For reasons that are still not clear to me, I've been sort-of in training for a trail run. As a result, I'd been looking around for long-ish trails that could be linked up by public transport. And then I came across a routecard for The Weaver's Trail on East Renfrewshire council's webpage - https://www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/whitelee-routes The route notes don't give much away, but with some judicious use of Google satellite view, I thought I'd give it a go. I'm sticking this report up so that if I search for the Weaver's Trail again, I'll find this, and it'll remind me not to do it.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon I took the train from Glasgow Central out to Hairmyres. Once across the station car park I turned right onto the B764 (heading SW) and started running along the pavement. The road continued past a few roundabouts before gradually leaving buildings behind. After 3km, just past North Kirkland Farm on the right, I turned left onto a farm track. There were two gates here - one straight on, and one leading to a track to the right. It's a 50/50 chance ... and I chose the wrong one. Take the gate to the right.
The correct track wound pleasantly through farmland with Polnoon Water on the left. At Mains Farm I passed through a kissing gate then continued, slightly uphill (SW) for 500m until I met the road coming from Eaglesham. I turned left onto the tarmac then followed the road for the next 3.5km, ignoring a fork L after 700m.
At a National Wind Energy Centre sign (by the looks of it, an informal parking area) I turned right onto the forestry track. At the first junction I ignored a track heading right, and a track coming in from the left, and continued heading SW. The good forestry track continued, undulating through the trees.
The forest gave way - presumably cleared in the not too distant past - then about 1.5km after leaving the minor road I came to an unexpected junction. A sign indicated that Parrot Moor Farm was on the main track, so I continued, climbing slightly, soon arriving at the farm. I'd originally planned to head along the farm track as it looked like that would minimise the amount of pathless rambling - but there was a very closed gate and plenty of 'no access to windfarm' type signs. I needed a plan B. I initially tried setting out across the open moorland - but it was incredibly deep tussocky grass with thistles etc. I was wearing shorts. I needed a plan C.
I headed back to the unexpected junction and this time took the turn, heading W briefly, then SW. This went really well for another couple hundred metres before the forestry track ended at a series of mounds of gravel. It was not possible to skirt the mounds, but I discovered they could be crossed. I hauled myself up and down the rocky mini-mountains to reach the end of the track. My heart sank - beyond the track it looked impassable - deep, wet bog and the remains of the cleared forest. But then - only 200m further on - a windfarm access vehicle drove past! Heartened, I headed down the last gravel mound. Then I noticed that in places logs had been laid over boggy sections. Clearly this had been a route taken by whatever forestry machinery had dragged the timber out, and it was surprisingly easy to follow. Soon after I arrived at a sort-of-stile, and leapt with dry feet onto a windfarm track.
I followed the track briefly, but knew that I had to head across the heather towards Crook Hill. I took a right turn off the track towards Myers Burn. Crossed the burn, headed up past a small quarried area, then onto the heather. On the plus side, it was easier than the grass from earlier. However, it was unlike any heather I've ever encountered. So deep. So very deep. And the bits that weren't deep, deep, tussocky heather were deep, wet, grassy rakes. My intended route had been to head more or less straight for Crook Hill. That was not going to happen. I instead headed for the windfarm track to the south, eventually stumbling, grateful, onto the track. Feet were soaked but the vegetation had been kind to my bare legs.
I turned left onto the track, uphill towards windmill 48. There was no chance of me spending extra time negotiating tussocks, so I skipped Crook Hill and instead followed the main track round towards windmill 61. At a gate I passed a runner sporting a numbered bib, closely followed by a support vehicle - both heading the back the way I'd come. Turned out that there was a 50km ultra run on. And here I was grumbling about some tussocks. From the back of windmill 61 I scouted about until I eventually found what I think was the route, heading along a firebreak from the gravel area behind the windmill. Although very wet underfoot in places, there was, excitingly, fleeting stretches that were almost a path.
After 500m, at a track crossing, a wooden crossroads sign greeted me. The arms of the sign pointing where I'd been and where I was going were covered over in black plastic - encouraging! I crossed the track and continued along the barely-there track, heading SSW. It got a little rougher as it dropped down a little, but nothing as bad as the tussocks. When the derelict High Overmuir came into view I followed the vague notion of a track round to the left, now heading SSE. Despite very tall grass this section was easier to follow, and slightly drier underfoot (these things are relative).
Eventually this came out at a sign and gate - and best of all - a real track. Even better, the sign wasn't covered over!
Navigation and terrain obstacles out of the way, it was now just a matter of plodding onwards. After a pleasant 1km on the track from the end of the almost-track, the minor road to Low Overmuir was joined. Ignoring a turn to the left, this continued gently downhill past farmland towards Mucks Bridge.
From Mucks Bridge an unwelcome climb came before a longer descent down into the houses between Darvel and Newmilns. I continued along the main road into the town before catching the bus (these were every 15 mins on Sat in July 2019) into Kilmarnock, then the train home towards food and dry shoes...
The notes on the council's routecard do point out that they plan to surface the route at some point. I think I'll wait until then to repeat the experience.
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