deep into the glen (ignoring a short link path on the right that avoids the glen) and as the path turns right to return on the north side of the glen it crosses the Stank Burn and passes Old Shielings.  Ignore the short link path (now on the right) and follow the LRT as it gently descends towards Loch Lubnaig.  Ignore the LRT that comes in from the right and continue in a northerly direction.  The LRT does a 180˚ loop to the right close to Tom Bheithe before finally descending to Loch Lubnaig.  Turn right and join the route of the old Oban and Callander Railway line which is now National Cycle Route 7.  Follow this cycle path for about 5km, passing the Falls of Leny.  Turn right when the cycle paths meets the A821 and follow the path, adjacent to the road, back to the car park entrance and follow the LRT to the parking area.

Callander to Kilmahog Circular

Park wherever you can find a space in Callander.

The Walk: you may find it helpful to purchase a copy of the map of the excellent way-marked paths around Callander from the Tourist Information Centre or downloaded from the website. The ‘coloured dots’ in the notes below refer to this map.


Begin by walking along the Main Street towards Stirling etc. and continuing past the junction for the road up to the Bracklinn Falls on the left and the Roman Camp Hotel on the right. A little further on a sign post directs you down a narrow path (blue dots on the map) which soon opens out, undulates along a low ridge and then makes down to the river. The stretch along the river is lovely. Continue along the very good path, past an information board and platform for fishermen, to where the path is forced inland up a set of steps, across a field and on to the main road at a bus stop. There are pedestrian traffic lights to allow you to continue up a track on to the old railway line. At the junction, you turn right (white markers on the map).

It is possible to opt out here by turning left and walking back along the railway line to Callander.

Turn right here and walk to the last in a row of houses on the right. Here there is a clear path on the left which leads up to the woods and saves a trek to the next corner and turning back. Cross an old wall and join a good path that continues northward, crosses another old wall and joins the golf course. We’re asked to skirt around the Greens. At Green 14 the path is indistinct but keep going and it soon re-emerges through some trees. Keep on the path, around the Greens, sometimes through attractive clumps of trees.

At Green 7, where you’re asked to wait until the bell has been rung, there is a lovely path going off to the right in the direction you’re coming from, i.e. on the right hand side of the path across from the bench and the notice. Follow this as it climbs gently and eventually emerges on the Bracklinn Falls Road where you turn left.

It is possible to opt out here by continuing down the road to the Main Road and turning right into Callander.

Continue down the road (White dots on a yellow road.) At the blue Parking sign, turn right and at the gate take the lower red-and-brown dotted route through the forest. At a viewpoint, a post with a red marker goes up hill, but you go left downhill. There are some very slippery boards here! Avoid! This path comes down to Tulipan Crescent.

It is possible to opt out here by turning left, going through the car park at the back of the Dreadnought Hotel and into the Main Road.

However, you turn right in Tulipan Crescent and go down to cross the main road (A84) and pick up the railway going in the opposite direction (red dots). Follow this old track all the way to Kilmahog where you cross the A821 but take the path immediately on the left rather than continuing to Strathyre. Follow this up to a second car park but continue on through a gate on to an excellent Woodlands Trust path above the road but well below Samson’s Stone. It comes down to the A821, crosses it and makes for the River Leny at Invertrossachs Bridge. Once across, turn left to the car-park at Coilhallon Woods. Here you have a choice:

You can turn left here on the lower path, (along a white un-dotted route) and wander along a lovely path, round a lochan and into Callander Holiday Park. Wander through the site (even in winter) to the gate at the end and down on to the Invertrossachs Road.  The road comes out at a little roundabout where the A81 goes left and up the hill to Callander. It’s much prettier and just about the same distance to turn right and go up the road to just before McLaren High School and Leisure Centre. Turn left and go down to a park, zig-jag on through the park to the pedestrian bridge across the River Leny and then on to the other side and up to the main road.

Alternatively, the main route takes the second track on the left and climbs a little up through the woods with excellent views across the hills. At a sign-posted junction  turn left and come down to a gap in the wall and the A81. Cross and follow the route above.

