Cleughearn Forestry Walk, Whitelee Windfarm – 2.9 miles

A pleasant walk around one of the quieter areas of forestry within the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. Starting at the parking area just off Ardochrig Road (near Strathaven), you soon find yourself on a mossy track through the trees. In this area it is possible to spot jay, bullfinch, merlin, peregrine, roe deer, and occasionally goldeneye ducks on the ponds! 

Print  Dog-friendly walk

Cleughearn Forestry Walk, Whitelee

viewranger-logo-new-jan-2017 Follow a map of this route on your mobile phone by downloading it HERE

parking-available-icon  Small parking area off Ardochrig Road (nearest postcode G75 0QN)

route image  Route: Go through the gate at the end of the parking area and onto the Spine Road. After passing the power station turn right at the fork, onto the track signposted for Cleughearn Road. Keep a look out for a small pond where dragonflies can sometimes be spotted! After half a mile look out for a narrower track on the right where on a clear day there will also be a nice view down towards East Kilbride.  At a clearing in the trees this pleasant track crosses a stream then bends to the right back into forestry. Continue along this mossy and sometimes muddy footpath until you emerge out onto open moorland with a view across to several wind turbines. Turn left here and almost immediately look out for a narrow grassy track to the right which heads across the moorland. After passing some ponds you will emerge onto Cleughearn Road. Turn left and follow this road all the way back to the parking area. 

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WALK REVIEW: 5th March 2017

My relationship with Whitelee began over 5 years ago when my baby and I became regulars at their Tuesday morning Stroller Striders walk. Since stopping that (both my sons are now too big for prams) I have returned many times both to enjoy the landscape and to take part in events held at the Visitor Centre. In July 2016 I was introduced to the Ardochrig Road entrance when I parked up to enjoy a 15 mile traverse across the windfarm as part of the National Ranger Day celebrations. It was an area of the windfarm I had never explored before and personally I found it to be the more scenic, tranquil and interesting side.

Following that hike I heard via Ranger Rennie Mason that a new path was being prepared off Ardochrig Road and I was excited to try it out. It somehow took me 7 months to get around to it (!) however it was well worth the wait. Why did it take me so long? Giving it some thought, I think I had made up my mind that Ardochrig Road was a pain to get to from where I live in Ayrshire; that the journey was so much longer than that to the visitor centre. In reality it was super easy! Google Maps saved the day when it planted the idea of going via the A71 through the Irvine Valley. If you are thinking of doing this walk and live in Ayrshire then I would recommend heading toward Strathaven and onto Ardochrig Road from the A71. It takes slightly longer but it is so simple.

Onto the walk itself….. What really struck me was that for the most part I wasn’t aware of being in a windfarm.  My mum refuses to come to Whitelee with me because she finds the walks around the visitor centre uninteresting: she would (and will when I bring her!) enjoy this one! You do get the occasional glimpse of some wind turbines, but for the most part it is an area rich in forestry and that brings with it a multitude of possibilities when it comes to spotting wildlife and plants. My friend Nicola and I weren’t lucky on this visit, we didn’t spot anything. Actually, being honest it was nothing to do with poor luck; we had lots of catching up to do and were therefore being far too noisy!

Other things I enjoyed about this walk: the mossy footpath which gave me the impression I was walking on a carpet; the fact that nobody else was using it or even seemed to be aware of it’s existence; walking alongside the ponds in the middle of the moorland; the sense of adventure I got from exploring a new place!

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Cleughearn was well signposted from the Spine Road
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We both loved the silvery hue on the needles of these evergreens
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It was evident that a huge deal of work had been carried out by the Rangers to make this trail passable, not least in forming ‘bridges’ over the two streams which would otherwise run across it.
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This was pretty much the point at which I deemed this walk was not buggy friendly 😀 However I wouldn’t change it for the world; look how natural and beautiful it is!
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It wouldn’t be one of ‘Gillian’s Walks’ without some mud to negotiate 😉
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One of the ponds on the way back to Cleughearn Road. I really enjoyed this section across the moorland. Next time I will stop gossiping and hopefully see some wildlife!

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Cleughearn Forestry Walk, Whitelee Windfarm – 2.9 miles

  1. I did this walk the other week, although I thought I was going the wrong way through the second part of the woods, I turned back and then across the open moors to turn bine 139. We saw lots of wildlife, even a deer came out of the woods onto the track and Cinder and it had a good stare out.
    On another point you mention Gillian, an easier way to get there is take the road on the right just as you go out of Darvel, up past the cemetery. This takes you up round the back of Loudon Hill, then take the fork to the right, follow this road and then you reach the road from Stravhen just at the riding stables. This is a really nice drive and I’ve seen lots of deer, hares, pheasants also responsible really on this road.
    There is some other walks along this route also

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    1. Thanks for the tip, I’ll try that road next time 👍 Wow I’m jealous that you saw lots of wildlife on the walk; I’ll need to be quieter next time to have a chance of spotting anything. Did you enjoy the walk?

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