Walk 158 – The Monument and Bennan Circuit, Straiton – 5 miles

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Water of Girvan with Craigengower and it’s summit obelisk visible in the background

Whilst in the village of Straiton you cannot help but wonder about the monument atop Craigengower (331m / 1086ft). This circular walk takes you up it’s steep slopes to the summit before a more gentle descent towards the Water of Girvan, returning to the start via pleasant riverside and woodland trails. This walk can be very boggy. Several kissing gates on the route. Distance of 5 miles includes an optional de-tour to Bennan Hill viewpoint (4.2 miles otherwise).

Print  Dog-friendly route (high possibility of livestock at several points – please be a responsible dog owner and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access code). Avoid taking dogs on this route during lambing season.

  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:  From the public car park in Straiton next to the playing fields, turn right (South East) onto B741/Main Street. Walk through the village, past the church, village store and cafe and turn right (South East) at the war memorial onto Newton Stewart Road. Just past the school go through the kissing gate on the left. Follow a grassy track up over the field towards the trees then follow the tree-line South East to a gate at the top of the hillside. Way-markers lead you through the forest to a stile beneath the steep slope of Craigengower. The path to the summit is obvious ahead and emerges in front of the Obelisk. Zig-zag your way down the south side of the hill following tall wooden way-markers. On reaching a gravel track next to Kildoach Burn turn right (West) and descend to a steep grassy slope. Head towards a kissing gate in the hedge at the bottom of this slope. This leads directly onto Newton Stewart Road. Cross the road and turn left (South) to walk along the grass verge for a short distance. Look out for a kissing gate on your right. Pass through the gate then pick up a faint path South West across the grass and a boardwalk bridge. Follow the course of the Water of Girvan to another kissing gate. The river should be on your right-hand side. A narrow earth (sometimes overgrown) footpath takes you along the edge of the river and up some wooden steps (in need of repair at the time of writing) to reach a minor road at Craigfad Bridge. Turn right (West) along the road and at the first corner turn right (North) onto a farm track between Craigfad Cottage and Little Garroch. Continue along this track through Bennan Woods for approx 1 mile, passing through several gates, to reach a fork. Keep left (North West) at the fork to follow the way-marked route along a boggy footpath. 800m along there is an optional detour to the top of Bennan Hill which is clearly signposted – it is a fairly steep climb to the top with nice views en route although the trees block much of the view at the summit itself. If you wish to try it take the left fork (North West) at the sign and look out for a left turn 150m along. This path takes you to the summit. Return via the same path to the sign and turn left (North) to continue the route. After passing through an area of felled trees along a forestry track, you will reach a gate leading into a field. Follow the track along the field boundary for 100m before turning right (North) to follow it down the centre of the field towards Bennan Farm. The road passes through the farm and 200m beyond it look out for a kissing gate on the right (signposted “Car Parks”). Follow this narrow footpath with a burn on your right-hand side, to reach the Water of Girvan. Cross the large footbridge and continue walking straight ahead (North East) along the edge of the field, with the burn on your left. Go through the gate at the other side of the field and pass a cottage to reach Main Street. Turn left (North West) to return to the public car park in Straiton.

Craigengower, Straiton

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WALK REPORT: 24th October & 19th November 2017

Straiton has become a firm favourite of mine when it comes to walkability, it is no wonder it is known as ‘Rambler Territory’! A quaint Ayrshire village, hills to explore, riverside rambles, boggy trails, woodland walks… Straiton really has it all. On all of my previous visits, Craigengower had teased me with it’s attractive curves and eye-catching obelisk. I had to get up there!

My first visit to the top of Craigengower (although at the time I didn’t know this was it’s name!) was with Sally, Shona and the pooches shown in the photo below, all of whom came along to explore the route with me. We had unfortunately chosen a rainy day so not only did we experience extremely boggy underfoot conditions but we also ended up soaked through. I think we all still enjoyed the day though, I certainly did! We were treated to a beautiful rainbow which was present for most of our ascent and the views opened up every now and again offering us a glimpse of what might be seen in better conditions. The descent was memorable: wind and rain blasted us straight in the face the entire way down. Why I thought it was a good idea to apply mascara that morning I have no idea! We live and learn….

My walking companions for the day – October 2017
“The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow”

I vowed to return on a better-weather day. I didn’t think that day would be 19th November but so it was to be! My friend Eve and I were in Straiton planning to explore the “hill track to Patna” which I had seen mentioned on the Ayrshire Paths website and wanted to check out. According to my research it was an ancient route across moorland which was set to become part of “The Carrick Way” at some time in the future. It took some effort but eventually I found a digital map of the route which I could transfer onto an app on my phone and off we set. I knew the first section already because I had walked it when doing the Hill Wood route in July. Thereafter we would be venturing into the unknown and to be completely honest we didn’t know whether it was even possible. It didn’t take long for the answer to become clear:  a big, fat NO! Dense forestry coupled with saturated mossy moorland = no can do.

Plan B: take Eve up Craigengower! The weather was far better this time around and although the ground was still extremely boggy the views were stunning and it was even calm enough to sit on the base of the obelisk for lunch :-)

Craigengower (meaning “the Hill of the Goats” in Gaelic)
View from halfway up. The pointed tree-covered peak to the left is Bennan Hill. It is known as a local “viewpoint” however I use inverted commas because on our visit the trees obscured most of the view and so we were rather disappointed. Especially that the path to the top is pretty steep! 
Summit obelisk – a monument to Lt. Col. James Hunter Blair mortally wounded at the Battle of Inkerman in 1854
The first time I was here it was no place to be hanging around. We took a few photos and set off into a headwind. Second time around and it was warm enough to enjoy a sandwich with a view! The village of Straiton can be seen straight ahead. And top right is the forestry we had attempted (and failed) to walk through to reach Patna!

On both occasions I was grateful for the way markers making navigation down the south side of the hill really easy! I also fell in love with the view across the Straiton hills (more of which I want to explore!) and the Water of Grivan winding it’s way through the valley below.  South Ayrshire is just such an incredible walking destination!!

Welcome way marker and oh what a view across the stunning Ayrshire countryside.  

Coming down off the hill it felt really strange to turn left and follow the river in the opposite direction to the village where our cars were parked…. If it hadn’t been for my trusty pre-plotted route I would have had serious doubts! It turned out to be such a lovely walk though, very muddy but lovely.

Love a stone bridge! 
Gates of every description were a big feature of this walk! This photo shows how wet the underfoot conditions were. 
Gorgeous view across the river to knobly Craigengower and it’s obelisk where we had sat for lunch

Check out my other walks in South Ayrshire

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