The Three Lochs Way above Garelochhead

Again, this is the simplest of walks beginning and ending at a (very large) car-park. The full length is about 9 miles but those not going over Tom Buidhe can turn back whenever they feel like it and make for the Hotspots of Helensburgh. It will be obvious from the drive to the starting point that the car does all the hard work on this walk, although ‘The Yankee Road’ which you follow there and back, undulates a bit. If you ignore Faslane below the car park and the Military area on your right, the great advantage of this walk is the (hopefully) wonderful views of Gare Loch, Loch Long and Loch Goil and the even more spectacular views of the Arrochar Alps: Ben Ime, Ben Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler). There are lots more knobbly bits like Caisteal Dubh and Beinne Raithe. Never mind the names, the overall views are lovely and with easy walking you can actually look at them! The surface is too good at the beginning (metalled), and very good throughout. This is yet another section of Three Lochs Way!

Your turning point is the iconic wooden hut where the men slept who built the “Gurkha Bato”, a road constructed in 2009 by the men of 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron to provide a route across the dangerously boggy ground just south of the railway underbridge. The new bridge across the Glen Mallan Burn bears a small plaque in memory of Dave Markland who did the early project management work on the “Gurkha Bato”, Sadly, Dave lost his life in Afghanistan not long after.

Park in the ample space on the ‘Yankee Road’ over-looking Gare Loch

For once these notes start by suggesting how NOT to go! If you set your Sat-Nav for Garelochhead it will, quite rightly, take you up Loch Lomondside, ignore the A818 to Helensburgh, but take you on to Shemore to the A817. This new road, built by the Americans when enlarging Coulport, is more direct, more beautiful and lands you right at the start of the walk. Unfortunately it also by-passes two sets of toilets which, since there are no toilets on arrival, are pretty necessary!

So, don’t use your Satnav but take the A82, (Great Western Road) as usual, (Boulevard, Dumbarton, up Loch Lomondside). Beyond the huge roundabout with the flying geese (or whatever?)  at Balloch, continue on up past the Duck Bay Marina and then at the next roundabout, at Arden, turn left on the A818. This good road takes you to a roundabout where you turn left continuing on the A818. You’ll come into Helensburgh, go straight down the hill, across the A814 (the Shore Road) and into the huge pier car-park. Turn right in the car-park to go in front of the Swimming Pool. The toilets are very obvious in front of you, just where you’ll exit back on to the A814.

Exit from the car-park on to the A814 and turn left along the front in Helensburgh. Continue through Shandon etc. to Rhu where there is another toilet block on the seaward side and a small bus bay where you can park. The continue past the Peace Camp on your right and Faslane on your left.

At the roundabout with the High Security entrance to the Naval Base on your left, and Garelochhead and Kilcreggan straight on, DON’T go into Garelochhead. Instead take the third exit on your right, signposted to Arrochar.

At the next roundabout, ignore the road to Arrochar and Coulport on your left and take the right-hand road signposted Balloch with a huge brown Tourist Board sign pointing to Loch Lomond.

Drive up and up and up this road and when you see a sign on your left saying “Cross Roads’ and ‘Danger Military Vehicles Turning’ and a big exclamation mark, slow down and turn left along an open tarmac road. Ignore the first space, go through the gate (I think it’s a gate) and park along the left-hand side looking down on Garelochhead and Loch Long. This is probably the most beautiful car park we’ve ever parked in!

Helensburgh G84, UK

The walk

Simply set off along the metalled track, high above Loch Long and always looking towards the mountains. After about two miles, the tarmac ends at a gate and you’re on to much more pleasant walking, still easy, but with earth beneath your feet. At a pleasant junction, the main path goes straight on but those who would like to climb higher turn right here and go over the side of Tom Buidhe. There are good views from the top –including The Sleeping Warrior on Arran.)

On the way down, DON’T take the path to the right, signposted Arrochar along the Three Lochs Way. This is too far for one day. Instead, turn left and go down very steeply to the unmistakable ‘Gurko Bato’. If you have continued on the LRT, ignoring Tom Buidhe you may turn back here ; or you may go on a little to wave your red flannel petticoats at the trains which are just below you. You can get nearer to the trains where an alternative (and very-muddy-on-the-reccé-path) goes under the railway!

Ayr circular: A brisk walk along the front!

