Loch Doon is situated about 3 miles east
of the town of Dalmellington, 18 miles east
of Ayr. The car park, as seen below, is just
over 1 mile east of Dalmellington next to the
road signed A713 to Castle Douglas &
Dumfries. From here, it is about two miles to
Loch Doon Dam, about seven miles to Loch Doon
Castle on the far southwest side of the loch.
This is a popular walk, cycle or drive on a
narrow hill road.
Loch Doon is fast becomming a tourist
hotspot with the Scottish Dark Sky
Observatory that opened in October 2012, a
new Cafe by the dam that is open 7 days a
week, new Touring Caravan Park under
construction, and free camper van and camping
spots that are patroled by a Ranger.
The area has a popular riverside walk and
four hill ranges with hills from 1,000 ft to
2,766 ft. Five hills are above 2,500 feet,
known as Corbetts.
The road winds its way steadily uphill for
about 1 mile. Where it levels out, you get a
good view of Craigengillan Mansion and Estate
on the right hand side.
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory was
built by Craigengillan House, left in the
image below. The estate also offers Pony
Trekking, Mountain Biking, River Fishing,
Canoeing on the River Doon, and Holiday
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory opened
in October 2012. The Observatory is situated
in the only Dark Sky Park in the UK, one of
only 8 in the world. The night skies here are
some of the best - countless stars, the Milky
Way stretching from horizon to horizon,
shooting stars, planets, comets, and the
Northern Lights are visible. The observatory
is open to everyone.
. Phone: 01292 551 118. Map .
About two miles from the car park you
reach Loch Doon Dam. The dam was built in
1935 for generating hydro-electricity. This
is the largest inland loch in Southern
Scotland, about 7 miles long. The water for
the Hydro System leaves the loch from the
east side, left in this image, through a
large pipeline out through the hill to just
north of Casphairn village. That water flows
down to other lochs with Hydro Power Stations
between Casphairn and Dumfries.
The Roundhouse Cafe is situated close to
Loch Doon Dam. The cafe is open 7 days a
week, most of the year. The popular Ness Glen
riverside walking trail starts here. The path
down Ness Glen is one of the most impressive
and scenic in Scotland. You can go down
through the gorge and back up over the top
via well maintained paths, with a number of
seating areas. Ness Glen Photo
The 1,062ft Glessel Hill sits high above
the Roundhouse Cafe. This is a great short
hike for some of the best views of Loch Doon.
The hike starts from the right side of the
cafe and follows a good trail to the top.
Many hikers go up to Glessel Hill, over to
the Dark Sky Observatory, then walk up Ness
Glen back to the cafe.
Glessel Hill Photo
An Osprey feeding platform is situated
across the loch from the cafe for a pair of
Osprey that have been frequenting Loch Doon,
it is hoped they will breed here soon. You
can hire a large scope at the cafe to watch
the birds or to view the Rhinns of Kells
mountain range down the southeast side of the
There are toilets at the cafe.
In front of the Roundhouse Cafe is a
camping site, free of charge. There is also
space for a few camper vans in this area.
There are a few campsites like this along the
loch that are now patroled by a Ranger to
make sure they remain tidy.
No caravans are allowed at Loch Doon just
now. A new 50 pitch Touring Caravan Site is
under construction just south of the
Roundhouse Cafe. The park will be run by the
Loch Doon Caravan Club and will retain 22
pitches for visitors.
The Osprey platform is top right in this
The shingle beach at the Roundhouse Cafe
is ideal for launching small boats or canoes.
You have to bring your own vessel just now,
but it is expected there will be boats or
canoes for hire here soon.
There are a number of bank fishing spots
all along the loch. Brown Trout are the main
fish in the loch. Bait can be obtained from
the Roundhouse Cafe.
About half way along the loch is where
they store boats for the Loch Doon Fishing
Loch Doon Castle is almost at the far end
of the loch. The castle was originally built
on an island in the loch and had connections
to King Robert the Bruce. It was moved to
this spot next to the loch before they built
the dam to raise the water level.
There is a plaque inside giving the
history of the castle. Large Image of
There is a car park at the castle and a
well marked trail from the left side of the
castle to the 1,716 feet Craiglee Hill, and
the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch, as seen above
Large Image of
The first part of the trail up Craiglee
Hill is a fairly wide man made track with a
number of seating areas. After about half of
a mile, the trail splits into two narrow
walking trails. The route to the right takes
you onto the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch, great
for views over Loch Doon. The trail to the
left leads over a small wooden bridge, then
up through trees to a small rocky hill as
seen below. From the rocky hill, you get the
first clear view of Craiglee Hill.
