Start/Finish: Greenock Cut Visitor Centre
OS Map: Landranger 63
Grid Reference: NS 227 738
Distance: 18.5k, 11.5 miles
Time: 5-6 hours
Terrain: Predominately low gradient track
This full day circular trail goes through open moorland, rolling fields, enclosed forests and offers great views of the Firth of Clyde and Cowal Peninsula. Step back in time on the Kelly Cut as you walk alongside the engineering masterpiece by Robert Thom.
The route: From the car park follow the green signs over the bridge, onto the Kelly Cut. Continue for 5km then head west alongside Kelly burn towards Wemyss Bay. Walk through Kellybank Caravan Park. At Weymss Bay Caravan Park take the first right following the road to Kelly Mains farm. At the farm turn right through the metal gate onto a grassy path, this takes you along a tree lined track to Finnoch Bog farm. Turn right onto Spey Road following the signs for Leapmoor Forest. After passing Hill Cottage use the metal pedestrian gate to access the next 4.5km of forest track. At the north end of the forest, use the stile onto to access the open moorland. Go up hill, following the wall to locate the second stile then downhill onto the ‘Greenock Cut Nature Trail’ to return to the start.
The Kelly Cut aqueduct was built in 1845 to supply Loch Thom with more water, such was the demand from the thriving industries and the increasing population of Greenock. Look out for curlews at the reservoir and the birds of prey hen harriers patrolling the moorland.
Leapmoor Forest a Sitka spruce plantation is cropped every 35-50. The versatile wood is used in ship construction as well as paper and pallet making. Look out for sparrowhawks nesting amongst the trees as well as crossbill, coal tit and goldcrests. Take care as logging activity is ongoing.
Wildlife: In summer common lizards bask on rocks, golden ringed dragonfly patrol the waterways, green tiger beetles chase their prey and parent birds rush to feed their young.
Blood Moss is scattered with archaeological remains such as long cists, ring ditches and enclosures, all built over 1000 years ago. At Kelly Burn there is burial cairn that dates back over 4000 years and can still be found today. Although sometimes hard to find, these features reveal an insight into how past inhabitants once lived on the landscape.
NB Please be aware sheep and cattle are often in the fields at Kelly Mains Farm.