Loch Doon Walk

Where: Loch Doon, Ayrshire
When: November 7th 2011
Who: I Parker
Why: good weather so a day out
Weather: Sunny
Distance: 14 miles

Loch Doon is situated about 18 miles east of Ayr, 3 miles east of the town of Dalmellington. This is a popular walk, cycle run or drive. The road is tar but narrow and winding so if you go by car, you will rarely get out of second gear. About 20 miles per hour is fast enough anyway as sheep, walkers and cyclists share the road.

Below is the car park at the start of the hill road to the loch. This park is just over 1 mile east of Dalmellington next to the road signed A713 to Castle Douglas & Dumfries. From here, it is about seven miles to Loch Doon Castle on the far southeast side of the loch, a popular walk there and back.

I decided to do the trip in the car as I was wanting to know if I could reach Loch Riecawr and Loch Braden as well.

Loch Doon Car Park image

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. I believe they do horse riding and other outdoor activities.

Loch Doon Craigengillan Estate image

About two miles from the car park you reach the Loch Doon Dam. The dam was built in 1935 for generating hydro-electricity.

It was a frosty November morning, so by the time I reached the loch at about 11 o'clock, the sun had raised the temperature so much there was a thick mist over the loch. Large Image.

Loch Doon Dam image

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 the Plaque.

There is a car park at the castle and a trail from there to to the highest hill next to the loch, Craiglee at 1,716 feet.

Large Image of the Castle.

Loch Doon Castle image

At the far southeast end is a small cottage looking directly up the loch. It is surprising a place with such a view has been boarded up and allowed to fall into disrepair. The view below is from the front drive of the cottage. Large Image.

Loch Doon South Side image

At the south side, 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 one should look out for in the park. There is a pay machine that costs £2 for a ticket that allows a day in the park. The road is loose ground with a few pot holes here and there so I would not attempt it in car with really low ground clearance, great for walking or biking.

This was the part I was unsure of. I now realized I could travel 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.

Galloway Forest Park Road image

A few miles into the park you pass a few walking trails that are sign posted with information on what wildlife is in the area.

You then 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. There is a road from this car park down the side of the loch to the bottom of the hill.

The border between Ayrshire and the county of Dumfires & Galloway is close to here. One old map I viewed shows Loch Riecawr and Shalloch-on-Minnoch are in Ayrshire. Shalloch-on-Minnoch Map. Large Image.
Shalloch-on-Minnoch Walk.

Loch Riecawr image

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. The direct road out from Loch Braden onto the Straiton to Newton Stewart road takes you through a timber loading/unloading point so you may have to wait until a truck is loaded or unloaded. The best and most scenic road out is to go back to the road signed for the Stincher Falls about one mile before you reach the dam at this loch. Large Image.

Loch Braden 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 trail through the woods.

Stincher Falls image

From the Stincher falls it is about 7 miles north to the scenic village of Straiton. There are a few excellent walks about Straiton including one that takes you to the hill in the distance with the monument on top. See Straiton Walk for more information.

Straiton image

It is about a 14 mile drive northwest to Ayr from Straiton passing through the village of Kirkmichael on the way. Between Straiton and Kirkmichael, you will see, down on your left side, Cloncaird Castle. When this castle was put up for sale a few years back, Brian May of the rock group Queen was one of the high profile people to view it. The castle was eventually bought by a local businessman.

There are self catering cottages for holidays in Cloncaird Estate and the neighbouring Blairquhan Estate.

Cloncaird Castle image

The route from the car park before Loch Doon to the village of Straiton was a little over 20 miles, through what is some extremely interesting scenery. I managed to fit in the walk to the Monument high above Straiton before heading back to Ayr. You can view some interesting images of that walk at Straiton Walk.

Loch Doon Map.

Ayrshire Walking Home Page