Walk 162 – Ness Glen, Loch Doon – 1.8 miles

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An astonishingly beautiful short walk through a deep wooded glen following the River Doon as it begins it's journey between Loch Doon and the Firth of Clyde at Doonfoot, Ayr. Expect waterfalls a-plenty! Form a loop by returning to the start via the hill path. The footpaths are uneven and narrow in places and you can expect boggy conditions on the hill path. Be sure to take a camera as there are MANY photo opportunities! 

Print  Dog-friendly walk (note: fast-flowing river with waterfalls)

  Parking area at the Roundhouse cafe, Loch Doon (KA6 7QE). No public transport to start point.

Ness Glen

WALK REPORT: 27th Nov 2017

We recently started a weekly rotation system in our little family which has been working out well…. Each weekend someone takes a turn choosing an activity for us all to take part in. So far the kids have been pony trekking and ceramic painting, we have played football at sunset on Irvine beach, had an afternoon of colouring-in and been to Smyths Toys Store to buy boxing gloves, a punch bag and lego…… Varied, I am sure you will agree…. I definitely won’t need to tell you that when it came to mummy’s choice, we were going on a family walk somewhere. I have a long list of places I can’t wait to show them, enough walks to last all of my turns for at least a year 😀

This particular weekend however, we ended up at Ness Glen – somewhere that hadn’t been on my original list, nor had I even been aware of it’s existence to be completely honest. It was more a question of location that led to us going there. Some parts of Ayrshire had been blessed with snow and I wanted to take the kids sledging. Despite not  a single snowflake having fallen where we live, I had seen a photo on social media of a beautiful winter wonderland in Glen Afton, New Cumnock the previous day – only a 45 minute drive from us. However I had seen similar photos from the Dalmellington area and made up my mind to head in that direction, since it meant we could stop by Dobbies in Ayr en route to pick up this year’s Christmas tree 🙂 I had a quick look online for walks around Dalmellington and stumbled across Ness Glen. The photos on the Walkhighlands report sold it instantly and I was so excited to go and check it out. Off we set with a car load of thermals, sledges and hiking shoes.

As soon as we hit Dalmellington it was like driving into a different world. From no snow to thick snow within minutes. Reaching Loch Doon it became much more patchy owing to the fact that it sits lower down than the village however we somehow still managed a few runs on the sledge and the kids had a ball playing in what was left of the snow.

Loch Doon: what a place! It’s the largest inland loch in southern Scotland. Did you even know that scenery like this existed in East Ayrshire?!

We bought a few snacks at the Roundhouse cafe (takeaway only, no muddy boots allowed, friendly staff, tasty food!) and set off on the walk. I was speechless at the sheer beauty of our surroundings: A blanket of autumn leaves lined the footpath turning the floor into a sea of orange; the walls of the glen were bright green with moss; the River Doon was a ‘raging torrent’ which I felt sure could compete with many popular white water rafting destinations! Waterfalls, little wooden footbridges, I just couldn’t stop taking photographs! I couldn’t believe I had never come here before. My husband will unfortunately most likely remember this walk as the one on which he injured himself really badly. He was standing on a footbridge taking a photo and stepped back without looking, his leg falling right through a gap where a rung was missing from the bridge floor. Several weeks later and the bruising is still visible!


It was late afternoon by the time we reached the halfway point and we were conscious of fading daylight so our return journey along the hill path was a speedy one. It became obvious just how sheltered we had been down in the glen as snow now covered the boardwalks and normally boggy footpaths up here.

Nighttime beckons!

I left Ness Glen with an immense feeling of pride at having a place of such outstanding natural beauty in the very county where I live. I just want to take everyone I know there and shout from the rooftops about it. On returning home I initially referred to it as a hidden gem, but in fact it is not hidden at all! It turns out to be very well signposted locally: I have since noticed signage for Ness Glen on the A77 near Ayr which I have driven past countless times and ignored. It just goes to show that even for someone who LOVES the outdoors and walking, there is so much in Ayrshire that I have yet to discover, even places which have been right under my nose for my whole life.

Go visit Ness Glen, then tell everyone you know about it!

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