Linear Forest Walk
Distance – 2km / 1½ miles (each way)
Time – 1 hour
Difficulty – Moderate
Surface – beaten earth with some rocky / rooted sections
Stout shoes or boots recommended
Parking is available at Balloch Bridge on the Old Military Road, by the Wildlife Ponds. Walkers might also choose to do this walk as an extension of the Burnside Trail, with parking available in the centre of Creetown by the Clock Tower.
Start : this route can be followed in both directions, either as an extension of the Burnside Trail commencing from Cardoon Bridge or starting at Balloch Bridge on the Old Military Road by the Wildlife Ponds.
Route : Start at Cardoon Bridge (formerly marked as a ford on mid 19th century maps), whose name derives from the Gaelic for bubbling stream. This bridge was designed by local resident Dorothy Scherrer along with two forestry commission engineers based on an illustration of the bridge in the scene where Tam O’Shanter’s horse Meg gets her tail pulled off by a witch in a book of poetry by Rabbie Burns!
Those continuing their walk from the Burnside Trail will notice an immediate change in the nature of the forest to more coniferous woodland, although this changes as the path climbs eastwards. This section of trail probably demonstrates the widest variety of trees present in Balloch Wood.
Shortly after the bridge those keen to explore off the beaten track might find the ruined remains of a [Waulk Mill] and an old steading, Ballochanamour hidden in the forest up on the right hand side of the path. Similarly walkers will hear a waterfall down on the left hand side of the path.
The Balloch Burn is separated from the path at this point, but the more adventurous might like to leave the path to explore and will be rewarded by the sight of a series of small, narrow waterfalls tumbling through the undergrowth.
Continuing along the path, the trail gently winds through forest and clearings towards the moorland which starts to open up on the right hand side in the direction of Larg Hill. The nature of the woodland constantly changes, and becomes increasingly broadleaf in character.
Passing through a gap in a wall you find yourself in a coppice of at least eight different species of broadleaf trees, including Hawthorn, Beech, Birch, Rowan and Italian alder. This is a perfect spot for ‘tree spotting’, with so many different species in close proximity. Slightly further on, approximately half way up the trail, on the right hand side, is a massive Beech Tree in front of the wall. This is one of the oldest trees in Balloch Wood.
A bench crafted in beech wood by Alan Moncur and Iain Templeton of Shennanton Saw Mill in Kirkcowan is provided at this point to provide visitors with somewhere to sit and reflect.
The path descends shortly after this through some Larch trees, and Norway and Sitka spruce before the path diverges again at a small bridge.
Continuing straight on takes you to the carpark on the Old Military Road by Balloch Bridge, while branching right takes you to the Garrochar Wildlife Ponds.