The promenade and cycle track are metalled, and the remainder of the paths are firm and well-beaten. Note that the path around Greenan Castle may be tide-bound if it’s a particularly high tide but there’s a clear inland route either just before the castle, which joins the cycle way, or up and over the castle.   That’s all the bad news! Otherwise, this is a lovely stretch along the sea front, beginning a few yards into ‘The Lang Scots’ Mile’ and making for the most romantic ruin of Greenan Castle. At the very start, Ailsa Craig is just in sight, soon to be hidden from view by the Heads of Ayr. You should see Arran and Holy Isle and you could have lunch at the Burns museum before following a most attractive path down Slaphouse Burn and through Rozelle and Belleisle Parks back to the seafront.

Park either at the Cromwell Road car park at the north (River Ayr) end of the promenade or anywhere along the promenade.  There are toilets in  Pavilion Road at the start of the walk and, in summer, by the Indian Restaurant.

Ayr, South Ayrshire, UK

To get there

Begin by taking your favourite route to the Kingston Bridge and the M77 where it’s a straightforward journey down the M77, following the signs to Ayr, to the Prestwick Roundabout, (take the dedicated lane to Ayr on what is now the A77); on through the next roundabout to Whitlett’s Roundabout. Here there are eventually four lanes, two outer (on the left) going on to Stranraer and two going half-way round the roundabout towards the Ayr Town Centre. The two lanes going towards the Town Centre take you down Main Road/ Whitletts Road/King Street but there are parked cars on the inner lane so  keep in the right lane. Go past the new race course, straight on at the traffic lights at Craigie Road and down to a huge roundabout with the A79 with TK Max in the corner. Go straight over here and down King Street to what is actually a T junction but you wind left across the bridge over the River Ayr and along the Sandgate with shops on either side. Continue over an awkward roundabout until you see Wellington Square on your right with a War Memorial Garden and the Council Offices beyond. Go on down past these imposing buildings to the sea front. Just past ‘The Pirates Ship’ on the left are the Pavilion Road toilets. If you don’t need these immediately, turn right along the sea front and then third right, just past the Horizon Hotel. This is Cromwell Street. Turn left into the car park. This may be full on weekdays but emptier on Saturdays and Sundays.

Your walk begins by getting on to the sea front where, depending on where you’ve parked, you’ll pick up the ‘footprint signs’ for ‘The Lang Scots’ Mile’. Greenan Castle looks some distance away but, in fact, it takes no time to reach the ‘new’ bridge across the River Doon.

Try to walk along the sea edge here – maybe even around the castle itself , but if it’s a very high tide, you may have to keep inland. In this case, the path you need goes off to the left just before the path takes to the shore around Greenan castle. An old cottage is clearly visible directly in line with the path.  Within 20 metres you will come to a mesh fence which is easily crossed.  Go straight ahead towards the cottage and after 10 metres the path will be clearly visible.  At the cycle track turn right and you’ll come to the route below.

However, If you’re doing this at low tide, keep walking right around the castle to the little cove where the Deil’s Rocks point out to sea and find a good track going up on the left towards Greenan Farm. Take the track up towards the farm, and then on to the A719, turning right where the cycle track forks. A dog-leg to the left takes you across the road and on to the old railway which runs for 1½ miles through not unattractive countryside. You might want to leave it at the Burns Museum possibly to eat but also for toilets.

After a break here, follow the road for a few yards to regain the old railway to Maybole Road where you turn left, again for a few yards. Just before Slaphouse Burn there’s a wicket gate leading on to a lovely path beside the burn which you follow, across Loaning Road, and on to Rozelle Park. You can divert left here to follow the track down to Rozelle House (with a toilet with a radar key) and pop into a little sculpture park on the left, and duck ponds on the right (just to get full value) before exiting through the main entrance on to Monument Road.

Here you turn right and then left into Belleisle Park. At the main house turn right to follow the path past the temporary café. You’ll come to a fairway. One way or another you have to cross over to the boundary wall beyond. If there are no golfers on the fairway go straight across. If this looks dodgy, turn left on a good track and where the fairway narrows, cross to a path beside the wall which runs back up to the right through a line of trees.

Either way follow the path to the old race course and go right round emerging on Racecourse Road. Continue down to the sea front the toilets at Blackburn Drive. After that, it’s a slog along the promenade to the car!


