Loch Doon is situated about 3 miles east of the
town of Dalmellington, 18 miles east of Ayr. The
car park, as seen below, is just over 1 mile east
of Dalmellington next to the road signed A713 to
Castle Douglas & Dumfries. From here, it is
about two miles to Loch Doon Dam, about seven miles
to Loch Doon Castle on the far southwest side of
the loch. This is a popular walk, cycle or drive on
a narrow hill road.
Loch Doon is fast becomming a tourist hotspot
with the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory that opened
in October 2012, a new Cafe by the dam that is open
7 days a week, ospreys nesting by the cafe, new
Touring Caravan Park, and free camper van and
camping spots that are patroled by a Ranger.
The area has a popular riverside walk and four
hill ranges with hills from 1,000 ft to 2,766 ft.
Five hills are above 2,500 feet, known as
Loch Doon Map.
The road winds its way steadily uphill for about
1 mile. Where it levels out, you get a good view of
Craigengillan Mansion and Estate on the right hand
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory was built by
Craigengillan House, left in the image below. The
estate also offers Pony Trekking, Mountain Biking,
River Fishing, Canoeing on the River Doon, and
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory opened in
October 2012. The Observatory is situated in the
only Dark Sky Park in the UK, one of only 8 in the
world. The night skies here are some of the best -
countless stars, the Milky Way stretching from
horizon to horizon, shooting stars, planets,
comets, and the Northern Lights are visible. The
observatory is open to everyone.
scottishdarkskyobservatory.co.uk . Phone:
01292 551 118. Map .
About two miles from the car park you reach Loch
Doon Dam. The dam was built in 1935 for generating
hydro-electricity. This is the largest inland loch
in Southern Scotland, about 7 miles long. The water
for the Hydro System leaves the loch from the east
side, left in this image, through a large pipeline
out through the hill to just north of Casphairn
village. That water flows down to other lochs with
Hydro Power Stations between Casphairn and
The Roundhouse Cafe is situated close to Loch
Doon Dam. The cafe is open 7 days a week, most of
the year. The popular Ness Glen riverside walking
trail starts here. The path down Ness Glen is one
of the most impressive and scenic in Scotland. You
can go down through the gorge and back up over the
top via well maintained paths, with a number of
seating areas. Ness Glen Photo
The 1,062ft Glessel Hill sits high above the
Roundhouse Cafe. This is a great short hike for
some of the best views of Loch Doon. The hike
starts from the right side of the cafe and follows
a good trail to the top. Many hikers go up to
Glessel Hill, over to the Dark Sky Observatory,
then walk up Ness Glen back to the cafe.
Glessel Hill Photo Tour.
A nest is situated across the loch from the cafe
for a pair of Osprey that have been frequenting
Loch Doon for a few years, they had their first
chicks here in 2014. You can
use a large scope at the cafe to watch the birds,
or to view the Rhinns of Kells mountain range down
the southeast side of the loch.
Update: the ospreys have established a permanent
nest opposite the roundhouse and return every year,
we have set up a live camera feed to the nest which
can be observed in the roundhouse. We are in
partnership with the forestry commission which made
this project possible. With their help we intend to
add another 2 cameras to the network for next year
(2017) which will allow greater coverage of the
ospreys at Loch Doon, giving all visitors a
fantastic experience. To top this the roundhouse is
investing a considerable amount of effort not to
mention money in developing a covered osprey
viewing platform, which will provide all round
protection from the elements. Both Birds returned in March 2021.
In front of the Roundhouse Cafe is a camping
site, free of charge. There is also space for a few
camper vans in this area. There are a few campsites
like this along the loch that are now patrolled by
a Ranger to make sure they remain tidy.
The Osprey nest is top right in this image.
Large Image of the
The shingle beach at the Roundhouse Cafe is
ideal for launching small boats or canoes. You have
to bring your own vessel just now, but it is
expected there will be boats or canoes for hire
There are a number of bank fishing spots all
along the loch. Brown Trout are the main fish in
The only caravans allowed at Loch Doon just now
are at the new 50 pitch Touring Caravan Site, a few
hundred yards south of the Roundhouse Cafe. The
park is run by the Loch Doon Caravan Club and has
about 22 pitches for visitors. Facebook page at:
Loch Doon Caravan Club
About half way along the loch is where they
store boats for the Loch Doon Fishing Club.
Loch Doon Castle is almost at the far end of the
loch. The castle was originally built on an island
in the loch and had connections to King Robert the
Bruce. It was moved to this spot next to the loch
before they built the dam to raise the water
There is a plaque inside giving the history of
the castle. Large Image of the
There is a car park at the castle and a well
marked trail from the left side of the castle to
the 1,716 feet Craiglee Hill, and the Wee Hill of
Craigmulloch, as seen above the castle.
Large Image of Castle .
Photo Page .
