The walk In the footsteps of St Anne
© CROWN COPYRIGHT 2018 ORDNANCE SURVEY. MEDIA 059/18
Grade: Moderate woodland and cyclepath walk
Distance: 6.5 miles/11km Time: 3-4 hours
This walk starts and finishes at Barr Castle. Once known as Lockhart’s Tower, it (or more likely its predecessor) is said to have given sanctuary to William Wallace and his troops from English soldiers trying to capture him. It is now cared for by the local Masonic lodge and contains a small museum, which is open by prior arrangement (01563 820739).
The Burn Anne Walk, locally called Burnawn, is now part of the wider Irvine Valley Trails Project. As a result it acquired, some years ago, waymarking, picnic tables and helpful interpretative boards. Some of this trail “furniture” could do with a bit of TLC, but I found this air of gentle dilapidation added to the charm of the walk rather than the reverse.
The burn is named for St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary – there is a St Anne’s Well marked on older maps. She certainly had a good eye for a walk. You’ll surely agree as you follow the delightful path that winds through the Burnhouse Brae and Cessnock Wood, climbing steadily with the burn below. The path eventually breaks free of the denser woods (where you might see squirrels or hear the unmistakable yammering of a woodpecker) to give increasingly wide views, extending westward to the hills of Arran and north as far as Ben Lomond, given clear conditions.
Partway up, a rather battered wooden sign points to a diversion on the right (seriously overgrown on my last visit) which leads to a site where James Smith, a Covenanter, was captured in 1685 by the troops of Graham of Claverhouse, known as “Bonnie Dundee” and also more grimly as “Bloody Clavers”. Smith was taken to Mauchline Castle, where he died. His gravestone can be seen in Mauchline Kirkyard.
It is hard to imagine something so violent happening in such a peaceful place. The path eventually swings to the right and meets a minor road where you start the descent, soon reaching Threepwood Farm. Here the Gibb family are very active in agri-environment schemes and have done a great deal to enhance the area, including tree planting and the creation of a wildlife pond.
The Burn Anne Walk retraces its steps for most of the way back down to Galston, but I have added a wee extension which I hope you will enjoy. Simply follow the minor road down past Stonyhall and Windyhill to the outskirts of Newmilns. In September, my wife and I gathered a bagful of juicy blackberries from the hedgerows here.
In Newmilns you pick up the linear Irvine Valley Trail on a track that has been converted to a cycleway. It provides a very pleasant, flat riverside wander back to Galston. If you have time, Galston has an excellent heritage trail – see the noticeboard outside the
Public transport: Regular buses to Galston from Kilmarnock (service 1). See www.travelinescotland.com Information: www.ayrshirepaths.org.uk/ walkirvinevalley.htm
Route: From car park turn R then L on Cemetery Road (past Grant’s factory). Follow road to end, cross B7037 and turn R. In 150m turn L at blue sign, into woods. Follow path through woods and down to a minor road. Turn R then L at sign into Cessnock Wood. At fork keep R then drop to cross burn on a footbridge. Turn R and continue with path, less clear now, as it climbs through scattered woodland. Path eventually bends R to reach minor road. Turn R and walk down road past Threepwood. At junction turn R. Cross outward route, go R then L on road past Stonyhall and Windyhill to reach Newmilns. Turn sharp L on Brown St then L on Stoneygate Rd then R on Stratholm Terrace to reach start of riverside path. Follow this back to meet Barrmill Rd in Galston. Turn L on Polwarth St to return to start point.