Walk 75 – Lady Hunter Blair’s Walk, Straiton – 2 miles

UPDATE MARCH 2020: THIS AREA OF WOODLAND IS HAVING LARCH TREES REMOVED TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF THE LARCH TREE DISEASE. FORESTRY & LAND SCOTLAND HAS ISSUED A NOTICE ORDERING THE LANDOWNER TO REMOVE THE LARCH TREES IN THE GLEN. DUE TO THE GLEN BEING NARROW AND STEEP AND THE WALK IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE (source: South Ayrshire Council)

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One of those hidden gems Ayrshire has to offer! This is an easy walk starting in the village of Straiton and taking you into a wooded glen to visit some surprisingly spectacular waterfalls.  The ground surface is a mixture of tarmac roads and woodland footpaths with several sets of steps.  

Print  Dog-friendly walk (*I would recommend you start the walk at the parking area off B741/Dalmelington Road in order to avoid walking along the B road – see photos and route description below)

Car park off Kirkmichael Road, Straiton (KA19 7NF). There is an information board in the car park and some leaflets about walks in the area. Local bus service stops on Main Street, 1 minute from the walk start point.

route image  Route: Leave the car park from the main entrance, cross Kirkmichael Road and turn left (North West). Almost immediately take the road on your right (North East) signposted Fowler’s Croft. Walk along this residential street passing some pretty cottages on your left-hand side and a small burn on your right-hand side. At the end of the road follow a narrow track straight ahead into the trees (path not shown on map). You will emerge onto B741/Dalmellington Road. Turn left (East) and walk along the roadside for 750m. Shortly after passing a farm road on your right, you will come to a small parking area on your left-hand side [*the walk can be shortened and the B road avoided by parking here]. You will see a footpath leading through a dry stone wall to a picnic bench. From the picnic bench follow the track right (North East) which will lead you into the woods and past a series of lovely waterfalls. The Lambdoughty Burn should be on your left-hand side. After approx 500m cross a footbridge and follow the footpath West along the other side of the burn, this time with several sets of steps and footbridges keeping things interesting. Eventually the path reaches it’s lowest point at a large footbridge and starts to head quite steeply uphill back to the picnic bench. From here retrace your steps back to the car park.

Lady Blair Hunter, Straiton

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WALK REVIEW: 12th July 2016

I found out about this walk in the same way I do a lot of them: a friend posted some photos on Facebook of somewhere pretty they had been, I asked where it was and kept note of it with the intention of going one day. This time it was my friend Leigh who had been on the same walk several months before. It turned out to be perfect for the kids: short enough for their wee legs to manage and plenty to hold their interest, particularly inside the woodland when I was delighted by their screams of “This is so awesome!” at the sight of the waterfalls 🙂  It was only on the final section back down Dalmellington Road to the car that they stated to complain. Roads are boring, right?!

I was very chuffed to find leaflets at the car park detailing several other short walks which all start form this same place. Ideas for future! There was also a play park which proved to be a big hit with the kids on our return. Oh yes, despite cries of “my legs are sore, I need carried” on the way back, they still miraculously found the energy to run around for an hour afterwards….!!

The Fowler’s Croft cottages are really lovely, I could definitely see myself living there. All of them white and some with beautifully well groomed gardens, situated on a quiet country lane with views across to Highgate Hill and Craigengower with Colonel Hunter Blair’s Monument perched on top. As little boys do, my kids took to picking up big sticks found along the burn and using them as walking sticks! Where they got this idea I do not know, little old men before their time 🙂 In the route description above I mention the possibility of shortening the walk by starting from the small parking area at the entrance to the woods but it would be such a shame to miss out on seeing Fowler’s Croft.

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Reaching the far end of Fowler’s Croft with his walking stick
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The narrow footpath to look out for at the end of Fowler’s Croft

I will admit that  I didn’t really enjoy the walk along Dalmellington Road with the kids. Not that it’s a hugely busy road but there is nonetheless traffic on it and some of the corners are tricky to see around as a walker. A couple of times we had to jump quickly onto the grass to let vehicles pass and I was a paranoid mess making both kids hold my hands until we reached the woods. Part of the problem was no doubt that I hadn’t been here before and wasn’t sure I was going the right way nor how far along this road we had to go. Admittedly on the way back I was less anxious and let them walk along by themselves. There is supposed to be a footpath on the other side of the hedge which runs alongside the road however when we were there it was so overgrown there is no way anyone could have walked on it. It is a shame since a lot of work has been put in to upgrading the Straiton paths in recent years and promoting them (for example the leaflets available at the car park) however there appears to be a lack of maintenance now that the routes are established.

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Stone bridge and bumbling burn which flows alongside the B741/Dalmellington Road
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Small parking area off Dalmellington Road from which you access the woods

The waterfalls are pretty spectacular, real hidden treasures! You would never know that they were there from the road and I found myself very grateful to those responsible for making this a publicly advertised route with such easy access, allowing me to enjoy them. It also makes me wonder where else in Ayrshire such gems are hiding!

As you approach the turning point over Lambdoughty Burn you will find four wood carvings (a fox, an otter, a heron and an owl) made by Kirckmichael sculptor Alan Lees, commissioned by the pupils of Straiton Primary School. At this point the footpath continues further along the burn however at the time of writing after a short distance it became overgrown and seemed to disappear so we just turned back to cross the bridge.

I was particularly fond of the walk down the opposite bank of the burn.It had many quirky features such as steps here and there and little footbridges, one of which my kids particularly liked due to it being very narrow with a barrier at only one side 🙂 It was on this section that we found wild mushrooms and beautiful pink foxgloves.

All in all this is a great short walk, ideal for kids and leaves me keen to try some of the other routes around the Straiton area!

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Steps heading uphill
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Narrow footbridge with a handrail at only one side

Other walks starting in Straiton which you might enjoy:

The Monument and Bennan Circuit – 5 miles

Hill Wood Walk – 4.6 miles

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