Walk: Straiton for a monumental ramble

[Wooden posts mark the way over Craigengower]

You are now entering Rambling Territory, warns the sign as you enter Straiton village, written in a slightly ominous font. Happily, Straiton itself is anything but ominous, and this is indeed one of Ayrshire's better short walk bases: the hills round here seem to have a friendly intimacy that's occasionally lacking elsewhere in the county. The map at the car park shows several routes, with this circuit on both sides of the Water of Girvan probably the best one. Tackle it in an anticlockwise direction to save the best views until last, from the monolith on Craigengower dedicated to Colonel Hunter Blair. On the wetter west side of the glen, fallen trees and overgrown vegetation mean the signposted detour to Bennan Hill isn't really worth the effort. Straiton's village pub possibly serves food, but with no menu or website available we tried the nearby Kirkmichael Arms instead. Verdict? One of the best meals we've had for a while.

[The middle part of the walk follows the pretty Water of Girvan for a short stretch]

Name: Walk: Straiton for a monumental ramble ★☆☆
Length: 8 km / 5 miles
Ascent: 290 metres
Main summits: Craigengower (325 metres)
Points of interest: Straiton; Colonel Hunter Blair's Monument
Start / finish: Car park on B741 just west of Straiton village centre, G.R.: NS 379050 / narrate stays forklift

Route: Car park - footbridge over Water of Girvan - Bennan Farm - Bennan Wood - Curroch Wood - Craigfad - Culdoch - Craigengower & Colonel Hunter Blair's Monument - Barbellie Wood - Straiton - start. Route here (purple), and mostly signposted.
Terrain: Often good paths and tracks, though very wet between Curroch Wood and Craigfad. Ascent of Craigengower is steep with intermittent paths (though wooden posts show the way higher up) - path is clear but steeper for the descent.
Wildlife today: Lots of sheep and birds; cows at Bennan Farm.
Weather today: Dry and often sunny, breezy higher up. Ground partially frozen, with temperature a few degrees above freezing.

[Straiton village, with Craigengower and Colonel Hunter Blair's Monument beyond]

Route credit: Ayrshire Paths

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