There are lots of Blackcraigs in south-west Scotland, but this is the biggest and best. In May there is a pilgrimage of bird-watchers in Ayrshire to this area because of one bird: Dotterel.
The reason is that this weird wader thinks that the summit here is a bit like the sub-arctic plateaux of its breeding grounds like the Cairngorms. So on passage we get a chance to tick it in Ayrshire. It also helps that beautiful Glen Afton is a magnet for summer visitors like Redstart and Tree Pipit as well as other local rarities like Nuthatch.
The area is also a good place to walk. We park beside the Afton at the end of the track to Blackcraig Farm. The track is then rough but easy to the monument at Quintin Knowe, where we break off to climb Blackcraig Hill itself. This is short and sharp leading to the plateau with its various cairns and boulder fields: Dotterel heaven. You also get great views over Ayrshire and beyond.
From the summit we head south towards Blacklorg Hill (another underwhelming Donald) and then a sharp turn to the west towards Afton Reservoir and then along Craigbraneoch Rig which gives a lovely view down Glen Afton. From here we head down the Craig Burn to return to the car along the reservoir road.
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