A trip to Anfield

This walk begins another of Scotland’s long distance walks – ‘The River Ayr Way’ which starts at Glenbuck and ends in the town of Ayr. It is actually easier to do the whole walk since transport along the way is inconvenient to put it mildly. If you are doing sections along this linear route you either need two cars; or find an alternative route back; or do as we did walking a ‘lollipop’ with a long ‘stick’ and a very small ‘lollipop! I was assured by at least two people that if we all walked out, turned round  and all walked back  the same way no-one would notice and so it proved.

The walk turned out to be one of the easiest we’ve ever done.  Glenbuck Loch is lovely and surrounded by daffodils, the sadly-over-snowdrops, but with splashes of marsh marigolds and with spindly-legged lambs it was looking spectacular. Note that the beginning of April is lambing and not the best time of year to do this walk. We had the farmer’s permission but anyone doing this walk should perhaps plan to go later in the year. Please also read the ‘Notes’ about walking with sheep!

Park at Glenbuck Loch, which is just into East Ayrshire. Your satnav for ‘Glenbuck’ will take you there – otherwise follow these instructions. To get there, take the M8/A74 motorways south.  YOU MUST COME OFF the M74 ON THE B7078, JUNCTION 11, CLEARLY MARKED FOR HAPPENDON SERVICES. There is no exit south or north from the M74 on to the A70. Take the slip road down to the roundabout and continue straight on towards the Services. You may wish to use the toilets here as there are none at the car park. Take care on exiting as you have to cross a dual carriageway (the old A74) to continue south. At the large roundabout beyond the Services, turn right on to the A70 and go under the motorway towards Ayr. Continue across the next roundabout on the A70. It is now 6½ to Glenbuck, past Douglas and Glespin.

When you (eventually) come to a small loch and then a larger loch on your right and a huge brown ‘Welcome to Ayrshire’ sign with ‘Welcome to East Ayrshire’ in white underneath on your left, begin to slow down. There are a number of black and white chevrons as you go round a series of bends, then a low red brick wall on your left. Now look for a road on the right with a very small notice ‘Glenbuck Loch Fishing’. Turn right up this road.

(If you miss the turn right, continue on until it is safe to turn round and come back. This time the hamlet has a proper sign ‘Glenbuck’ sign and you turn in left.)

Drive up the road, turn right at the ‘Shankley Memorial’ and continue up to an idyllic car-park over-looking Glenbuck Loch. The smaller car park by the Information Board may be full, but if you turn left through the stone gate posts there is a larger car park up and right.

Cumnock, East Ayrshire KA18, UK

The Walk

The walk starts in a beautiful spot  looking down on Glenbuck Loch where, in addition to the beauty of the scene, there are information boards about ‘The River Ayr Way’ and a ‘Sculpture’ path. It is well worth going down one of the several well-made paths to the loch-side partly to see the rather dubious ‘sculpture’ which marks the beginning of the Way; partly to look at the possibly more attractive Totem Pole of wild life, labelled ‘Muirkirk’; partly to go along the loch edge to the bird hide where the River Ayr way officially starts; but mostly just to admire the loch! If you take the path back up to the top car-park you will have completed a small interesting, and very beautiful  circuit. You might even have the good fortune to meet with the unofficial guides who will be delighted to tell you, and show you photos, of the history of the area.

Then follow the metalled road down the hill to the ‘Memorial to Bill Shankley’ which is worth reading even if you are not a Liverpool supporter!

Carry on taking the obvious road to the left and t the entrance to a farm  with a notice understandably saying ‘No Parking’ take the off-road path between a hedge and a fence which keeps you away from a dangerous bend on the A70. This comes down to the crossing of the A70 and a kissing gate with a River Ayr logo. The path goes off to the right and soon joins the route of the old railway.

The next 3½ miles simply take you through the valley on the disused railway line. The railway track bed makes for easy walking and enjoyment of the views towards the hills on the Ayrshire/Lanarkshire border, including Belt Knowe, Brack Hill, Little Cairn Table and Cairn Table. The route passes numerous ruins, for example the old Glenbuck Railway Station, and evidence of the industrial past of the area, with the huge opencast mine on the other side of the road a reminder that Ayrshire is still a major supplier of coal to Scotland and beyond. Where the path crosses tributaries of the young River Ayr there are sturdy bridges; and where the original railway bridges have been demolished, new paths down and back yp to the railway line have been created.

