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Old Road from New Cumnock to Dalquhairn

Start location: New Cumnock (NS 616 132)
End location: Nether Holm of Dalquhairn (NX 656 991)
Geographical area: Dumfries and Galloway, Arran and Ayrshire
Path Type:
Path distance: 17.3km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians

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Route Description

Follow the road south up Glen Afton for 9km towards Afton Reservoir, but before Craigdarroch take the right hand fork which sits higher up the valleyside than the route to the dam. Circa NS629048, enter the trees on the west bank of the reservoir (rejoining the route via Craigdarroch) and follow the track south to reach the Afton Water. Keep south up the Afton Water and go over the col on the west side of Alhang, then down the Holm Burn, crossing it to the path on the east slope of Mid Hill of Glenhead, and down the glen to Nether Holm of Dalquhairn where it links up with the old route from Sanquhar to Stronpatrick.

OS Landranger 71 (Lanark & Upper Nithsdale) and 77 (Dalmellington to New Galloway)

Heritage Information

This route is shown as a road on Captain Armstrong & Son's A New Map of Ayrshire (1775) and is clearly marked on Ainslie's Map of the Southern Part of Scotland (1821). However, John Thomson's Atlas of Scotland (1832) shows the route not extending towards Nether Holm, but instead more directly towards Lorg (NS668008).

Later still, the route's alignment in Glen Afton was in part affected by the damming of the Afton Water in the mid-1930s to form the Afton Reservoir. The Ordnance Survey second edition 6" map (1892-1905) clearly shows the route fording the Afton Water to reach Montraw (NS638037).

A Cloven Stone is marked just to the west of the route in Glen Afton. In the Campsies, a Cloven Stone is similarly situated adjacent to the Doups Drove Loan. Both appear to be natural split rocks, although Glen Afton's Cloven Stone has had extra boulders added to it forming a cairn. It is theorised that such markers will have had particular significance to travellers. The Heritage Paths project would like to hear from anyone who has local knowledge about this feature.

On the slopes of Altry Hill, above where this old road from Ayrshire meets the route between Sanquhar and Stroanpatrick, is a natural feature known as Whigs Hole (NS670000). The Old Statistical Account (1791-1799) for the Parish of Dalry describes it thus "In the farm of Altrye, near the top of a hill, there is a trench which seems to have been digged, capable of holding about 100 people. As in this trench one has a view of two different roads, at a considerable distance, without being observed by those persons who travel upon them, the Whigs or Cameronians, as they are usually styled, are said to have frequently made use of it during the time of the persecution in Scotland, both as a place of refuge, and of observation". The situation of Whigs Hole likely infers that the two roads viewed from it are this route from New Cumnock and the route between Sanquhar and Stroanpatrick. The Heritage Paths project would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has visited Whigs Hole, especially if they have photographs of the view. The OSA goes on to state that "there are still some vestiges of a great road through the head of this parish, from Ayrshire to Dumfries"; again quite probably a reference to this old road from New Cumnock.





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