The first part of the trail up Craiglee Hill is
a fairly wide man made track with a number of
seating areas. After about half of a mile, the
trail splits into two narrow walking trails. The
route to the right takes you onto the Wee Hill of
Craigmulloch, great for views over Loch Doon. The
trail to the left leads over a small wooden bridge,
then up through trees to a small rocky hill as seen
below. From the rocky hill, you get the first clear
view of Craiglee Hill.
The view below is from the top of Craiglee Hill
looking down to Loch Doon Castle, at the strip of
land stretching out into the loch. The ground
between the small hill and Craiglee is a bit wet in
places. Was not bad in the summer but could get
quite wet in winter. In winter it would be best to
go up the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch first then cross
over to here via a rocky ridge.
Large Image .
Image of Craiglee
The view below is from Craiglee Hill down
towards the Wee Hill of Craigmulloch. If it is wet,
you can go down to the left here following the
rocky ridge and cross over at the narrowest
Below is a view from the Wee Hill of
Craigmulloch looking down to Loch Doon, Loch Doon
Castle and the car park. This hill gives great
views all along the loch. There is a narrow path
down to the main trail from here through deep
The wide view below shows the other three ranges
at Loch Doon. The range on the right contains the
2,520 ft Shalloch-on-Minnoch, 2579 feet
Kirriereoch, and 2,766 ft Merrick, highest hill in
southern Scotland. The forest road round to Loch
Riecawr takes you to this range. Photo Tour.
The range on the left contains the 2,648
Carlin's Cairn, and the 2,671 Corserine. You can
park at the south side of Loch Doon and follow a
forest road up onto the west side of Carlin's
Cairn, as seen in the large image below. Read the
photo tour page for that route as it is easy to get
lost on that route. Photo Tour.
The range in the centre, although not as high,
contains rocky hills with a number of vertical
cliffs. The highest hill on that range is the 2,270
ft Mullwarchar. Photo Tour.
The large panoramic image from the Wee Hill of
Craigmulloch, as seen below, is 8,077 pixels wide
with names and heights on the hills, you will have
to scroll sideways to view them all.
Large Image . Large Hiking Routes Map
At the far southeast end of Loch Doon is the
small white Star Cottage looking directly up the
loch. The cottage has been un-used since the
Forestry Commission planted woodland down the east
and south side of Loch Doon in the late 1970s. Many
small cottages for sheep farming were abandoned at
that time. A local of Loch Doon has now acquired a
lease for Star Cottage and has began restoring the
building. The lease holder is looking for the
history of the building, so if anyone knows
anything, let us know and it can be passed on to
The view below is from the front of the cottage
taken in November. Large Image.
At the south side of Loch Doon, just before the
cottage, is an entrance to the Galloway Forest Park
and Carrick Forest Drive. There is also a large
sign giving information on the type of wild life
you should look out for in the park. There is a pay
machine that costs about £2 for a ticket that
allows a car a day in the park. The road is loose
ground with a few pot holes here and there but
fairly good condition since being re-leveled in
2013, great for walking or mountain biking. Many
motorbikes also use this route.
There is a large car park at the signs here and
a walking trail up onto a seating area a few
hundred feet above for good views across the loch.
This trail, past the seating area, also leads to
You can also travel along this road past another
two lochs, then into the scenic village of
Straition, that is about 14 miles southeast of
You rarely get out of second gear on this road
and there is normally a large truck working along
the road transporting timber out of the park, you
may have to pass that truck once or twice. There
are many passing places.
About one mile into the park you pass a few
walking trails that are sign posted with
information on what wildlife is in the area.
Three miles along the forest road you reach Loch
Riecawr that also has a dam, kids play area and
seating. This is a scenic loch with good hill
walking down the west side. The highest hill in
this image is Shalloch-on-Minnoch at 2,520 feet.
The 2.,766 ft Merrick is on the same range to the
south. There is a road from this car park down the
side of the loch to the bottom of these hills,
marked as the Tunskeen Bothy, a
popular spot from where to hike the steep east
sides of the three 2,500 plus hills on this
Shalloch-on-Minnoch Map . Large Image . Shalloch-on-Minnoch Tour.
Another few miles into the park you reach Loch
Braden, also with a dam. From the dam, you can see
the mountains on the Isle of Arran. There are two
roads out of the park from here. You can follow
signs from this dam to the Stincher Bridge and
Falls. Large Image.
A couple of miles from the dam at Loch Braden,
you reach the small Stincher Falls next to the road
that runs between Straiton and Newton Stewart.
These are scenic falls with seating areas and a
popular trail that follows the river downhill to
the larger Stinchar Falls about a 3 mile hike
out following a marked trail.
There is also a well marked, man made path from
here through woodland and over the 1,532 ft Cornish Hill to Cornish
Straiton Village is situaed 7 miles
north of here with an Inn for meals and more