The view below is from the top of Craiglee
Hill looking down to Loch Doon Castle, at the
strip of land stretching out into the loch.
The ground between the small hill and
Craiglee is a bit wet in places. Was not bad
in the summer but could get quite wet in
winter. In winter it would be best to go up
the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch first then cross
over to here via a rocky ridge.
Large Image .
Large Image of
Craiglee Summit .
The view below is from Craiglee Hill down
towards the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch. If it
is wet, you can go down to the left here
following the rocky ridge and cross over at
the narrowest point.
Below is a view from the Wee Hill of
Craigmulloch looking down to Loch Doon, Loch
Doon Castle and the car park. This hill gives
great views all along the loch. There is a
narrow path down to the main trail from here
through deep heather.
The wide view below shows the other three
ranges at Loch Doon. The range on the right
contains the 2,520 ft Shalloch-on-Minnoch,
2579 feet Kirriereoch, and 2,766 ft Merrick,
highest hill in southern Scotland. The forest
road round to Loch Riecawr takes you to this
range. Photo Tour.
The range on the left contains the 2,648
Carlin's Cairn, and the 2,671 Corserine. You
can park at the south side of Loch Doon and
follow a forest road up onto the west side of
Carlin's Cairn, as seen in the large image
below. Read the photo tour page for that
route as it is easy to get lost on that
route. Photo Tour.
The range in the centre, although not as
high, contains rocky hills with a number of
vertical cliffs. The highest hill on that
range is the 2,270 ft Mullwarchar. Photo Tour.
The large panoramic image from the Wee
Hill of Craigmulloch, as seen below, is 8,077
pixels wide with names and heights on the
hills, you will have to scroll sideways to
view them all.
Large Image .
Routes Map . Hillwalking Click
on Map .
At the far southeast end of Loch Doon is
the small white Star Cottage looking directly
up the loch. The cottage has been un-used
since the Forestry Commission planted
woodland down the east and south side of Loch
Doon in the late 1970s. Many small cottages
for sheep farming were abandoned at that
time. A local of Loch Doon has now acquired a
lease for Star Cottage and has began
restoring the building. The lease holder is
looking for the history of the building, so
if anyone knows anything, let us know and it
can be passed on to him.
The view below is from the front of the
cottage taken in November. Large
At the south side of Loch Doon, just
before the cottage, is an entrance to the
Galloway Forest Park and Carrick Forest
Drive. There is also a large sign giving
information on the type of wild life you
should look out for in the park. There is a
pay machine that costs about £2 for a
ticket that allows a car a day in the park.
The road is loose ground with a few pot holes
here and there but fairly good condition
since being re-leveled in 2013, great for
walking or mountain biking. Many motorbikes
also use this route.
There is a large car park at the signs
here and a walking trail up onto a seating
area a few hundred feet above for good views
across the loch. This trail, past the seating
area, also leads to Craiglee Hill.
You can also travel along this road past
another two lochs, then into the scenic
village of Straition, that is about 14 miles
southeast of Ayr.
You rarely get out of second gear on this
road and there is normally a large truck
working along the road transporting timber
out of the park, you may have to pass that
truck once or twice. There are many passing
About one mile into the park you pass a
few walking trails that are sign posted with
information on what wildlife is in the
Three miles along the forest road you
reach Loch Riecawr that also has a dam, kids
play area and seating. This is a scenic loch
with good hill walking down the west side.
The highest hill in this image is
Shalloch-on-Minnoch at 2,520 feet. The 2.,766
ft Merrick is on the same range to the south.
There is a road from this car park down the
side of the loch to the bottom of these
hills, marked as the Tunskeen
Bothy, a popular spot from where to hike
the steep east sides of the three 2,500 plus
hills on this range.
Shalloch-on-Minnoch Map . Large Image .
Shalloch-on-Minnoch Walk Photo
Another few miles into the park you reach
Loch Braden, also with a dam. From the dam,
you can see the mountains on the Isle of
Arran. There are two roads out of the park
from here. You can follow signs from this dam
to the Stincher Bridge and Falls. Large Image.
A couple of miles from the dam at Loch
Braden, you reach the Stincher Falls next to
the road that runs between Straiton and
Newton Stewart. These are small scenic falls
with seating areas and a popular trail that
follows the river downhill. There is also a
well marked, man made path from here through
woodland and over the 1,532 ft Cornish Hill to
Cornish Loch. Straiton
Village is situaed 7 miles north of here
with an Inn for meals and more popular