Nick of the Balloch Hill Walking

Ayrshire Walking

Where: Nick of the Ballcoh hills, by Barr Village, Ayrshire
When: May 20th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: good weather so a day out to get some photos
Weather: Sunny
Distance: ?

I wanted a good sunny, early morning photo down the Nick of the Balloch road from the side of Rowantree Hill. While there, I decided to hike round as many of the hills there as I could. There are eleven hills on this range above 1,500 feet, 9 on the south side of the road, and the other two on the north side. The highest is Craigenreoch Hill at 1,854 feet.

I took the B7045 road from Ayr to Straiton village, as seen below, then continued south towards the Nick of the Balloch on the B7045 following signs for Glentrool and Newton Stewart, past the hill with the monument as seen below.

Road Map .

Straiton Village image

About ten miles south of Straiton, the road descends quite steep towards the 1,594 feet Eldrick Hill as seen below.

Eldrick Hill image

Just past Eldrick Hill is Bells Memorial with parking and seating. The top Cycle Road Race in Scotland takes place over the hill roads here each June, named the South Carrick David Bell Memorial Road Race. You get good views of the Galloway Hills, highest in southern Scotland, from the memorial.

The road to Barr cuts off a few hundred yards south of here.

Bells Memorial by Barr image

After following the hill road to Barr for about half of a mile, you reach the Nick of the Balloch stretch of road, cut into the hillside with a barrier alongside. Nine of the 1,500 feet plus hills are on the left here, and two on the right. There is a fairly large car park about quarter of a mile down this road, just past the Witches Bridge.

If you park at any of the passing places at the top here, make sure and park as far in as you can, so you allow enough space for other cars to pass..

Nick of the Balloch image

The map below shows the hills around the Nick of the Ballcoh by the village of Barr. The blue and white dots show the Tourist Trails from the village, green and yellow dots show the good trails, and the green and brown dots show the rough parts of the trails.

Barr Hills Map image

The image below shows where the car park is, just down from the Witches Bridge, next to a hill road that leads off the Nick of the Balloch. You can also park in the village of Barr and walk out the Changue Trail to here, about two and a half miles on a well marked trail from the village. If you park at the laybys at the top of the Nick of the Ballock, make sure you park in far enough that cars can still pass.

The car park is about one third of the way up the 1,639 feet Pinbreck Hill. The route onto the nine hills on the south side is as below going up the west side of the 1,833 feet Glengap Hill. This is fairly steep, a testing hike.

Large Image from top of Glengap Hill.

Glengap Hill image

From Glengap Hill, make your way onto the 1,804 feet Rowantree Hill. The west side of Rowantree Hill, as seen below, gives great views down the Nick of the Balloch. If you do not fancy the steep hike up Glengap Hill, walk up the road, then hike up the north side of this hill from the road, a lot easier route.

Rowantree Hill west side image

The top of Rowantree Hill gives good views east to the Galloway hill range containing the 2,520 feet Shalloch on Minnoch, 2,579 feet Kirriereoch Hill, and the 2,766 feet Merrick, highest hill in Southern Scotland.

The view below is south towards the highest hill on this range, Craigenreoch Hill at 1,854 feet

Rowantree Hill summit image

The summit of the 1,854 feet Craigenreoch, as seen below, gives good views east over the Merrick and southeast over Loch Trool.

The view below is looking south towards the 1,784 feet Polmaddie Hill, then beyond that, the 1,801 feet Pinbreck Hill with the trees on its east side.

Craigenreoch Hill summit image

The view below is from the top of the 1,784 feet Polmaddie Hill, looking south towards the 1,801 feet Pinbreck Hill. There seems to be two hills on this range named Pinbreck. There is a bit of a dip down and hike up to this hill, but not that much. Following the ridges means, once up on the first hill, you can go round them all without descending much between them.

Polmaddie Hill Summit image

From the top of the 1,801 feet Pinbreck Hill, as seen below, you get a good view of the 1,571 feet Cairn Hill with its large cairn on top. Pinbreck Hill is in the middle of the hills here. To go round them all, you have to go south to Cairn and Fell hills, then come back to Pinbreck Hill to get onto Changue and Haggis hills.

You can follow the ridge round to the left here for an easy crossing, or go directly across as I did, down the steep west side, cross the narrow Lead Mine Burn, then hike up the steep east side of Cairn Hill as seen below. This is the roughest section of the hike.

Cairn Hill by Barr image

The top of the 1,571 feet Cairn Hill, as seen below, is marked by a large cairn. This view shows the 1,525 feet Fell Hill to the southwest. The crossing here is easy going with little drop bewteen the hills.

You get a good view of the Merrick from here. Large image east to the Merrick.

Cairn Hill by Barr summit image

The view below is from the 1,525 feet Fell Hill looking west to the village of Barr. There is a road down there that leads to the village, but getting down to the road is tough hiking through the deap stuff. The top of Fell Hill is a thick spongy stuff, not the best hill to walk on.

The route now is back over Cairn Hill, then back to Pinbreck Hill.

Fell Hill by Barr image

The view below is from the 1,801 feet Pinbreck Hill looking north to the 1,709 feet Changue Hill. There is little drop between these hills. Note the sheep fence running across the hills here. The right side of the fence is good walking due the sheep on that side, the left side is a deep spongy stuff as there are no sheep there.

Pinbreck Hill summit image

The view below is from the top of the 1,709 feet Changue Hill looking north to the 1,673 feet Haggis Hill. Changue Hill summit has no cairn or marker and is covered in thick spongy stuff.

Changue Hill summit image

The view below is from the top of the 1,673 feet Haggis Hill towards Glengap Hill, the Nick of the Balloch road, and the other 1,639 feet Pinbreck Hill from where the hike began. There is a bit of a dip between Changue and Haggis, so was a testing hike up.

Haggis Hill summit image

Below is a view back at Haggis Hill north side. This descent starts off steady but gets steeper as you go down. There is a small cliff close to the bottom with about a 30 foot drop to watch out for, as can be seen in the image below. The steepest hikes are from this area, and up the cracking valley here, plenty of testing routes for the adventurous.

Haggis Hill north side image

The image below is looking up to the Nick of the Balloch road from the valley, showing the barriers are needed as it would be a long way to roll down in a car.

Nick of the Balloch from the valley image

The image below is from the side of Rowantree Hill looking down the Nick of the Balloch. This was the image I came here to get, early in the morning when the sun was shinning straight down the middle. Over to the right here is the 1,639 Pinbreck Hill, and the 1,594 feet Eldrick Hill, the other hills on the north side of the road.

Large Image.

Nick of the Balloch from Rowantree Hill image

Doing the 12 hills here in one day can be a long day. There are a few different ways you could hike them all, or some of them, including following the walking routes from the Village of Barr out to here. The Hill Walking Map allows you to plan a route to suit yourself.

North Side Hills Photo Tour

Barr Walking Routes Photo Tour

Barr Trails Map and Info