Walk 54 – Glengavel Reservoir to Darvel – 9.5 miles

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This walk begins at the tranquil and picturesque Glengavel Reservoir and goes via Bankend Rig Windfarm to end near Randoldcoup Bridge in Darvel. It is a challenging walk mainly due to the distance covered but as the landscape is so varied there is lots to keep you entertained. The terrain ranges from no path at all to quiet country roads. You will be rewarded with views across to Loudoun Hill, Whitelee Windfarm and Isle of Arran on a clear day. You will also cross over the humble beginnings of the Avon Water which runs into the River Clyde when it eventually reaches Hamilton!

Print  Dog-friendly walk (Note: there can be lots of livestock at times)

  Small parking area at Glengavel Reservoir as well as a lay-by on the B743 near the entrance to the reservoir. Public car park on Randoldcoup Road in Darvel close to end of walk. No public transport to start point. It is recommended to have a car at each end.

Route map

WALK REPORT: 15th May 2016 & 20th August 2022

I did this walk with my sister as part of the Irvine Valley Walking Festival 2016 (now renamed to Valley Walkfest). I purposely chose this one because it was one of the longer and more strenuous walks on the calendar and I was also keen to explore this part of the Irvine Valley, having only walked as far as Loudoun Hill to date.

We were a group of around 12 people of mixed ages and abilities with several walk guides showing us the way. They were very informative about the local area and what to expect on the walk, as well as being able to suggest other walks for me to do in the Irvine Valley. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk although found the section through the windfarm a little less interesting than the rest. That said, I loved the variety of different terrains and landscapes and would definitely return to any of the other sections of the walk to explore more. I look forward to attending more of these annual Walking Festivals in the years to come and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in walks in the Irvine Valley.

I returned in August 2022 with a friend, following a report from someone who follows my blog that there had been some tree felling on the route. The section in question was at the top of the clearing in the forest near Glengavel Reservoir. Luckily that is at the start of the walk so I knew I wouldn’t need to go far to check it out.

It turns out that the vegetation growth between May and August is quite significant and we had some trouble finding the path from the wooden huts! It was hidden among head-high fern. I then couldn’t remember the exact route we’d taken 6 years previous to reach the turbine. It was a pathless section but not too strenuous, until we reached the top of the clearing and tried to get across to the turbine. Trees had indeed been felled and by now the ground was a mass of tussocky grass, heather and hidden tree stumps with some spiky branches blocking the way in places for good measure. We took our time and made it across, relieved to see the windfarm tracks for our onwards journey.

So some tweaks would therefore be needed to my route description. There is another clearing in the forest a short way up from the huts which misses out the area of felled trees. On checking that out, it is definitely the preferred option. Not easy mind you – there is no path through the tussocky heather – but definitely simpler to describe the route and avoids anyone having to cross the burn or fight their way through felled trees. It also shortens the route by about half a mile, since it cuts out a corner.

We saw loads of buzzards this time around, and made a pitt stop at the pond inside the windfarm where we watched dragonflies as we munched on our sandwiches. I hadn’t remembered passing through so many farmyards last time so that was a bit of a surprise, although all of the farmers we met were very friendly.

A highlight of the walk has to be the viewpoint across the Long Cairn – it appears out of nowhere amongst the farmland!

Enjoy the photos….

View across Glengavel Reservoir
Glengavel Reservoir
Group walking along a wide grassy footpath towards the forest
Footpath at the reservoir, heading towards the forest
Abandoned wooden huts
As you leave the reservoir behind to head into the forest you will see these abandoned little wooden huts
A hillside of thick, high fern hiding the path
Can you spot the path through the fern? It didn’t stay like this for long. On reaching the treeline the fern was replaced by heather and grasses.
Windfarm track and turbines
Track through Bankend Rig Windfarm
Looking down towards the quarry in Bankend Rig Windfarm
Quarry used to create the roads through the wind farm
A view along the Avon water as it snakes through the glen
The humble beginnings of the Avon Water, which flows into River Clyde after it’s long and winding journey from here to Hamilton 🙂
Walkers crossing the footbridge over the Tulloch Burn
Footbridge across Tulloch Burn. The burn actually runs across the path, creating a Ford, as you can see on the left of the photo.
View along the Long Cairn
The Long Cairn – dating back some 5000 years, it is thought to be the longest chambered cairn in Scotland
My sister and another lady from the group walking down a single track road out in the Darvel countryside
The gentle walk down into Darvel at the end of the day. Just love how lush and green the countryside here  can be.

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