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Doon, Loch

A reservoir in East Ayrshire, Loch Doon represents the largest freshwater loch in Southern Scotland, lying at the head of the River Doon, 4 miles (6 km) south of Dalmellington. Extending for 5½ miles (9 km) from north to south and with a maximum width of 1½ miles (2.5 km), the border with Dumfries & Galloway runs along its eastern margin while the loch serves as the principal reservoir of the Galloway Hydro-Electric Power Scheme. The loch is only accessible by paved road from the north, with its southern end extending into the Galloway Forest and representing some of the remotest land in the country. Although there is little in the way of settlement around the loch today, Loch Doon Castle was built in the 13th Century and their is evidence of occupation dating back to prehistoric times. A number of ancient canoes were discovered in the loch in 1823, containing an oak war-club, a battle-axe and some large animal teeth. One of these canoes is now preserved in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

Around 1760, tunnels were driven under the loch by the Earl of Cassillis and McAdam of Craigengillan to lower its level and recover land for agriculture. However, the resulting land proved to have little value.

An aerial gunnery school was established around the loch during the First World War, involving the construction of an airfield, several military camps and a light-railway, the remains of which can still be seen running down the east side of the loch. The project was ill-considered because the weather made flying difficult for much of the year and, after questions were asked in Parliament, the scheme was abandoned in 1918.

A dam was built at the north end of the loch in 1935-36, and the water level raised to create a reservoir for generating hydro-electricity. The loch is a popular recreational fishery, with numerous trout and char.

The Loch Doon Igneous Complex extends to the southwest of the loch. This is one of four sizeable masses of granite injected into the Silurian sedimentary rocks of the Southern Uplands of Scotland around 400 million years ago. The complex extends over the hills of Craiglee (523m), Craigmawhannal, Craigfionn, Shalloch on Minnoch, Macaterick, Hoodens Hill, Mullwharchar and Craignaw, to another Craiglee (531m) in the south. The surrounding greywackes and shales have been metamorphosed by the heat of the granite. The other igneous complexes lie to the east and southeast at Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, Cairnsmore of Fleet and Criffel.


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