The route briefly leaves the railway line at Crossflat, heading right down the road for a short distance, then up the minor road towards Aldhouseburn before turning right through a fenced pathway. This route is now a filled-in canal and continues across open countryside before regaining the railway path just before Kames where you might stop for lunch.

On the way back you can take a slightly different route, just for a variety. This also uses an old railway line and takes you to and around Auldhousburn Farm before you regain the outward path. It is the ‘blue track’ on the Information Board at Kames, called the ‘Railway Walk’, To follow it retrace your steps, but where the River Ayr Way turns left, go straight on through a metal gate. This soon brings you to Auldhouseburn farm with large poultry sheds on your right. The path curves round to the left, by-passing the farmhouse itself, and brings you back to the River AyrWay and the route home.

Glenbuck Loch

The Loch was created 1802 by James Finlay for his Catrine Lace Mill and powered turbines there till 1967: the water also powered a dozen other water mills downstream. The dam’s creation largely drained the valley downstream and thus allowed the road to be relocated into the valley floor along the route of the modern A70 and paved the way for the adjacent railway line around 1839. Railway enthusiasts considered the Loch – dissected by the 1830 line – to be an exceptional place to photograph trains with still water either side of the line and many photos, well known to steam buffs exist. The last local train through Glenbuck station and over this dam was in 1964. The first steam railway in Scotland was between Troon & Kilmarnock had iron rails made in Glenbuck Iron works.

For other information about Glenbuck click below:

Bill Shankly

 William “Bill” Shankly, OBE (2 September 1913 – 29 September 1981) was a Scottish footballer and manager who is best known for his time as manager of Liverpool. Shankly came from Glenbuck, one of five brothers who played football professionally. He played as a ball-winning right-half and was capped twelve times for Scotland, including seven wartime internationals. He spent one season at Carlisle United before spending the rest of his career at Preston North End, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1938. His playing career was interrupted by his service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He became a manager after he retired from playing in 1949, returning to Carlisle United. He later managed Grimsby Town, Workington and Huddersfield Town before moving on to become Liverpool manager in December 1959.

Shankly took charge of Liverpool when they were in the Second Division and rebuilt the team into a major force in English and European football. He led Liverpool to the Second Division Championship to gain promotion to the top-flight First Division in 1962, before going on to win three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, four Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup. Shankly announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool won the 1974 FA Cup Final, having managed the club for fifteen years, and was succeeded by his long-time assistant Bob Paisley. He led the Liverpool team out for the last time at Wembley for the 1974 FA Charity Shield. He died seven years later at the age of 68.

Lochs, Hills and Glens

The Lochs and Glens Hotel, which gives this walk its title, is aptly named since you’ll be passing Lochs Drunkie, Venachar and Achray and looking across and up to at least five hills and mountains listed below.  Originally, this was a glenda-white-cobbled-together route but in fact  good paths and signposts have sprouted everywhere! There’s a totally-new route through to Brig o’ Turk and an alternative path up Ben Venue. Indeed,  it was all getting so boringly unadventurous that an  exciting assault course through the forest has been included The photo on the website was taken from this track. This is a lovely walk among the mountains!

Park in the Ben Venue car-park at Loch Achray. The Postal Code for the Loch Achray Hotel is FK17 8HZ.

Stirling, Stirling FK8, UK

To get there take your favourite route to Canniesburn Toll. At Canniesburn Toll take the second exit (avoiding the first exit to Bearsden and Drymen etc) and go round to the exit to Milngavie and the A81. The A81 takes you through the east end of Milngavie (past what was the East Dunbartonshire Council Buildings and is now a hotel); round the roundabout at Homebase, etc. Take the road sign-posted to Strathblane; go past the waterworks; on to Strathblane, Dumgoyne, Gartmore House to the roundabout outside Aberfoyle. Here turn left and continue for a mile into Aberfoyle itself.

You may wish to turn left just before the TIC to use the toilets which are next to the TIC since there are no toilets in the car-park.

