This is one of the best walks in Ayrshire: a lovely circuit taking in Bogton Loch, Loch Doon and Ness Glen. The scenery is varied and there is a lot of wildlife to be seen, especially at this time of year when all the summer migrants have now arrived and singing their heads off.We parked at the playing fields at the north end of Dalmellington 1. Cross over the A713 and take a private road south. This skirts the edge of Bogton Loch and then enters some woodland. It’s well worth taking your time here in Spring as the place is alive with birds. Jazz could go practice her sniffing while I tried to spot things in the canopy. The road goes past a couple of ponds and these were a magnet for Swallows, Martins and Swifts. When the road is about to cross the River Doon take a left fork and continue along the forestry track. When the track reaches the edge of the wood it takes a sharp left turn and climbs the hill to join the Loch Doon road. Now we follow the road towards Loch Doon. Unfortunately this is sheep country so Jazz is back on the lead.
Just before the dam we had lunch in the woods on the east side of Ness Glen. As we were finishing I noticed Jazz getting interested in a butterfly: a Green Hairstreak! It was tricky trying to combine photographing it while preventing Jazz from eating it, but I managed.
The view from the dam to the Rhinns of Kells is always lovely: for once you can see them all. At the end of the dam is a path on the right signed to Ness Glen. The path splits here and you have a dilemma: high road or low road? Both are great, and they are very different. The low path takes you down the gorge itself which is spectacular as you follow the river (highly recommended). The high path takes you along the edge of the glen through the trees and is better for wildlife (highly recommended). 2 Given the time of year we wanted to look for migrants so took the high road. 3
Almost immediately we headed up the path we heard then saw a male Wood Warbler – a local rarity in Ayrshire and a bird worth searching for. A party of Crossbills were feeding in the pines, and another summer migrant, a Tree Pipit was doing its parachute display flight at the end of the trees. As well as these highlights were the usual suspects of a rich woodland at this time of year: a great place. After a km or so, the path drops back to the river and joins the low path. However, we cross the bridge and continue downstream. The path re-enters the woodland and we take a left fork over the bridge and then the next right. Follow this path until it reaches the road at NS475037 where we cross over and follow the track up onto the hill.
The track crosses a field (with livestock, alas) to an old ruin that has a great view over Bogton Loch. The path (sign-posted by the Doon Valley Walks) now descends along the side of the woodland to the bridge and waterfall at Dalcairney. The newly-constructed path follows the stream down its gorge to the fields and then onto the Dalcairney road. This is a lovely quiet lane that heads for Bogton Loch. You might have noticed on this walk that there is a lot of new double fencing to protect newly-planted hedgerows. This is one example of the good work being done by the Craigengillan Estate to make this area even nicer and more attractive to wildlife. Jazz and I thoroughly approve. It’s worth keeping an eye open for wildlife all the way along this lane, e.g. last summer I spent a happy hour watching a family of Otters playing in the loch. Near the end of the road is an anglers’ hut: take the path down the side to the river and cross the smart wooden bridge. The path then skirts Bogton Moss (a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve) and then along the river back to the car at Dalmellington.
This walk is a lovely combination of habitats and scenery all wrapped up in an easy circuit. We’ve done this at various times of the year and it is always interesting. Ness Glen in autumn is particularly wonderful. And remember to do both high and low paths!
- Being a circuit there are lots of access points for this walk, but this is the most convenient. ↩
- If you were hoping I’d make your life easier by saying which path to take you are sadly wrong. What I would suggest is that you do both! ↩
- This is not implying that the low path is devoid of bird-life: it’s great for Dippers and Wrens you do their best to be heard over the roar of the water. ↩
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