Walk 146 – Hill Wood Walk, Straiton – 4-6 miles

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This is a circular walk beginning in the quaint rural Ayrshire village of Straiton. Initially the route heads uphill to follow rough and sometimes overgrown, boggy tracks through an area of woodland. Enjoy fine views down into the village and the Galloway hills beyond. The return leg of the walk loops back into Straiton on a variety of terrain including farm tracks, grassy fields and surfaced roads. Option to shorten the walk to 4 miles described below.

Car parking available just off Kirkmichael Road, Straiton, next to the recreation ground (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, a couple of minutes walk from the route 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 240m before turning left again (North) to cross a stone bridge onto a minor road. The road heads uphill past Hazel Lodge, just beyond which there is a fork. Keep left (North) onto a farm track. Follow this track uphill and after 640m turn left (North West) onto a wide grassy footpath in the trees (very overgrown & boggy in places at the time of writing). This path winds it’s way through a tree-lined corridor. Keep right (North) at a fork 1km along (only shown on OS map). After another 1.5km you will emerge at a gate. Pass through the gate and turn left (South) to follow a surfaced road downhill and past Altizourie farm to the B7045/Kirkmichael Road. [For 4 mile option and to avoid the field crossing, turn left (South East) here and return to Straiton via the B7045]. Crossing the road, continue almost straight ahead (West) onto a gravel track. Soon after passing Bishopland Lodge, turn left (South) at a fork and after 340m you will reach a gate at the entrance to a field. Continue ahead to cross the field keeping close to the boundary fence on your right-hand side. The field takes the shape of a small hill and you will be walking around the base of it. Pass into a second field via a gate then head South East towards a circle of trees ahead. Keep right to go around the trees then continue East across the field to a gate which leads to B7045. Go through the gate and turn right (South) along B7045. After 300m take the second right (West) and walk along this road to reach The Old Bridge of Blairquhan over the Water of Girvan. Cross the bridge then turn left (South). You will reach a crossroads at the B741. Cross over and continue straight ahead (South). Take the first road on your left (East), signposted Bennan Stay on this road until you have passed through Bennan farm then turn left (East) and follow the track along until you reach Newton Stewart Road. Turn left (North) onto Newton Stewart Road and when you reach the war memorial turn left (North West) onto Main Street/B741. Walk through the village to reach the car park, 400m along on the left-hand side.

Hill Wood Walk, Straiton
Map image for 6 mile loop

WALK REPORT: 11th July 2017

A while back I picked up a leaflet containing several walks in the Straiton area, one of which was the Hill Wood Walk. I’d enjoyed my previous rambles in the area so knew this one would be no different.

The initial climb out of the village was perhaps steeper and longer than I had anticipated, so we were grateful for the lovely view at the top for a chance to catch our breath. After a little bit of confusion due to the Hill Wood path being quite overgrown and “not possibly where we need to go” we determined that it was indeed the way and set off into the jungle.

Somehow whilst inside the Hill Wood I managed to lose mum! It was the most impossible path ever to lose someone on, but we managed it. To set the scene, here is what the path was like……

…basically a (very overgrown!) tree-lined corridor continuing for 1.5 miles with nowhere to go either side. I needed to use the bathroom, found a suitable spot, told mum, she said ok and continued along the path, I did my business, came out from the trees two minutes later and picked up the pace to catch up. Where the hell is she? I thought as I followed the path around yet another bend . No sign of her! I stopped and checked behind me. Nothing. I listened for crunching or swishing of grass or any sort of noise to signify another person was near…. just an eerie silence. Muuuum?!  I called out…. not a peep in reply. I knew I hadn’t passed her, and I knew there had been no alternative paths, so she must be ahead of me. Yet I knew that she wouldn’t usually go so far ahead without waiting…. Has she been dragged into the trees by some mad man?  All sorts of things went through my head and I didn’t know whether to keep walking or start heading back. I was going to have to try and phone her! Just as I reached for my mobile it rang, ‘Mum’ flashing on the screen. Turned out she had decided to go to the loo as well just along from where I’d stopped! Could only happen to us….!

The route described in the leaflet was not a circular – it appeared to end when you emerged out of the Hill Wood at the main road. The return options seemed to be to retrace your steps back through Hill Wood or walk along the busy B road, neither of which appealed to me in the slightest.  So I devised my own circular walk from here, and the result was better than I could have imagined!  (I did boast to my mum that in my very biased opinion the return section was far more interesting and enjoyable than the published walk from the leaflet ;-) ) There was wildlife-a-plenty: dragonflies, bees, butterflies, heron, a bird of prey (need to swot up on my birds!) and some beautiful areas of wild flowers.

When we reached the field I became a little nervous as there wasn’t actually a path or track across it. Although on our particular visit there were what appeared to be fresh landrover tracks which had flattened the grass enough to leave a trail for us to follow. We soon found out why: the farmer was out. He turned out to be really nice and even paused, puffing away at his pipe, to hold a gate open for us.

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Field crossing with sheep present

After coming off the field we were back onto surfaced minor roads and gravel tracks. Highlights included crossing the Old Bridge of Blairquhan and fine views across the fields to Monument Hill (a walk for a different day!)

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The Old Bridge of Blairquhan
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This was taken standing on the bridge with the Water of Girvan flowing beneath me, the onwards track visible to the right and a lovely view across to Monument Hill 
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Heading towards Bennan Farm

We both loved the very last section of the walk through Straiton. Despite parking next to the recreation ground several times in the past for walks or visits to the play park, this was my first time actually passing through the village itself.  Rows of quaint cottages with tiny little gardens to the front. A real ‘olde worlde’ feel about it.

