This circuit is at the end of the Water of Ken valley: probably the most remote road in D&G. These two hills with the strangely odd and similar names are both Donalds which is the only reason, to be honest, that we were here in the first place. It turns out the hills were totally underwhelming but they had lovely surprises, and if you want to know what, you’ll have to read on. What a tease!
From the car park at NX662993 we wandered along the nice track to the old cottage at Lorg. Unfortunately this was sheep country so Jazz was on the lead. The cottage itself was great: it had a shed with a rusty corrugated-tin roof – classic Kev photo time. From here a track skirts the side of Lorg Hill up to the saddle and the Ayrshire border. It’s hardly exciting walking but the view north into Ayrshire is nice and we can see the hills around Afton Reservoir. Solely for completeness sake we took a detour to add Meikledodd Hill to our Donalds collection.
We follow the county border up onto Alwhat. This then dips down to the source of the Afton into which Jazz promptly wallowed: I bet the Afton didn’t flow so sweetly after that 1. From here a climb up to the equally uninteresting Alhang. Finally, this is where this walk starts to get interesting 2.
We now drop (quickly!) into the glacial valley of the Holm Burn. This is a place to give Geography teachers a giddy spell: it was glacial textbook being filled with erratic boulders and drumlins in a U-shaped valley. The walking here was rough but a path did finally emerge. Lower down the river had cut into one of the drumlins and you can see what a glacier finds indigestible. Then a bit of serendipity: we were crossing a wee burn when I noticed some Butterwort in flower growing in the marshy ground. We’d seen these in Arran last year and had only just managed to identify them, so this was great to see them again. Then I noticed the small plant beside them: something I’ve been trying to see for years – Sun-dew. I’d seen them often enough in photos but they don’t give you a good sense of scale: these plants are tiny. So there I was on my hands-and-knees in a bog trying to photograph these beauties while a mad Springer tried to play with the camera. I bet Charles Darwin or David Douglas didn’t have these problems when they were out plant collecting!
From here it is a reasonable path to the farm and then back to the car (across a marsh covered in Common Milkwort in flower). The hills were unremarkable, but it shows what a bit of luck can produce in the most unprepossessing places: some beautiful plants and interesting scenery.
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