The River Stinchar flows through the villages of Barr, Pinwherry, and Colmonell before reaching the sea at Ballantrae.
The villages of Barrhill and Pinmore are situated on tributaries of the river.
Ballantrae lies about 12 miles south of Girvan, on one of the most scenic
stretches of coast road in southern Scotland. Developing as a fishing
village near the mouth of the River Stinchar, it was once a notorious centre
for the smuggling trade.
The village is dominated by the ruins of Ardstinchar Castle, whose stones, it is said, helped to build the bridge below. It was a home to the Kennedys of Bargany. The 17th century Bargany Aisle stands in the churchyard holding the remains of Gilbert Kennedy who was slain in a bitter feud with the Earl of Cassillis in 1601.
In the main street are the church, dating from 1819, the Kings Arms Hotel, various shops and cafes, a bank, a garage, the village hall, the doctor’s surgery, BRICC House and the Craigiemains Garden Centre. There are also tennis courts and a bowling green, with a putting green down by the shore.
The harbour was built of red sandstone blocks in 1847, the basin excavated from solid rock. As well as a base for fishermen, at one time it was also a port of call for the Stranraer to Glasgow steamers. It is now mainly used by small fishing craft and pleasure boats, though the initials BA (for Ballantrae) are still used as registration letters on many larger fishing vessels in the Clyde.
The very fine old Ballantrae Bridge was built in 1770 with two main arches and a smaller third arch. Often, when the river is low, many salmon can be seen in the pools below the bridge, waiting for sufficient water to get up river to their spawning grounds. The new road bridge to the west was built in 1964.
A long shingle spit has grown up between the river and the sea, part of which is a wildlife reserve for Arctic, common and little tern. There is a wealth of other birdlife, including oystercatcher, ringed plover, sandpiper, sand martin, eider duck and greylag goose, with gannet and manx shearwater offshore.
There are fine woods to the south of Ballantrae surrounding Glenapp Castle, now a Michelin starred hotel.
Situated in the glen of the River Stinchar, Colmonell has a long reputation
as one of the most attractive villages in south Ayrshire and in the past its
praises were sung by local bards – "A beauty, in a beauteous dell, /
Serenely fair sits Colmonell".
The name of the village is derived from the church, which in the 12th century was called Kirk-Colmonell in memory of the patron saint Colmon of Ella, who first brought Christianity to these parts around 600 AD. The present church was built in 1849, known to be the third on this site. The graveyard holds many early gravestones, including those of several covenanters, the best known being that of Matthew McIlwraith. The interior of the church is remarkable for its very fine stained glass windows, particularly the 3 light window by Louis Davis above the pulpit.
Stained Glass Windows page.
The surrounding countryside is
excellent for both hill walking and gentle strolls. There are many riverside
walks. See Walks page.
The small village of Pinwherry is situated about 8 miles south of Girvan on
the A714, surrounded by farmland in this beautiful part of the Stinchar
Pinwherry grew up around the confluence of the River Duisk and the River Stinchar and looks west along the valley to the "False Craig" – Knockdolian Hill. At one time there was a railway station here on the line between Girvan and Stranraer, and also a thriving dairy. There is a Primary School, a village hall, and the Daljarrock Hotel lies less than a mile away.
The ruins of Pinwherry Castle stand within the grounds of Pinwherry House, and can be seen from the road when entering the village from Newton Stewart. It dates from around the end of the sixteenth century.
was built over the Duisk in the early 19th century.
The conservation village of Barr lies in hills about 8 miles inland from
Girvan where the Water of Gregg joins the Stinchar. Much of the village
consists of attractive traditional cottages. There is a village shop and
post office, and a flourishing primary school. the parish church, built in
1878, is located at the north side of the bridge over the Water of Gregg.
The King's Arms hotel dates from the early 1800s.
At the eastern end of the village Changue Road leads to a parking and picnic area where a number of forest walks begin, and also a cycle root to Loch Doon.
At the other end of the village the river is crossed by the fine Stinchar Bridge, built in 1787. On the far side is Alton Albany House, which dates from the 1830s.
From the Stinchar Bridge the B734 winds up the side of Auchensoul Hill towards Girvan, known with some justification as "the screws" road, twisting and turning as it rises above the valley. The road then passes Penwhapple Loch which provides water for Girvan and the surrounding area. The place is now the site of a large wind farm called Hadyard Hill.
The road leaving the north of the village follows the Stinchar upstream
as far as the North Balloch Bridge. Turning right at this junction the road
climbs steadily through the beautiful Nick o'the Balloch, reaching a high
point of 1,276 feet. Just beyond the top of the pass is the spring known as
Notes taken from :
Ayrshire: Discovering a County by Dane Love
Old South Ayrshire Villages by Hugh Maxwell
Ayrshire Kyle and Carrick District by Ken Andrew
Colmonell Parish Church Millennium Calendar 1999 Fiona Hood