Location and Access
In New Cumnock where the A76 takes a dog-leg take the B741 to Dalmellington and then very soon after take the road on the left down into Glen Afton. Robert Burns worked as a shepherd in this glen in the 1780s and the commemorative Burns Cairn is 2km down the road. He was also a decent birder:
Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes!
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise!
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream –
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!
Thou stock dove whose echo resounds thro the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear –
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair.
The Glen is still beautiful and good for birds today. It comprises some 8km of upland river valley with scattered broadleaf woodland and conifer plantation. Park at the monument or at the reservoir at the head of the glen (taking care to observe access restrictions) and explore the glen on foot or by bike along the byway. New Cumnock is served by buses along A76 and trains on the Kilmarnock-Carlisle line.
Quite country road but be alert for occasional traffic, several places to park, most of valley can be traversed by wheelchair up to base of dam. Recent rumour of locked gate at cottages.
Easy ride from New Cumnock.
The glen is good for summer migrants, especially at the lower end where the trees are denser, including Whitethroat, Willow and Sedge Warbler, Redstart and Tree Pipit. Also present are Garden and Wood Warbler, Blackcap, Pied Flycatcher and Crossbill. Dipper, Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail frequent the burn and Buzzard breed well in the area.
There is a long tradition of public access here and it is easy to get to the reservoir and onto the surrounding uplands. There are plans to upgrade existing footpaths and to create a new circular cycle route around the reservoir. A public right of way runs through the forest and there is informal access to forest tracks.