Jul 29 2011 by Edwin Lawrence, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
GOOD times are coming back to beautiful Loch Doon.
And loch lovers are reclaiming its bonnie banks.
The beauty spot was in jeopardy through litter and filth.
And this saw caravans banned from the scenic shores.
But it also meant a lot of decent people lost a time-honoured destination.
However, work has now begun on a 50-pitch caravan park.
And this will be a fully-authorised facility for people who genuinely care.
Councillor Drew Filson has championed this group since they had to leave, more than two years ago.
He said: “I’m delighted – I’ve never worked with a more committed group of people.
“They lost out through the irresponsible acts of others.
“But they have raised funds, gained consents, and will have their site ready in April next year.”
Councillor Filson pointed out: “The site will also boost Dalmellington’s shops and businesses.
“Site contracts are going to local firms, and there will be berths for visiting caravanners.”
He added: “The site is latest in a series of initatives to kick start Loch Doon as a tourist destination.
“Nearby Craigengillan estate has the dark skies observatory, kayaking facilities, and the replica fort.”
Tom Auld is a member of the Loch Doon Caravan Club, who will run the new site.
He said: “We’ve raised thousands of pounds at car boot sales and bingo nights.
“We have a 50-year lease from landowner Alistair Gavin, and we’ve had our plans drawn up by an architect.”
The club has 28 members, who are likely to spend the whole season at Loch Doon.
Mr Auld highlighted: “Our members are not just from the Doon Valley, they come from all over Ayrshire.”
The club members, along with visitors to the 22 remaining berths will provide a significant extra spend in Dalmellington.
And Mr Auld, 52, is delighted that a Loch Doon tradition is being restored.
He said: “My own parents and grandparents were regulars at the loch.
“And it became a way of life for my family and many others.”
Mr Auld admitted: “Things got out of hand with people taking old caravans up there, living in them for the summer, then just abandoning them.
“Some of the campers were undesirables too – leaving empty booze bottles, and even used syringes, lying about.”
East Ayrshire Council, working with police and landowners, decided a tougher approach was needed.
And a ranger is now managing and monitoring the behaviour of visitors to the loch.