Walk: Ayr Gorge(ous)

[Peden's Cove, from where covenanter Alexander Peden preached to his congregation across the river]

Ayr Gorge Woodlands Wildlife Reserve (AGWWR is a bit less of a mouthful) is well off the beaten track in deepest Ayrshire. Jaw-droppingly dramatic scenery this is not, but it's an attractive little den which springs a few surprises (see above photo). Areas of woodland are at a bit of a premium in Ayrshire, but the steep slopes around here have helped preserve a reasonably undisturbed landscape. Wildlife includes red squirrels, badger, otter, roe deer and several bird species. Start or finish with a meal or pint at the Failford Inn, at the heart of a village so tiny that you might wonder how the pub manages to stay in business. Update: the Failford Inn went out of business in 2015. Fingers crossed that it will reopen in the future.

[Excellent shady paths along the River Ayr]

Name: Walk: Ayr Gorge(ous) ☆☆☆
Length: 5 km / 3 miles
Ascent: 220 metres
Points of interest: Ayr Gorge WWR; Peden's Cove
Start / finish: Failford, G.R.: NS 459261 / minus walking thousands

Route: Failford - Peden's Cove - southern end of reserve - Failford (the reserve website contains a downloadable map of the path network)
Terrain: Excellent dirt paths, fair amount of ascent / descent on steps
Wildlife today: Spotted woodpecker in the higher part of the reserve. Dippers, grey wagtail and mallard ducks in or around the river.
Weather today: Cloudy but dry, sun peeking through at times. Well above freezing.

[Looks like a Cornish pasty, but actually one of several fungus species lurking in the shady gorge]


Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track

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