Friday 13 December 2019

Scotland By Rail - Wemyss Bay walk from station to Kelly Reservoir

Kelly Reservoir with wren

Following on from my previous blog post exploring Wemyss Bay station and the journey there from Glasgow Central. 

This new post charts a nice four mile there-and-back walk uphill from station to moortop reservoir, through wooded gorge, along country track past fields and a few dwellings, onto open moor with pylons and views across the Firth of Clyde to Bute and Arran and the Cowal Peninsula.

There was good birdlife including buzzard, reservoir wren, five jays in some birches, chattering and flitting about, a raven up on the moor. Apparently hen harriers are a possibility. And outside the station down on the shore were lots of gulls, some eiders, swans, cormorants, oystercatchers, more...


The walk:

Watch the ferry arrive or leave, visit the station bookshop and cafe, look for the Red Wheel plaque (see previous post). 
Watch the waterbirds on the shore. A good place for this if the tide is out is from the road bridge immediately south of the ferry and station entrances.

Once you've enjoyed the waterbirds don't cross the bridge into Skelmorlie, turn left at this signpost and walk uphill towards the caravan park:
turn left at this sign just before the road crosses the Kelly Burn

caravan park entrance, walk uphill here

The Kelly Burn, a wooded stream, is on your right and very soon the road turns sharply left. Leave the road and pass straight ahead through wide metal gate:

Follow the footpath uphill, Kelly Burn always on your right.

I find signs like this are rather jarring,
but there definitely are steep banks so take care if children are with you.
lots of oak trees...

Don't turn right across this bridge and gas pipeline:

Instead turn sharp left to leave the Kelly Burn and pass through this gate:

After a short way emerge onto a very minor road and turn right to continue uphill. Turning left takes you through the caravan park as an alternative route back down to the station. 

spot the jay

Pass a house or few a couple of times. Don't worry, this is the correct way.
Now and again you *might* spot small round signs marking the route.

And onto the open moor:

Very strange to see pylons with their wires down. I'm not sure if the wires are currently being renewed or if it's all in the process of being decommissioned.

Looking back over the Firth of Clyde, Arran mountains on far left, Cowal Peninsula on far right, Rothesay straight ahead. The two Bute ferries passed each other half way across.

At the not overly obvious spot illustrated in the photo below walk straight ahead and up onto the reservoir wall. 

If you wished a much longer walk you could turn left and continue on the track another seven or so miles to emerge eventually at Drumfrochar station on the south bank of the Clyde. I haven't done it but it sounds a really interesting station-to-station walk, more info here

Part way along that route is the Greenock Cut Visitor Centre. Again, I haven't been, but I'd like to! Info and opening dates & times here -

As an aside, one of my own favourite station-to-station walks is on the West Highland Line -  from Bridge of Orchy to Tyndrum following the Old Military Road and the curving of the railway round the famous Horseshoe Curve. See my (2012) blog here.

At this not overly obvious spot walk straight ahead and up onto the reservoir wall. 

Kelly Reservoir

reservoir wall with bench
reservoir wren, pencil, watercolour & pen in sketchbook

But please, take your litter home:
crisp & sweet & cigarette packets, and fishing twine. Gathered from under bench and along the reservoir wall

Here's a leaflet showing the whole of the Kelly Cut route, not just the small section I walked -

And here's a nice blog post showing more of these routes -


How to get there:

ScotRail runs hourly trains from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay. Check the Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Stranraer timetable here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.

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