Miles = 5.7.
Walk up Barone Hill
Start at the exit from the pier, then over the Zebra crossing, turn right and head for the first left which is High Street.
Head up this road till you pass The Leisure Pool, which is near your turn off point, and look between the nearby trees and you will see Barone Hill in the distance, and just after that turn right onto what we locals know as Charlies Park. Head along this path till you come to a wooden bridge which will take you onto The Lovers Walk, but stop here as many locals feed the wild birds at this bridge, so you will see plenty of Tits , Chaffinches, Blackbirds etc, which are quite tame, and will expect you to be bringing food for them.
Onwards, along the Walk with the Kirk Dam to your left, and observe how little water there is to be seen, it was not always like that.
In my younger days it was my play area and a Birding favourite spot. In the winter it was great for ice skating, although to look at it now it is had to believe, but it is a haven for ducks and waders, and if you are lucky you may hear Waterails, Mallards, Grey Herons, and Teal. I say hear, as you will seldom see them, but a pair of Buzzards are resident in the section, so you may be lucky to see some wildlife.
Onwards once more and you are alongside a stream which brought water from the nearby area to supply water to the Kirk Dam,( look out for Dippers and Grey Wagtails) which was then fed into The Mill Lade and was used in the Mills at what was called Mill Street, and still is.
Come to a wooden gate, go through and go left onto the Loch Fad Road, but before you do,
look straight ahead up to the Craigberoch Woods as Buzzards and Ravens are in those woods, and if it is summer, loads of Swallows, House Martins , plenty of Willow Warblers, White Throats .
Carry along this single track road till you come to the Chapelton Woods that you will see ahead on your right.. Favourite for Wood Pigeons and has a Heronry a short distance further along.
This is a great place for Butterflies in the season, with Orange Tips being one of the first to appear, also Smooth Newts and moths like the Red Necked Footman which was a first for Bute, found at the entrance to these woods, and plenty of others with nightime and daytime fliers in abundance.
Carry on , looking left, and you will find more Buzzards and maybe a hunting Hen Harrier, and watch your feet as at times the road is covered in minute Frogs and Toads.
You will in a short while head slightly uphill with Oak Trees in abundance, then it levels off and you came to a three way junction. Left, and you arrive at the Causeway at Loch Fad, straight on and you arrive at Woodend House, which was until recently the home of the Factor for the Bute Estate, and was in the past called Kean's Cottage.
You, turn right , and head uphill towards the Dhu Loch (dhu in Gaelic meaning black), listening out for a pair of Jays, which have been around this spot for a few years now, and also Britains smallest bird the Goldcrest , as it can usually be seen or heard amongst the coniferous trees. This road is used by the Water Board, so keep you eye and ears open for their vehicles
Up the fairly steep tarred road till you come to a cattle grid. Now if it is wet, it is very slippy, and either lift the chain of the gate post and enter that way, or hold on to that same post and swivel round it, but remember to replace the chain as you are now in Highland Cattle domain.
Carry on till you come to a large Sycamore tree on your left, and just after that you will notice a break in the fence to your right. This is the route that you will take after you get to the top of Barone hill.
There are usually plenty of Highland Cattle around for you to take photos of and they are very docile, but if you have a dog, take care.
Up and over a small rise in the road and you will see the path that you will take directly in front of you. Carry on to the left hand bend in the road and head uphill in the well used path to the style at the drystane dyke at the top .This is a good section for seeing grasshoppers if the time is right. Over the style, turn right and head uphill on the last lap to the top, looking for very colourful caterpillars that frequent this last section.
Now you have arrived, and is the time to enjoy the views that I put on my web site.
Flask and sarnies out, find a dry stone or bunch of heather to sit on, and relax.
Fed and watered, head back the way that you came till you get near that very large Sycamore tree and go left through the opening and head for the woods.
Over the very slippy style, (if it has been wet) and follow the path down till you come to a pedestrian and tractor gates. Down the slippery slopes till you come to the Loch Fad road once again. Go left and retrace your steps past Barone Park Farm and down to the Lovers walk once more.
It is up to you to go back the way that you came but as an alternative you may carry on up the tarry road till you come to Barone Road. Veer right and head along and down staying on the same road till you come to it's junction with High Street once more. Go left and head down to Guildford Square where you may get an ice cream and a seat to sit on and enjoy it.
I hope that you have enjoyed this walk and will do others that I have written about sometime in the future.
Update 14-04-2014. The tree felling is now complete, so you can now return the original way, but still taking care , due to scattered branches and deep ruts on footpath.