And no walk would be complete without a visit to the local public toilets (even though, as you have read, we definitely shouldn’t have needed to go yet!) It turns out that they are run by locals, having been closed by the council in 2008. Apparently it costs £3500 to run every year and they rely solely on donations. We loved this little poem inside which got the message across in a lighthearted way :-)

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Cottages on Straiton Main Street
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Poem inside the public loos

Read about my other walks in the Straiton area:


16 thoughts on “Walk 146 – Hill Wood Walk, Straiton – 4-6 miles

  1. Looks like a great walk, nice bit of mud to wade through as well :) I hate it when paths venture across fields and the paths are not well marked, always convinced I’ve gone wrong and will have an angry farmer racing towards me :)

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    1. Yeah field crossings can be iffy. Do you use ViewRanger? I use it to plan out my routes and it showed a path across these fields so I knew that it was a right of way and didn’t have that farmer fear going on. I’d never venture across a field otherwise. Just on case 😉

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  2. Having previously undertaken the Lady Hunter Blair’s walk, I was keen to come back to the walks of Straiton, so off we went on this one! I thought the initial hill might defeat my mum. While she’s as fit as a fiddle and part of a walking group, I have to remind myself she’s in her 70s! After a couple of breath catching stops we got to the top. What great views over to Maybole! The forest stretch was particularly boggy, which was surprising given how little rainfall there’s been, but as my son said, it made the walk exciting having to navigate huge muddy puddles! Another great walk Gillian. Lambs aplenty for the kids to “aw” at and good varied terrain. And, as we got to the end of the walk and spotted three tiny humans halfway up Craigengower, the kids and I agreed that that Craigengower and the water of Straiton will be a “Gillian’s Walk” for the future, albeit without my mum, who wasn’t keen on the prospect of the climb!

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  3. One visit to Straiton and most people look forward to their next walk there, I just love it! The initial hill is a bit of a killer. Well done your mum! I agree that the view at the top makes it all worthwhile (and a great excuse to stop for a breather). I too am surprised by the bogs given the dry weather of late, but it is possible that it just never dries out up there. Glad your son saw the fun in them! Enjoy Craigengower when you go, look forward to hearing how you get on! I’m sure you’ll love it 😊

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  4. Hi Gillian, have read your description of this walk and, as very regular walker of Straiton, I was sad to see that you have rerouted the published walk through Blairquhan estate, mentioning Bishopland Lodge and then into a field. This is not a waymarked walk and folks who are not familiar with the area may struggle to get back through to the village without ending up stuck or lost! I think it’s great what you are doing to promote walking but while some may not like a linear route, I feel that people need to know that this not a great alternative!

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    1. Hi Samantha.

      Thanks for your message and outlining your concerns. Many of the walks on my website are not way-marked routes and what I do is write about the route I personally took. I try to describe it as accurately as I can for the very reason to avoid people getting stuck or lost. As well as providing a link to the exact route on Viewranger which they can follow on their mobile phone should they wish.

      When I did this walk and passed through the field in question I actually came into contact with the farmer who was out on his quad bike doing some work and who very kindly held open a gate for me, suggesting that he was more than happy for me to (responsibly) pass through the field.

      In addition, the route was approved in 2018 by Rachel Shipley, Outdoor Access Officer for South Ayrshire, as well as the owner of Milton House in the Blairquhan Estate, following an adjustment I made to it to direct walkers out of the field into B7045 and then right through a wooden gate towards the Old Bridge of Blairquhan, continuing along my described route from there.

      I hope this goes some way to alleviating your concerns. What I will also do, as soon as I am allowed to travel to South Ayrshire, is walk the route again and try to follow my own directions. That will highlight to me any of the description that might need more explanation in order to ensure nobody gets lost if they are following them.

      Thanks
      Gillian

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      1. Thanks for responding to my comments Gillian and explaining your process. Appreciated.

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      2. Hi Gillian
        I agree with Samantha Briggs comment regarding the rerouted section from Bishopland Lodge to return to B 7045. We set out to walk around Loch Bradan anti clock wise, but as my wife could not climb over a locked gate at the start of the walk, so we decided to do Walk 146 – Hill Wood Walk, Straiton as a backup. As this is not a way marked section we were struggling to get back to the B 7045. Along came a big man on a quad bike to the rescue and put us on the correct track. When we found our way back to the B 7045 we turned right then took the next right, which turned out to be a big private house. As we were passing the big house an angry and snooty man ran out saying I would prefer if you didn’t walk your dog here. I said I must have turned right too soon. He said you should read your map better. I would therefore recommend updating you rout to say “go through the gate and turn right (South) along B7045, after 300m turn SECOND right (West)”. Walk along this road to reach The Old Bridge of Blairquhan over the Water of Girvan. This may save some embarrassment.

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      3. Hi Ian,

        Thanks for your message and suggested update, which I have now made. My description now includes the information that the correct route is second right rather than just saying that it is 300m along. I will also return to Straiton and check out my instructions for the field crossing to try and make them clearer. I haven’t managed to do that since Samantha’s original message, it has been on my to-do list ever since. Can I ask, were you using the route description in combination with a map (such as the option I include on my website to download the route to your mobile and follow it)? Or were you using the written instructions alone?

        Thanks again for your valuable feedback,
        Gillian

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      4. Hi Gillian
        I was using your route description of a couple of years ago before the updates and O. S. Landranger 77. We had not noticed the 2nd gate to the South East and the 3rd gate to the East, so we tried to find away through back to the B7045 towards Balminnoch. We did this walk as a backup to a 10 km circular around Loch Bradan because we could not gain access in the anti clock wise direction around the Loch.

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