About 30 km of tracks and paths have been joined together to create varied trails through the beautiful countryside near the village of Barr. All trails start and finish at the Barr Trails car park.
- Fairy Knowe Trail (sign-posted) 5.5 km / 3.5 miles
Other trails (partially sign-posted):
- Dinmurchie Trail 5.1 km / 3.25 miles
- Devil’s Footprint Trail 6.8 km / 4.25 miles
- Changue Forest Trail 13.1 km / 8.25 miles
In partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland, South Ayrshire Council developed, promotes and maintains the paths network centred on Barr.
Barr Trails car park, Changue Road, 1 km east of Barr. Note: this replaces the old car park off Changue Road. PHOTO: JANEY GILLESPIE
Fairy Knowe Trail Photo: CLIVE DRUMMOND
Fairy Knowe Trail 5.5 km / 3.5 miles
Down the track from the car park the walk follows the Water of Gregg past Changue House to a point where the track forks sharp right and ascends to the forest. Continuing through the trees for 500yds the route bears left along a woodland trail. From this elevated route overlooking the Gregg Valley occasional views are glimpsed through the trees over the Changue Forest to the hills beyond. Once clear of the trees and on to the open hill an impressive vista opens up to the east.
Haggis Hill, Rowantree Hill and Pinbreck Hill form an impressive backdrop and beyond the Nick of the Balloch, an exciting hill pass on the road from Crosshill and Barr, which meets the Straiton road at the Rowantree Toll. Descending to a wooden footbridge the burn is crossed at an attractive waterfall and the way continues down along a narrow ridge to the valley below. Care should be taken when negotiating this ridge, as the path is steep and often slippery.
Traversing the burn you reach a delightful spot called the Fairy Knowe where it is worth pausing for a minute and looking back up the gully to where the burn rushes down a spectacular cleft in the hills. At this point you have the option, either to walk back down the Gregg Valley to the start or if you feel energetic you can turn right and continue along the Devil’s Trail to make a longer yet rewarding excursion.
Dinmurchie Trail Trail
Dinmurchie Trail 5.1 km / 3.25 miles
The village of Barr is known by local people as “The Barr”, which is thought to mean the confluence of the waters. If you are lucky, you may see some of the wildlife found in this area; including deer, foxes, hares, kestrels and buzzards.
A notable location on the outskirts of Barr is Dinmurchie Farm, which was the birth place of James Dalrymple (1619 – 1695) who became the first Viscount of Stair and was the author of the “Institutes of the law of Scotland.”
From an historical viewpoint, the village is well worth exploring. The area has a considerable involvement with Covenanting. In the old churchyard there are two Martyrs’ stones, one of which is to Edward McKeen who was arrested by soldiers at the farm of Dalwyne following suspicion that a prayer meeting was taking place. He was dragged out, and after some questioning, the officer in charge shot him twice through the head. One of the soldiers of the party thought he saw McKeen move, and shot him a third time.
This all happened in 1685 when such events were commonplace in the “killing times”. You’ll be pleased to know, though, that the area is now known for its peace and tranquillity!
Devil’s Footprint Trail Photo: GILLIAN CRAIG / GILLIAN’S WALKS
Devil's Footprint Trail 6.8 km / 4.25 miles
Legend has it that near High Changue, there is the site of a famous battle between the Laird of Changue and the Devil. The story goes that Changue was getting short of money and he decided to make a bargain with the Devil. He would sell his soul in return for great wealth. The Laird’s fortunes changed and he prospered for many years. When the time came to deliver his soul the Laird reneged on his bargain and refused to go. The Devil proceeded to lay hold of him, but Changue placing his Bible on the turf and drawing a circle with his sword around him, sturdily and, as it turned out, successfully defied his opponent. The story must be true because to this day on the hill above High Changue you can still see the Devil’s footprints, the circle drawn by the sword and the mark of the Bible clearly visible on the grass.
Kirstie’s Cairn on the Changue Forest Trail Photo: GILLIAN CRAIG / GILLIAN’S WALKS
Changue Forest Trail 13.1 km / 8.25 miles
The word “Changue” of Gaelic origin means: the large rounded hill-shoulder of the nigh impenetrable inner row of storm-swept mountains. This is certainly a lengthy meaning, but one which accurately describes this area, especially during winter.
Continuing up the Howe of Laggan there are excellent views over the Polmaddie Hill group, which rises to above 1800 feet. This is an area where sheep paths and folds are evident.
The track takes you through the heart of Changue, which is now a commercial forest. The main species which can be seen are Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce and Larch, with some broadleaf trees including Oak, Ash and Birch.
Looking north you can see the well-known Galloway Mountain pass called “Nick of the Balloch”. In olden times this was famous as a smuggling route. Men with packhorses would follow the perilous path and at the summit drink from the “brandy well”, a spring which still flows with crystal clear water.