Ollie’s Walk: A Darvel Loop above the Irvine Valley

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A Darvel Loop
Distance: 9.5km/6mls
Time: 2hrs 30mins
Terrain: Largely single track roads and pavements.
Overview: A longer walk, but one that offers splendid views over the Irvine Valley and passes many farms on the way.  One is Lochfield Farm, birthplace of Sir Alexander Fleming, the inventor of penicillin.

Starting point: Driving from Strathaven, take the sharp right turn after the bend leaving Priestland, and drive uphill for a few hundred yards. Park at the Darvel New Cemetery.
Follow the road uphill until reaching a junction.  Ahead is an unusual view of Loudoun Hill in the distance.  Although we have done Loudoun Hill as one of Ollie’s walks previously, we plan to do it as a walk from Darvel along the old railway tracks in a future edition.  At the junction, turn left, following a sign to Lochfield Farm.   The walk heads uphill at this point, with a bench under a tree offering the opportunity for a seat and the view down towards Darvel.  Continue uphill, following the road round to the left at Henryton Farm.  We did this walk on March 26th and the fields were filled with new-born lambs.  If you have your dog with you, remember to keep it well under control. After a few miles you will pass the entrance to Lochfield Farm, where there is a sign denoting it as the birthplace of Sir Alexander Fleming.  Fleming was a
Scottish bacteriologist and Nobel Prize winner, best known for his discovery of penicillin.  He was born on 6 August 1881, the son of a farmer.

Follow the road along this long, straight section, until it reaches a bend and drops sharply downhill to a burn.  Cross over the bridge, before heading back uphill to another junction. Turn left at the junction, passing a white cottage, with views over towards Whitelee Windfarm.  The road drops down again to another bridge over the burn, before rising back to the entrance to a Plant Hire company.   For the next mile or two, the road rises and falls, and soon Loudoun Hill comes back into view in the distance.  You will also be able to see over towards the wind turbines above Glengavel Reservoir.  Continue along Foulpapple Road, passing the entrances to around four farms, before turning left onto Burn Road at a cottage on the right.  There are a few cottages on Burn Road so it is easy to spot the correct junction to take.  The road twists and turns, again with views over to Loudoun Hill and down to Darvel itself, before dropping sharply to reach the Main Street just past the Darvel Telephone Museum.   Continue along Darvel Main Street until just after the road sign saying Strathaven 10 miles, then turn left uphill, passing the blue sign indicating the start of the walk to Loudoun Hill.  Follow the road uphill until you reach the cemetery where this walk ends.