Old Peat Track
Start location: Baitlaws (NS 984 301)
End location: between Pinnacle and The Seat (NT 002 248)
Geographical area: Strathclyde and Lanarkshire
Path Type: Rural Path
Path distance: 7.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Baitlaws is sign-posted from the A702, just west of Lamington - parking is available on the north side of the main road, 200m east of the road end. At the entrance to Baitlaws House, veer right, and where the tarmac road turns left, go through the farm gate to join a hardcore and grassy track, parallel to the road but slightly elevated. The track is easily followed initially, although it later diverges from the modern line - attempting the line marked on older maps will require crossing the drystane dyke as it lies on the other side up Bent Rig. The old track comes and goes, but in parts is a distinct green track. The section approaching Ewe Hill runs along a shelf and is very clear indeed. The forest noted on the Landranger OS map has been recently felled (c.2011?) and replaced by an extensive windfarm. There is now a wide hardcore track which follows the ridge to Hardrig Head and over the Deil's Barn Door. Our surveyor requires a return visit to try to ascertain the relationship of the old track to the more recent introductions as the weather was atrocious last time around.
The onward route to the area between Pinnacle and The Seat is as yet unsurveyed. It too is likely to have been affected by the Clyde Windfarm, but we would welcome information as to the current condition of this most southerly section of the old route.
OS Landranger 72 (Upper Clyde Valley)
This path is marked on some of the old Ordnance Survey maps as Peat Road and then later as Old Peat Track. The path must have been very important to the locals to be named in maps. It is a very long path to be walking to cut and then carry peat back. Peat cutting is often seen as specifically a Highlands & Islands activity, so it is interesting to see evidence that peat cutting was important to other parts of Scotland. However, the Old Statistical Account (1791-99) for Lamington parish reported that "The fuel is mostly coal, there being little use made of peat here, except in the drying of corn, and for the kiln and making of malt". And although the New Statistical Account (1834-45) reports that "The minister has a right to peat, fuel, turf and divot, ... which i exercise as often as i have occasion to use all or either of them", it goes on to state that "Peats were formally generally used as fuel in this parish, but the mosses from which they are dug being both distant, and not of easy access, nor of very good quality, they have long been but little resorted to". It seems that the old track may have been so long because the nearest peatbanks were not extensive and were exhausted relatively quickly, but this distance will have in turn made the use of peat less appealing.
The topography to the south of the ridge between Ewe Hill and Hardrig Head has been totally altered, firstly by the tree planting, and now by its felling and the windfarm. Our surveyor was unable to find any peatbanks, and he was told by the present landowner that there had been no cutting since at least c.1972 when he bought the estate. However, some horizontal straight lines were observed on the south side of Startup Hill, not far above the old track, which may represent old peatbanks. We are told that horizontal banks are typical of the east of Scotland, whilst those in the west tend to be vertically orientated. We'll be interested to hear what kind of peatbanks (if any) are to be found at the end of the Peat Road.