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John Brown's Walk at Muirkirk 3.5km. This walk out over the moorlands from Priesthill Farm takes us to the place where the Covenanter, John Brown was fatally shot by Graham of Claverhouse in 1685. Not a vistage of his house remains except traces of its dimension 40 yards south east of the monument. It was occupied until the late 1800's. Brown's memorial is one of several in the district to the 82 local martyrs who died for their faith. The monument was erected and the grave enclosed from money collected at a sermon preached here in 1825 by the Rev John Milwaine. The epitaph on the stone is in the form of an acrostic. Apart from the meagre living he would have been able to eke from the land, Brown worked as a carrier, moving goods around on horseback. His occupation and piety led him to be known as the Christian Carrier. The route out to the memorial is over fairly rugged moorland, the habitat of the grouse and other moorland birds. Along its route the Ponesk Burn, a tributary of the River Ayr, has its source. Close by is an undeveloped footpath to the former village of Glenbuck, though open cast coal mining may restrict freedom of movement. This route passes Sclanon Hill and the sources of the River Ayr at Glenbuck Bog.
Old Railway Walk at Muirkirk 4km. Industrial life of a past era brings nostalgic memories on the walk which follows close to the routes of the old railways lines and the canal. Part of the walk is made on the ground of the canal bank and along the hard standing of the former pug and main railway lines. The railway came to Muirkirk in 1848 with the opening of the Auchinleck to Muirkirk branch line and the arrival of Engine No 31 - The Orion. From then minerals were more easily transported from the pits to the iron work furnaces with spur lines into the production area. The canal was dug much earlier, in 1790, to facilitate the transport of cheap coal by raft type barges from Lightshaw, Auldhouseburn and Crossflat pits and a newly discovered bed of limestone at Ashieburn which became known as Newhouse quarry. "Bogie" roads led from all of these places to the waterway and are easily followed today on the walk. The route passes Auldhouseburn House, built in 1610 and rebuilt and extended in 1884. An escape tunnel from the old house to a nearby burn was said to be retained to preserve the house's historic link with the Covenanters - the local division's flag being kept there. There is a panoramic view of the village from many places on this walk and on the inward journey, the clock tower of Kames Institute, once a recreation centre for the village, latterly an Outdoor Pursuit Centre, commands the skyline.
Twa Brigs Walk at Muirkirk 5.5km. A short walk full of interest, the two brigs in question are steeped in history. Thanks to the work of local men they have been renovated and restored so that their historic past is preserved. On the way to the brigs, there is a cairn erected to the memory of John Loudon McAdam, the road builder, who laid the first stretch of experimental road in Muirkirk, when he was owner of the tar works there. Tibbies Brig (Garpel Bridge) was so renamed after a Muirkirk worthy who lived in a clay biggin at Garpelside. Tibby Pagan made a few shillings by selling small items from her basket around the countryside, but her popularity surrounded her singing and poetry. She published a volume in 1803 which included one of the best known "Ca' the Yowes tae the Knowes". A cairn was erected in 1931 on the site of her former house and has been restored. On the way are the fossil burn and the Cauld Water spout. Sanquhar Brig was another vital link which greatly helped the coach traffic in its day. The brig fords the Garpel river on the old drover's road to Sanquhar. In the 1793 Statistical Account of Scotland mention is made of a great new road from Glasgow to Strathaven then by Muirkirk to Sanquhar to Dumfries. The old brig of wooden structure has been replaced by a metal pedestrian bridge. One of the many wells in the vicinity is Minister's Well (or God is Love Well) a fine spring of water, clear and cold as steel. On the route to Sanquhar Brig there is evidence of lead, coal and iron ore mining, and some evidence of the tar works. A short distance from the brig there is an example of a Bronze age oblong hut similar to others in the area. Sanquhar Brig is a tranquil picnic spot.
Cairntable Walk at Muirkirk 10km. This is more a climb than a walk, Cairntable being 1,944 feet above sea level. It is the chief 'mountain' in the shire and takes its rise some 24 miles from the sea. The route follows what is known locally as the March fence. A progress marker is reached on ascending The Steele which is 1,356 feet above sea level Auld House burn, one of the small tributaries of the River Ayr. which flows through Muirkirk, has its source at 1,750 feet, A climb to the top is well rewarded by a magnificent view.
On a clear day the Isle of Arran and Ben Lomond can be seen on the horizon. A cairn on top was built in 1920 in memory of the men and women of the village who fell or served in the Great War. It was built in line with two smaller cairns. Cairntable has been called the hill of a hundred springs. Down the western side is a fine spring of pure water named Cairntable Cauldron (or the boiling well). The route is also over a grouse moor and like other walks is a sanctuary for bird life. In season can be spotted the golden plover, lapwing, curlew, snipe, skylark and hen harrier. Several fabulous stories abound about Cairntable. One has it that the Picts made use of the spring water there to steep heather of which they made a delicious drink. Cairntable dominates the skyline to the south of the village and in season takes on magnificent colours when the heather is blooming.
Sanquhar Walk at Muirkirk 28km. The route follows the old drover's road from Muirkirk to Sanquhar, with the option of turning eastward along its route at Fingland to head instead for Wanlockhead, a much further destination (32km). The building of the Sanquhar road significantly improved short and long distance communication. The Great New Inn, built in1790 at the top of Furnace Road in the village was a halfway house on the coach run from Ayr to Lanark and Edinburgh and also served travellers on the Strathaven - Sanquhar run. A few years before, work started in digging out the Lade which was to supply the furnaces of the iron works with water from the River Garpel. The course of the Lade was from 200 yards above the Sanquhar Brig round the skins of Cairntable to a dam behind the furnace. The initial steps on the road out of Muirkirk follow that to the brig of the same name, passing McAdam's stone. Before reaching the Sanquhar Brig there is a landmark called Whisky Knowe so named legend has it, because contraband whisky was hidden there by smugglers on the run from the Exciseman. As far as is known, none has been found! Once over the Brig, White Horse is reached (a stone there resembles a horse). To the west lies Wardlaw Hill (1,630 ft) where there is a monument to the late Col JGA Baird, laird of Wellwood, erected by his appreciative workers. Baird was a noted benefactor to the community. The onward road takes the walker through a forest plantation where it is important to follow signs. This track emerges on to a hard standing farm road which goes all the way to Sanquhar. Landmarks on the way - include Fingland, the junction for the walk to Wanlockhead.
Muirkirk has the feeling of a remote community but is on the main route to Ayr from the M74 at Douglas. The walks illustrated on the Muirkirk map give a flavour of the industrial and social history of the area.