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Friday, 14 October 2011

Afton Water

Thursday the 13th of October saw me heading up to Ayrshire to walk with a fellow rambler.
I'd seen what seemed to be a decent walk to the west of New Cumnock.
A climb up Carsgailoch Hill to a Covenanter's monument and a trig point would have been the target.
However circumstances were against us.
Start point should have been a forest track by Dalgig farm.
Well we got to Dalgig farm,but there's now no forest track there.In fact the whole hill is now surrounded by opencast mines.
After talking to a crane driver we decided to see if there was another way up.We were lucky to get the cars out of the mud.A pick up truck driver associated with the open cast mining suggested we might get up back at the village of Skares, but he was just fobbing us off
Making inquiries from a couple of local men, we realized it was futile and decided to abandon this particular walk.(As my fellow rambler pointed out,the mining contractors will probably have promised to put tracks back in when they're finished.) Open cast mining is extensive in this part of Ayrshire.
In fact there are more open cast sites here than in any other part of the country.
 Scotland's Open Cast Sites

 So it was a case of walking somewhere else.
We headed to somewhere I'd never been before.After turning south in New Cumnock we headed down Glen Afton.
Afton Water
Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes, 
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise; 
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, 
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream. 

Thou stockdove whose echo resounds thro' the glen, 
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den, 
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear, 
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair. 

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills, 
Far mark'd with the courses of clear, winding rills; 
There daily I wander as noon rises high, 
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye. 

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below, 
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow; 
There oft, as mild Ev'ning weeps over the lea, 
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me. 

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides, 
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides; 
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave, 
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave. 

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes, 
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays; 
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, 
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

First stop was to take a look at Burns Cairn.

Overlooking Afton Water this lovely memorial park was erected by the New Cumnock Burns Club in 1973.

An old Scots plough completes the display.

It's a long narrow road  down Glen Afton.The hills rise up on either side.This is the top end of the Carsphairn and Scaur hills.
All the hill tops are shrouded in mist.
Maybe we wont climb any today.

After passing the Afton water treatment works we arrive to find the car park closed.Due to unstable trees it said.I take it they mean the one's still standing.There was parking close by though.

A short walk brought us up to the entrance to Afton reservoir.

Neat and tidy from a distance,the building and surrounds are in a state of neglect.
A pot with a poignant message lies in memory of someone loved.

I've just read of an upgrade to the Afton water treatment works that has brought clearer drinking water to the area.Might I suggest a clean up of this once proud reservoir entrance next.

I just can't understand why service industries have to cut back so much on labour when there is work.
The forestry man I talked to on Wednesday tells the same story. He was once one of a group of thirty three,now he's one of seven.
Surely, instead of paying welfare to the growing unemployment list it would be better have people in work.
The way I see it, it's not job creation but restoring jobs.I'm sure a local 23 year on the dole would sooner be cleaning this lovely place up than hanging around the job centre.Ah well !

The Water of Afton flows through the reservoir.As well as being the natural flow,I'd guess this incline serves as a fish ladder.

How a place like this attracts vandals is beyond me, but it looked like the iron gate had been forced open.

After climbing up the zig zag steps we take a look at the reservoir.The graffiti vandals have managed to get up here.No Banksy here I'm afraid.

This area with the right management could be a great tourist trap.

There's too much mist on the hills above to attempt any climbing so we decide to walk clockwise around the reservoir.

It's a bit soggy ,boggy and a little overgrown in places, but we make our way past Cannock Hill to reach the Montraw Burn.It's eight years since my fellow rambler was up here and the path has deteriorated lots.

There's the remains of a structure or dwelling by this bridge.
Now on a solid track we make our way over flat land to Afton Water prior to entering the reservoir.
Here's where we stop for lunch. A fine drizzle comes down.

Back on the move we're now around the western edge of the reservoir passing the Green and Swinkey burns.
Weird mushrooms and strange and bright mosses are along the track edges.

I try out a macro shot and never even notice the spider spinning his web.

We're soon back at the dam itself.

Here's how the weather's changed since we started.

Now as we walk back alongside the Afton we come to a path we'd noticed on the way in.
It's leading up to an interesting looking crag. We decide it's clear enough so we head up.
(I don't know who persuaded who)
She's as fresh as a daisy while I'm out of puff but we get there.There'll be great views on a good day.
While looking for the name of the crag (or craig) I've come upon the following from

The photograph above shows what is known locally as “Castle William”, though little more than a rocky outcrop it is referred to by this name on Ordnance Survey maps and likely is the location mentioned by Blind Harry?……………the outcrop is immediately below the text on the photograph. William Wallace associations are claimed by a myriad of locales, however it could be submitted that Glen Afton near New Cumnock has a strong case to claim a link to Scotlands most famous freedom fighter. Many of the tales of Wallaces exploits can be accredited to Blind Harry or Henry the Minstrel as he was also known. Blind Harry was born in Ayrshire around 1446 and penned The Life of Wallace, a poetry work containing lore of Wallaces exploits. Although said to contain inaccuracies this work is the single most important source of information about Wallace.In this work Harry names Glen Afton as where Wallace had a "Royal Household". He refers to "Black Crag in Cumno", the photograph above is of a "Castle William" as shown on OS map near to Black Craig hill at the head of Glen Afton nr New Cumnock. This is the actual text relating to the year 1297 from Blind Harry`s "Life of Wallace",
"To ye Black Crag in Cumno past agayne, Hys household set with men of mekill mayne, Three monethis thar he duelt in gud rest"
Another reference goes,
"In Cumno syne till hys duellyng went he"
and again probably relating to Wallaces return from France,
"And Wallace past in Cumno with blithe will, At the Black Rock, quhar he was wont to be, Apon that sted a rayal hous held he".

So all that above being right ,we're looking at the same view old Willie Wallace looked at all those years ago.
Imagine !

On the way down,and looking like lost jewelled brooches I spotted water-drops on spiders webs.

I used the flash for this one above.

Although not the walk we'd planned,nor the weather conditions we'd expected this was still a lovely walk and I look forward to my next visit up Afton Glen.

On Geo Trips on Aberystwyth University's website, Chris Wimbush has logged via GPS a walk round the hills around Afton Reservoir.
A Walk of the Hills around Afton Reservoir

Maybe we'll get a chance to follow in his footstep.
What a wonderful place,it's no wonder the bard was impressed.


  1. hey love this post. i agree with you wholeheartedly about the benefits of creating jobs where there is such rewarding and useful work to be done.
    i absolutely love the pictures of the spider webs with dew on them. i always find them really captivating and your close ups are gorgeous.

  2. Thanks Sez,that's why there's so many protests around the world just now.
    If the elite and the bankers begin feeling the heat they just tighten up.It's time governments started making decisions instead.This coalition needs renaming collision.

    I love the dewy webs too


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