Other Routes in the Area
East Ayrshire has a variety of path networks which are suitable for a range of user groups.
These networks take in some of Ayrshire’s finest and varied countryside from river valleys with their wooded gorges to the glacially carved valleys of the Southern Uplands. Ayrshire has many areas and features which provide dramatic and powerful scenery e.g. Loudoun Hill and the Loch Doon mountains.
These routes have proved to be an asset for both local communities and visitors alike.
Local residents will have access to the glorious countryside on their doorstep and tourists will be able to appreciate the beauty of Ayrshire.
Loch Doon and the Doon Valley
Loch Doon is the largest inland loch in Southern Scotland with spectacular scenery. It is approximately 8 miles in length and 3-4 miles in breadth. It is surrounded by rugged mountains and unspoilt landscapes. The “banks of braes of bonnie Doon” were also the inspiration for one of our national bard’s poems.
Loch Doon has been awarded SSI designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest) because of the rare fish, Artic Char that breed in its water. Artic Char are usually native to far northern streams and lakes of North America, Asia, Europe, Iceland and Greenland. It is thought that the population of Artic Char is now genetically distinct from other populations in Scotland.
Loch Doon is surrounded by the Galloway Forest Park. Over 300 square miles of Britain’s largest forest park is waiting to be explored. Moorland, forest and lochs rise to the rugged grandeur of mountains with names like The Merrick, Mullwharcher and the Rhinns of Kells. Loch Doon and the Galloway Forest are home to a variety of birds, mammals and even reptiles. Look out for Nightjar, Golden eagle, Black grouse, Red kite and Osprey as well as Red squirrel, Red deer, Roe deer, Fallow deer, Badger and Otter and even adders.
Much of the land around Loch Doon is owned is managed by the Forestry Commission. Other places of interest in the Doon Valley include:
A spectacular rock gorge which links Craigengillan Estate to Loch Doon. Ness Glen is also a SSSI because of the myriad of rare mosses and ferns which grow there.
Dalcairnie Falls and Auchenroy Hill
Auchenroy Hill offers unsurpassed views over the sea to Arran and Ailsa Craig. The spectacular Dalcairnie Falls are 40 feet high with a sheer drop of 20 feet. Look out for hen harrier and black grouse amongst others here.
Craigengillan is a beautiful estate with meandering paths through a variety of habitats. Look out for red squirrel and deer as you wander through this fabulous estate. Recent bird sightings at Craigengillan include Cuckoos, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Tree Pipits, Whinchat, Redstart, Sedge Warblers, Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Tit and Common Crossbill.
Visit the Ayrshire Birding website for more information on Ayrshire sightings.
An Information Pack for the Doon Valley is available. Please send an SAE with £1 to:
Countryside Services, The Visitor Centre, Dean Castle Country Park, Dean Road, Kilmarnock KA3 1XB.
The Lugar Water
This trail begins in Cumnock and follows Lord Bute’s Walk as it skirts Knockroon Wood and follows the Lugar Water to Ochiltree. This scenic route also takes in the beautiful Dumfries estate
This small village, 5 miles south of Ayr is home to a grand Elizabethan mansion – Hollybush House. The House is set in 37 acres with an extensive scenic woodland walk through the grounds.
Hannahston Pond, Drongan
This community woodland has been developed by East Ayrshire Woodlands and East Ayrshire Council’s Countryside Services Section. The site has over 18 hectares of new native woodland which has been planted as well as housing many wild flowers. Bird and bat boxes have been erected as well as a dipping platform. The wetland at Hannahston provides suitable habitat for a range of bird life including heron, mute swan, mallard and reed bunting.
Kilmarnock Town Trail
Kilmarnock Town Trail – these paths take you through the historical heart of Kilmarnock, taking in some of the town’s most important historic sites.
The Irvine Valley
The Irvine Valley Trail is the main route of paths linking all of the Valley towns. It can be enjoyed as a long walk or there are a smaller series of circular walks around the towns of Darvel, Newmilns, Galston and Hurlford.
The Irvine Valley is a walker’s paradise with a myriad of footpaths through tranquil open countryside, high moorland, dappled riverside and shaded woodland. Expect to see greater spotted woodpecker and dippers, squirrels, deer and weasels. Listen for the rasping call of pheasant. On open moorland search the skies for buzzards and skylarks.
Holmes Loch in Galston is listed as a Scottish Wildlife Trust Site and is a haven for birds and a popular migrating area. Watch out for mallard ducks, gulls, lapwings (peewets) and heron.
The magnificent Lanfine Estate in Darvel with its tree lined avenues was once owned by Thomas Brown, Professor of Botany at Glasgow University thus the estate has been planted with a range of trees and shrubs. Look for weeping ash, weeping elm, beech, dogwood, redwood and Spanish chestnuts.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protected Areas
Much of the River Ayr Way has SSSI designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest) mainly because it passes through fantastic examples of semi natural woodland. Ayr Gorge is one such example as it is one of the finest examples of native woodland in the West of Scotland. It is also home to kingfishers, spotted flycatchers, dippers, grey wagtails and great spotted woodpeckers. May and July provide the best opportunity to see otters, badgers, bats and roe deer.
Glenbuck Loch, the source of the River Ayr has also been awarded SSSI designation because of the fossilised fish in its water. Sightings of osprey have also been reported at Glenbuck. It is hoped that the recent implementation of a wildlife viewing centre at the loch side will help to confirm this.
The Muirkirk Uplands and Airds Moss has been given SPA (Special Protected Area) designation because it is an important ornithological site. Visitors can expect to see hen harrier, merlin, peregrine and red and black grouse in this area.
Local Nature Reserve
Catrine Voes is East Ayrshire’s first local nature reserve. The river provides an ideal habitat for Atlantic Salmon as well as being home to water voles, otters, kingfishers, heron and dippers. Atlantic Salmon begin life in freshwater, head downstream to the ocean and when fully grown, return to the same river each year to give birth. Look out for the salmon run during late March, April and early May and again in the autumn as they begin their journey back to the ocean for the winter.
Contact 01563 554902 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a Core Path Plan pack which details all routes throughout East Ayrshire which cover a distance of over 700kms in total.