Location and Access
Built alongside the River Nith, the village of New Cumnock is approximately 22km from Ayr and about the same distance from Kilmarnock on the A76 Dumfries road. Craigdullyeart Hill (NS 659 159) lies to the north-east of the village and is reached by turning off the A76 (just before the black and white chevron sign) onto the unclassified road at Pathhead / Mansefield about a kilometre from the roundabout at the western end of the village. Continue along this road past Mansefield Mains and Meikle Garclaugh and you will see Corsencon Hill directly ahead.
Just past the second farm there’s a junction and a give-way sign, go straight on here and you will see Craigdullyeart Hill to the left. The road at this point is quite narrow and winds up the valley between Corsencon and Craigdullyeart for about 2 kilometres. Once you reach the end of the tarmac at the top of the hill there is a gravel track which runs into a large spruce plantation to the north-east.
Off-road tracks unsuitable for wheelchair users. -4 places to stop on road and view glen. Turning space at top good for birds.
Quiet byways with some steep gradients.
The area around Craigdullyeart is a mixture of farmland, heather moorland and conifer plantation, creating a mosaic of habitats which attracts a variety of different birds. Exploring the area on foot is obviously the best option, but if you are driving the following technique can be very useful. Go all the way to the top of the road (where the tarmac ends), spend some time scanning along the drystane dykes which run along the bottom of Corsencon on the left, then slowly drive back down using your car as a mobile hide. This allows good close views of birds on either side of the road and you can stop at a number of vantage points which look out over the glen and surrounding countryside. At the top of the glen where the large Sitka Spruce plantation begins, Skylark, Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll can be found, (watch out for Skylarks perching on the fire-beaters by the side of the road), this is also a good area to look for Crossbill. As you come back down the glen, the young plantations on either side of the road are excellent for Stonechat, Whinchat and Meadow Pipit. There is a Black Grouse lek on the lower slope of Corsencon which can be observed from near the top of the road, there are sometimes up to 6 birds here during the breeding season. At other times Black Grouse can be seen amongst the small trees in the plantations or perched up on the drystane dykes which criss-cross the site. Short-eared Owl also breed in the glen, but only seem to do so in years when Field Voles are abundant. Kestrel can always be seen, Sparrowhawk have nested in one of the plantations and there is usually a Buzzard or two over the hill. Curlew are particularly noticeable flying up and down the glen during the breeding season. The lower part of the site where the farmland begins is worth a look for species such as Yellowhammer, Linnet and Bullfinch. In summer the area holds plenty of Warblers and Hirundines and in winter the fields can be covered in Thrushes and Starlings. Early summer is probably the best time for a visit, although there is a fair chance that migrants could be located on Corsencon at the appropriate times during spring and autumn passage.
By following the unclassified road down past Merkland Farm and the front of Corsencon, excellent views can be had over the floodplain of the River Nith where there are often flocks of geese in the winter. To do this, turn left at the road junction on your way back down the glen.
New Cumnock is reasonably well served by public transport, regular buses run from Cumnock and there is a frequent train service from Glasgow / Kilmarnock. The main bus service is the No 43 which leaves The Tanyard in Cumnock twice an hour. Trains from Glasgow and Kilmarnock (or stations in between) are either Carlisle or Newcastle services and run approximately every hour although the times do vary throughout the day. Craigdullyeart and the other nearby New Cumnock sites would be well suited for cycling around as the back roads around the village are fairly quiet. Cycling birders would however be well advised to avoid the A76 outside the boundaries of the village as this is one of the busiest roads in this part of the county.