Then continue to the end of the main road and swing sharp right and up the steep hill to the Duke’s Pass. Go past the entrance to The David Marshall Lodge, past the entrance and exit to and from the Forest Drive (all of which we have used before) and then down past Loch Drunkie on your right to Loch Achray in front of you. At the bottom of the hill swing left with the road and go past the Loch Achray Lochs and Glens Hotel (hence the title of our walk!) Swing right with the road this time, cross the picturesque bridge over the Achray Water which we will be following for much of our walk. The car-park is sign-posted on the right (50 metres) but is (obviously!) on the left. (Turn right and you’ll be in Loch Achray.) The journey is 30 miles from Glasgow and will take about 1¼ hours including the toilet stop.

At the time of writing Forest Enterprise was charging £3 for a day’s parking.

The Walk

There are two exits at the back of the car-park but take the one on the left with your backs to the loch. There is a slight climb and then the most stupendous views up Ben Venue in front and Loch Achray behind. Continue on an idyllic path till you come to a metalled road complete with signpost! Turn left to the waterworks (marked ‘Private’ but this is for vehicles) which is signposted for Ben Venue and waterworks. (We all drink our water from here!) An easy walk follows along the lovely sparkling Achray Water. At the (signposted) hump-back bridge to Ben Venue,  go left to take this. (Alternatively, you can continue  to and over the dam at Loch Katrine. Initially, this is very easy, but there are stone, leaf-rot-covered, steps up the other side, then an easy path, then a fallen tree which is awkward and wet to get round. You should come down to a very substantial stile. Make sure that you continue forwards to join the path (which goes right up to Bealach nam Bo) and left back down to the hump-back bridge. 

 The hump-backed bridge comes up to join the LRT. At the first junction take the LRT to the right sign-posted Brig o’ Turk and Ben Venue. This follows round, losing the path to Ben Venue but sticking with the path to Brig o’ Turk. Ignore the first LRT to the left which goes nowhere and continue across a sturdy bridge and then on with fine views of Bens A’an, Venue and Vane. (You can argue about this but I think Ben Lomond is out of sight and you’re looking at two out of three of Beinn a’ Chroin, Beinn Chabhair and An Caisteal behind us; and Ben Ledi behind Ben Vane in front.) Ignore a tempting LRT to the left and down to the road and continue  up to an excellent path  down to and across the road, signposted to Brig o’ Turk.

Once across the road you have a choice. At the Forest Drive, and on your left going north, there are two short-cuts: one which goes straight down to Loch Achray and one which takes a slightly longer route. These are easy and well-marked. On your  right  the Forest Drive continues south (marked with a cycle symbol on the map). If you take this YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR MAP CAREFULLY TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT ON A DEAD END.

However, if you need a little excitement  go straight on! Be warned warned that there are three windfalls at the beginning, close together, which are very easy.  The fourth windfall is slightly more difficult but you can crawl underneath although it may be wet. The fifth windfall, a little further on. The fifth windfall has a crack in the middle which you can squeeze through. The sixth windfall is prickly. You can get round it on either side but it is a little more difficult.

Your reward for all this is the loveliest view of Loch Venachar you’ll ever see. It’s so unexpected. One minute you’re watching you’re feet and the next you’re lost in the view. There’s a lovely path down (which disintegrates a little at the end) and you emerge on a fine LRT part of the Forest Drive). Turn left here and  follow this past the Swiss–looking Loch Achray Farm.

 At the junction of paths,  leave the route to Brig o’ Turk and turn left to continue along Loch Achray on an excellent track. At the junction with the main Forest Drive turn right (actually straight on) down and over a foot bridge which emerges on the road. The footpath at Blar Loisgate appears to have been lost so you need to take to teh road for a short stretch.   However, just after the Loch Achray Hotel but before the bridge over the Achray Water there’s a splendid easy footpath along the Water, round the side of the hotel, on to a LRT on the right which crosses the Achray Water and leads back up to the hump-backed bridge you came over at the start of the walk. Alternatively, you can make your way back along the metalled road,  to the car-park. The total walk is just over 8 miles: 9 if you add-on the dam; 6 if you take the short-cut; five if you also make for the car-park along the road!