Six Lochs Walk

Submerged tree with reflection and ripples, Loch Bradan

This is long but easy low-level walk that takes in six lochs in the Galloway Forest Park: Lochs Doon, Finlas, Derclach, Bradan, Riecawr and Gower. We decided to do this because the weather was mucky for going higher up and it was a route we’d seen and thought would make a good day out.
We parked beside Loch Doon and did an anti-clockwise circuit. The first half is on the rough track from Loch Doon over to Loch Bradan. Here we meet the forest drive that provides an easy downhill walk back to Loch Doon.  The first few km were in pouring rain through partially-felled forestry: time to put the iPod on and catch up on Radio 4 podcasts.  But things looked like they were going to improve and by the time we left the trees we had sunshine and views over Lochs Finlas and Derclach.

Rainbow over Derclach Loch

Jazz looking for gold

Looking towards Derclach Loch and Loch Finlas

We followed the cycle track 1 that dips and climbs to the pass that marks the Ayrshire/Galloway border and the descent to Loch Bradan. Here we join the path skirting the loch and head south-west. The last time we were here (December 2009) the water was flat-calm and I wanted to take some pictures of the submerged trees at the water’s edge. One of the results is shown above. The ripples in this picture were caused when Jazz ventured too far on the ice shelf at the lochside, it cracked and she fell in. The result is nicer that the one when everything was still: she has her uses!

This rough track eventually joins the forest drive that comes in from Stinchar Bridge. This is very easy walking and was completely deserted of traffic.  I hadn’t realised we had climbed so much on the hill track, but it felt like it was one long downhill saunter from here.

Loch Riecawr

Jazz on wrong summit: keen but daft

Lichen on larch

Carrick Forest Drive

We stopped for a late lunch at the nice picnic area overlooking Loch Riecawr.  The view from here of the hills of the Awful Hand is usually great but today the mist obscured the tops.  Here in the trees the wildlife started to emerge.  We had vocal flocks of Crossbills, Goldcrests, Siskins and Coal Tits, a family party of Whooper Swans on the loch, and a few Black Grouse flying off. Further down the drive we came across a layby and information board. 2 This was a project funded by the Famous Black Grouse whisky and was a lek for the public to view these birds in their spring displays. I’m not a whisky drinker but this struck me as a fantastic use of their publicity budget: Jazz and I gave it our full-throated approval.

The drive continues passed our final loch of the day: the small but lovely Loch Gower. It then continues down to Loch Doon with views over to the Rhinns of Kells developing as we go. Finally, we have a few km along the lochside road back to the car. At this time of year we had the road to ourselves and enjoyed the silence.

Tree reflections in Loch Gower

Loch Doon and Rhinns of Kells

Forest stream. Typical Galloway

Loch Doon


  1. Judging by the lack of tracks this isn’t your normal commuter route. I would suggest you have either a well-sprung bike or backside — this is rough ground.
  2. I’m a sucker for these: I just have to go read them.
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