After awful weather yesterday, it was good to get out and walk in the dry today. The route was a forestry circuit I strung together while munching on the toast and marmalade. Thorough planning is essential! Today we would have a wander up the Stinchar valley to the falls and then loop round via Linfern Loch: nice forest tracks and paths all the way – or so my OS map promised.
We parked at South Balloch beside the Stinchar. This is sheep country so Jazz was on the lead until we got into the forest. After heading south towards the Nick of the Balloch we took the forest track towards Aldinna. This was in much better condition that the roads we’d been navigating to get here. 1 This bit of the forest has lots of Larch which makes a nice contrast to the usual blanket spruce. Unfortunately large sections of the glen are being felled and it’s a right-old mess. After passing Aldinna and Black Row sheep farms we are back in forestry and Jazz is liberated from the lead again.
The track stays close to the Stinchar and is in great condition so we zoomed past the Stinchar Falls. That’s the problem with using a 1:25000 map: you cover ground quickly. So a bit of a backtrack and scramble over tree roots to get to Falls. Jazz and I had been here (on the other side) back in November 2009 2 and had been underwhelmed. Well, it’s even worse on this side – so don’t bother – there are many better waterfalls in the area. At this point Jazz was doing a fantastic mime of a dog starving to death so we headed on to Linfern Loch: our lunch stop.
Linfern Loch is a reasonable sized fishing loch in the middle of the forest with the OS map showing a track and path leading to it. This track wasn’t of the standard we’d been used to all day. Even the FCS got in on the deception by putting a route sign pointing the way to it. It’s not too bad, but clearly isn’t a major highway – we didn’t see any footprints in the muddy bits. The only life was a couple of Black Grouse and a Woodcock flying off from the trees beside the path: nice. The loch itself was still and unremarkable. A few Goldeneye were on it but soon scarpered when Jazz went in for a pre-lunch wash.
After lunch we headed around the loch (ugh) to rejoin the track on the other side. The only thing of note was a bunch of rocks covered in Otter scat which got the attention of the canine’s nose. Sadly, no sign of the depositor, but there was lots of it around. The picture on the right is Jazz sniffing one of the rocks: notice her nice new Spring trim – she can brush up well.
After following the forestry track we had planned to take a path down the Dalquhairn Burn back to the car. This is where the OS idea of a path diverges from mine. If you squinted you might convinced yourself (but not Jazz) that this faint animal track through the heather was the path. Maybe not. On leaving the forest we are back into sheep country (you know what that means Jazz) and a squelchy slog back to the road at the wonderfully named but dull Sally Pollock’s Bridge – it’s certainly not Ayrshire’s answer to the Millau Bridge.
So the walk was nice and quiet but hardly going to entice us back.
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