TERRAIN: A mixture of good solid surfaces and boggy moorland with several gates and stiles to climb (some stiles in disrepair on last visit and locked gates required climbing).
Ample on-street parking on Neilston Road, Uplawmoor or at the Uplawmoor Hotel if you plan on doing lunch before/after the walk (G78 4AF). Closest train station is in Neilston and from there you can travel by bus to the walk start point.
WALK REPORT: 24TH FEBRUARY 2018
Who even knew that a village called Uplawmoor existed?! Tucked away in the south western extremity of East Ren, this pretty, rural little place just makes it out of Ayrshire. All the more surprising that I had never come across it before! In any case, that’s where I was meeting my friend Nicola today. Google maps took me on the 34 minute drive along the A736 from Kilmarnock. En route I was surprised to pass two restaurants I had been to – The Blair and The Canny Man (now permanently closed). Isn’t is great when the map in your head suddenly all comes together! A sharp right-hand turn into Uplawmoor almost resulted in a coach smashing into the back of me….. hadn’t the driver seen me indicating for the past mile??? Sake!
Blessed with a beautiful crisp sunny day, Nicola and I set off to discover the Lochliboside Hills. The leaflet promised fine views and boggy tracks. Perfect 😀 Before starting to head uphill, we were surprised by the sound of bagpipes. A wedding?? No, just a piper – dressed in normal everyday clothes – out in his garden practicing! It was very surreal.
The route took us almost full-circle around 16th century Caldwell Tower, sitting majestically on the hillside. It is thought that it was once part of a larger courtyard-style castle. Unfortunately when seen from the back, this eye-catching building reveals a rather (in my opinion) ugly pale blue wooden extension….. not at all in keeping with the original stonework.
From here the footwork became more challenging with boggy conditions underfoot as we crossed the hillside. There was slight confusion at one point about which fence we were supposed to be following but we eventually worked it out. We were treated to lovely views in all directions: East across Glasgow’s southside; South to Loch Libo and Ayrshire; and West to the rolling hills above Largs and Lochwinnoch. It was then a straightforward walk along minor roads back to Uplawmoor village. We crossed over the former Lanarkshire and Ayrshire railway, opened in sections between 1888-1904 to provide a shorter route for mineral traffic heading to Ardrossan Harbour. These always fascinate me and I loved that this one looked to be in a good walkable condition (rather than having been covered in tarmac and converted into a cycle track as so often happens with dismantled railways). I will have to do some research into what the rest of it is like!