OUT­DOORS

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - ROGER SMITH

Lo­ca­tion: Ayr­shire Grade: Easy semi-ur­ban walk Dis­tance: 4.5 miles/7km Time: 2-3 hours (not in­clud­ing stops)

THIS walk is all about sto­ry­telling. The vil­lage of Al­loway, just south of Ayr, has many as­so­ci­a­tions with Robert Burns, the mas­ter sto­ry­teller in verse, and if you do the walk soon you also have the op­por­tu­nity to see an amaz­ing se­ries of paint­ings by Alexan­der Goudie.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, the walk starts at Burns Cot­tage, where the poet was born on Jan­uary 25, 1759. It is now part of the Burns mu­seum com­plex at Al­loway and you can either visit it now or leave it to the end of the walk.

From the cot­tage it is a short walk into Rozelle Park, a pleas­ant green space with many ma­ture trees. At its cen­tre are Rozelle House and the MacLau­rin Art Gallery. The gallery holds reg­u­lar events and ex­hi­bi­tions and at present has on dis­play the full se­ries of 54 mag­nif­i­cent paint­ings by Goudie vividly telling the story of Tam o’Shanter, one of Burns’ best­loved works. This is the first time the en­tire se­ries has been on show to­gether for nearly 20 years and it is an op­por­tu­nity not to be missed. But note: the ex­hi­bi­tion closes on March 12

eav­ing the gallery, the walk con­tin­ues past two at­trac­tive ponds hold­ing a good va­ri­ety of birdlife to reach an area called Re­mem­brance Wood­land fea­tur­ing a num­ber of very fine wooden sculp­tures of scenes from the First World War, part of the cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tions. There are about a dozen at present and more are be­ing added. A leaflet giv­ing more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at Rozelle House.

From the sculp­ture area re­turn past the ponds to the main drive and leave the park. Cross the road and en­ter Belleisle Park, an­other large open area with a golf course. Walk across to Belleisle House, which looks rather for­lorn. This gra­cious 18th-cen­tury man­sion, which was ex­ten­sively re­mod­elled by the ar­chi­tect Wil­liam Burn around 1830 and was for­merly the golf club­house, was sold in 2012 to pri­vate devel­op­ers who had am­bi­tious plans to turn it into a lux­ury 90-room ho­tel with a spa and fa­cil­i­ties for wed­dings and con­fer­ences. Sadly, the scheme has hit a num­ber of prob­lems, in­clud­ing a fire last year, and there seems to be noth­ing much hap­pen­ing at present. Belleisle is a listed build­ing so can’t be de­mol­ished (nor in­deed should it be) and it is to be hoped that a so­lu­tion can be found soon.

Pass the Belleisle Con­ser­va­tory, beau­ti­fully re­stored with as­sis­tance from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund, and leave the park to cross the River Doon, pass­ing (if you can) the Se­cret Gar­den, an ex­cel­lent tea­room and restau­rant. Some­how I find my foot­steps ir­re­sistibly drawn into these places… The walk con­tin­ues down to the shore where there is an­other story to be told – of the per­sis­tence of Ayr Ro­tary Club in set­ting up the Ayr­shire Coastal Path and of both they and Sus­trans in get­ting the fund­ing for the splen­did bridge that now spans the Doon where it emp­ties into the sea (note: this bridge is still not on most OS maps). From the bridge you get a grand view of the town of Ayr.

The walk con­tin­ues on a cy­clepath, part of the long-dis­tance NCN7 route. Over to the right you can see the gaunt ruin of Greenan Cas­tle, a 17th-cen­tury Kennedy strong­hold. The cy­clepath is clearly signed and leaves the houses be­hind at a right fork, climb­ing to a high point which of­fers more good sea views.

The route then turns sharp left and heads back towards Al­loway. This sec­tion is be­ing sealed and you may come across a gang work­ing on it. Ask po­litely and they will let you through.L

NCN7 is left be­hind af­ter cross­ing the A719 and the fi­nal part of the walk is on a rel­a­tively new cy­cle­way us­ing an old rail­way line. It takes you back to Al­loway and the Burns com­plex where there is much to see – the main mu­seum, which su­perbly tells the story of bard’s too-short life, the old Brig o’Doon, cen­tral to the tale of Tam o’Shanter, the Burns mon­u­ment and old Al­loway Kirk where Burns’ fa­ther is buried.

A short stroll along the Poet’s Walk fea­tur­ing Burns-re­lated sculp­tures (in­clud­ing the largest mouse I have ever seen – no cow­erin’ tim­o­rous beastie this one) takes you back to the start.

Start/Fin­ish: Burns Cot­tage car park, Al­loway (GR: NS335185) Trans­port: . Reg­u­lar trains and ex­press buses from Glas­gow to Ayr. Lo­cal bus from Ayr to Al­loway. De­tails from www.trav­e­li­nescot­land­com In­for­ma­tion: Ayr TIC, 01232 290300. www.themaclau­rin.org.uk

Route: Walk past Burns Cot­tage (or visit) cross road and TR (Clochan­hill Rd). TL Well Park and at end cross road and take small path into Rozelle Park. At Bri­dle Path TR and fol­low path to pav­il­ion. TL on road and walk up to Rozelle House. Af­ter vis­it­ing, leave in same di­rec­tion and take first path on R to walk by pond. At end of pond walk round sculp­ture area then take any path by ponds back up to main drive. TR and exit park. Cross road, TR and in 100m TL at gate into Belleisle Park. Cross golf course and walk up to Belleisle House. TL in front of house and walk past Con­ser­va­tory. TR up steps then L on path. Fork L and walk out to park exit. TR on road, at T-junc­tion TL to cross River Doon. Take first R in 200m (Scaur o’Doon Road). Walk to end at shore and TL. Fol­low NCN7 cy­clepath signs along Greenan Road and then fork R to con­tinue with cy­clepath. In 1km (at house) turn left as signed. Fol­low cy­clepath to A719 road. Cross with care, TL and in 50m take cy­clepath on R (not signed). Fol­low this path (old rail­way line) for 2km back to Al­loway. Af­ter go­ing through long tun­nel go R up path. To leave, fol­low signs for Burns Cot­tage over foot­bridge and along the Poet’s Walk.

Fine wooden sculp­tures in the Re­mem­brance Wood­land in Rozelle Park de­pict­ing scenes from the First World War

©Crown copy­right 2017 Ord­nance Sur­vey. Me­dia 026/17

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