An all abilities trail of several hundred metres has been built to enable visitors to walk around the Garrochar Wildlife Ponds, within a short distance of the carpark on the Old Military Road, by Balloch Bridge. These ponds were re-created on the site of former Curling Ponds and have become the perfect habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The original curling pond was initially built by the people of Creetown who formed the Kirkmabreck Curling Club in 1838 and curling continued in the winter months until 1945 when the vagaries of the weather led to the decision to play on an indoor rink in Ayr.
The three wildlife ponds today have been deliberately designed in different sizes and depths to attract a wide variety of wildlife, from frogs and toads, to newts, fish, dragon and damsel flies and birds.
An interpretation board at the carpark side of the ponds challenges you to recognise various species of flower and animal, including The Common Frog, the Greater Ringed Dragonfly, the Common Lizard, Wild Teasel, Meadow Crane’s Bill and the Yellow Flag Iris.
In addition to these naturally occurring species, a range of native and exotic trees have been planted around the pond in recent years, including poplar, rowan, hazel, apple, great white Japanese cherry, golden willow and Spanish chestnut.
Balloch Community Woodland gained specific permission to plant these trees, and they further reflect the theme of blending the past with the present, and the traditional with the exotic, reflected in other parts of the forest such as the poetry stone circle.
On the hillside at the far side of the ponds you might spot an ancient rowan – in folklore known as a magical tree which will protect against malevolent beings - sheltering under the line of the woodland beyond.
On the roadside of the ponds a wooden roundhouse provides an interpretation shelter and meeting point and was designed and built by Alex Rigg and Gordon Donald in 2007 with green oak, using traditional techniques.
Inside the roundhouse and in its environs a range of interpretative materials on the history, trees and wildlife of Balloch Wood, and a map marking out the walking routes, provide a focal point for interpretation aimed at enhancing your understanding and enjoyment of the woodland.