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Benbeoch a surprisingly interesting walk on a mining hill

Benbeoch a surprisingly interesting walk on a mining hill

Postby desmondo1 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:29 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Benbeoch

Date walked: 06/01/2018

Time taken: 4.13 hours

Distance: 12.65 km

Ascent: 379m

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Benbeoch 464m
Sub 2000/Marilyn category
A crisp winters day is welcome following the deluge we suffered for most of this week. Out with the Killie group today for a short walk up to Benbeoch. I didn’t have great expectations of the views but once again, take it all back, with this visibility plenty of things to pick out.
Dalmellington Parish church.jpg

Dalmellington Parish Church
The walk started at Dalmellington Parish Church (The Kirk of the Covenant circa 1846) and was a mixture of paths, tracks, fields and finally the hill. Not too onerous for this time of year. Extremely nippy when getting changed, must be minus something or other.
Benbeoch cairn can be seen from the parking area and if you wanted it could be a straight up and down in an hour or so. As this was a group walk and not simply top bagging we meandered about to create a longer walk.
Spider Stone.jpg

Spider's Stone
From the church a short but very muddy walk along the estate trail brought us to the Spiders Stone. This amazing natural sandstone is locally known as a wishing stone, miners would sit on it on their way to work wishing they were instead going home. In truth I had not heard of it before so an interesting start, another learning day.
Typical mine track.jpg

Typical mine track
Across some fields and then we had to cross the farmyard of Pennyvenie farm. Apparently the farmer can get a bit upset of intruders but thankfully no issues today. Across the New Cumnock road and onto the moorland, open cast site.
This area has a huge mining tradition and the landscape and walking terrain reflects this. Deep mining has long since gone so it became opencast instead. Plenty of mining debris but if it is operational there was no sign of activity today. However, deep vehicle tracks suggest something still happening.
Benbeoch Hill.jpg

We soon reach the base of Benbeoch and rather than a direct ascent we follow some tracks around the back and approach it from the east. Already there are very good views of the Galloway hills, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn’s summit peaks over lower hills with its freshly laid snow covered top.
Benbeoch cairn.jpg

Benbeoch cairn
Past a stack of coal piles and then a short grassy crossing and we reach the cairn, where not a time to linger as the NE wind is bitter. Still, suffer, there is so much to see: snow topped Arran, Ailsa Craig, improved views of the Galloway hills, behind the Glen Afton hills and their very many wind turbines. A plane flashes in the sun, taking off from far away Glasgow airport.
Sadly close by the abandoned mine workings, green water holes, are bleak and industrial. Deforestation not helping the view.
Fox Park.jpg

Fox Park boulders
Then a short wander along to the cliffs and a good ariel view of the odd rock formation at the base of Benbeoch, the crags from below slightly resembling the Giants Causeway. At first glance from up here it appears that it is just rock fall but the boulders have a small stone wall encircling them. Some internet research when home and I found that the crags are actually a protected area, a SSSI, the boulder area is called Fox Park and the barrier wall is for animal/human protection as apparently there are some serious gaps in-between these boulders, danger to life etc.
Dunaskin chimneys.jpg

Dunaskin chimneys in distance
Found a sheltered spot for lunch and then followed the trail back to Craigmark. The walk could have been extended by heading to the twin chimney stacks at Dunaskin but the return would be by the same route.

A large coal bing is prominent towering over the white houses, clearly dated with the number of trees growing on its flanks. At least a small part is being returned to nature, what about the rest?
Typical slag pile.jpg

Waste heaps
As might be expected in this barren land there was minimal wildlife on show.
Still nice to be out for a walk in dry conditions and in good company.

Time: 4hr 13
Ascent: 379m
Distance: 12.65km
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