Fri, 2014 Apr 4 10:53 AM GMT
From Genoch Cottage, up Craigengower, Straiton, lunch at the Buck, back via Bennan and Bennan Hill. A lot of low cloud, mist., slightly muggy, but dry. Almost 9 miles.
We walk from the cottage down to the road. We turn left and walk along for almost a mile as far as the turning to Craigfad and Balbeg.
A left turn takes us down to a small bridge. Just before the bridge are wooden steps to the path beside the river, Water of Girvan.
We follow the path back up to the road, just opposite a small house. We turn left. About a hundred yards on our right, after the house is a gate into the field. We make our way up the hill, tyring to follow the line of the path on the map, but it's mostly a steep grassy slog up to the top and then turn left towards the Monument on Craigengower. It celebrates Lt Col James Hunter Blair who died after the Battle of Inkerman (during the Crimean War) in 1854. It's very gloomy and atmospheric when we arrive in low cloud.
We decide on our route down, and soon enough this becomes clear and easy as we step below the cloud. Down the hill, over a step stile into Traboyack Wood, back to the road just before the school. We turn right and walk into the village of Straiton, past the war memorial, with at least two more Hunter Blairs' names. A little further and we stop for a very welcome coffee and sandwich at the Buck. . This is run by a couple who came to the area for the mountain biking, then opened the coffee shop, so rarely get out there. But the coffee and cakes are good.
Now, we think, a gentle stroll back, maybe a diversion to Bennan Hill Viewpoint. We are told there are otters and kingfishers by the river, but we see none today.
We pause for a quick look at St Cuthbert's church, from the outside, then look for the footpath before the road bridge. This leads to a footbridge over the river, where we turn right, then left for a while to join a small road, past Bennan farm, then off to the right through a large field and into Bennan Wood.
When we reach the sign promising a 25 minute walk to Bennan Hill viewpoint, we follow it, but miss the turning from the main track. We make our way through some wet ground within the plantation and eventually find a route, where the barbed wire has been wrapped with tape. Of course a lot of the view is shrouded in mist today.
The descent is pretty steep, but we reach the track and follow it to Craigfad. From here it's a mile or so along the road and back to Genoch.
Map and details