Loch Doon and Loch Cornish

On a bright, cold Sunday in October, we ventured down to Ayrshire to explore the area around Loch Doon. We arrived just in time for lunch and, although the ospreys which nest nearby had departed for warmer climes some months before, we still enjoyed watching them via video as we ate in the Roundhouse Café.

The view across the loch from the café is very pretty, and there is an interesting walk along the Ness Glen which leaves from its door. However, this was the day after the clocks went back and we knew it would get dark early. There was more we wanted to see along the road, including a castle, so we decided to save this walk for another day.

Loch Doon Castle looks ancient – and it is, but all is not what it seems. The castle was built in the early 14th century on an island in the loch. In the 1930s, the loch was dammed for a hydro-electric scheme and the water level rose. To save the castle, it was moved stone by stone and re-erected in its present site on the shore. Impossible to tell!

Just after the castle we took the winding, gravelly road that is Carrick Forest Drive. It was beautiful with some lovely viewpoints – and you might recognise the adventure playground which appeared a couple of weeks ago in my Walking the line post. I’m not entirely sure why one of the trees was dressed for Christmas in October …

At the end of the drive is Stinchar Bridge from where a circular walk climbs up through the forest to Cornish Hill and Loch Cornish. We decided we had just enough time to do this before sunset. (NB the name has nothing to do with Cornwall: the best explanation I can find is that it is an anglicisation of Loch Coire an Eas: the lake of the corrie of the waterfall.)

First, we followed the path through the mossy, fungi-rich forest.

Climbing upwards, we emerged onto open moorland before reaching the top of Cornish Hill. The autumn colours were stunning looking down to the loch.

We descended to, and crossed, the loch’s outflow (Water of Girvan) before climbing through trees and moorland again, then descending to a forest track which meets up with the forest drive a short distance from where we had parked our car.

It was still light, but only just – the 1.5 hour drive home was mostly in the dark. Once again, Scotland had amazed me with a lovely day out in a place within 60 miles of home which I’d never visited before. We’ll definitely be back – we still have Ness Glen to walk.