Martnaham Loch: A Hidden Gem for Outdoor Enthusiasts


Martnaham Loch is a freshwater lake. Coylton is nearby in the East and South Ayrshire Council Areas. This lake is in the parishes of Coylton and Dalrymple.

This lake is three miles away from Ayr, a town in southwest Scotland. It stretches from northeast to southwest.

A castle sits on an artificial islet in this lake. The Campbells of Loudoun used to own the land, then the Kennedys of Cassillis.

The loch

Martnaham Loch is a big “Kettle Hole” formed by melting glaciers. It gets water from the Sandhill Burn, Whitehill Burn, and Snipe Loch.

Snipe Loch gets water from Loch Fergus. The loch’s outflow is at the southwest end. The Sandhill Burn enters at the northeast end.

The water from Loch Fergus goes into Snipe Loch. It enters between Cloncaird Cottages and Martnaham Lodge.

Martnaham Loch
© Copyright Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

There is a small island on the eastern shore of the lake. The ruins of the old castle exist on high land that used to be an island.

Martnaham has had different names, including Martinham, Martnam, Martna, and Matuane. In 1700, many people even referred to them as Mertineton.

The origin of the name is uncertain, but it could be either Anglian or Gaelic. Any connection to Saint Martin of Tours, who was Saint Ninian’s tutor, would be speculative.

Martnaham Castle

The old castle ruins on Martnam Ynch island in the lake are still visible. The entrance was from the south side, and a stone embankment exists. We do not know who built the castle.

People occupied the building until the 16th century. There are remains of a large building that measured 21 m x 7.5 m. There are also foundations of an annex.

© Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The main block splits into three parts. Thick rubble masonry forms the walls, which stand at a height of 2.0 m. The measurement of it is 12 m x 5 m, visible to the northeast.

The architectural features show the building is from the 16th or 17th century. There might have been a gatehouse near the rectangular building by the causeway.

The site has had dense trees for a long time. Martnaham, Drongan, and Auchencloigh castles could have been part of a defense line.

Legend states that Old King Cole connected his original seat to nearby Loch Fergus. Loch Fergus was the name of King Cole’s opponent.

More Information About Martnaham Loch

Martnaham Loch is a unique site for its western half. A mix of trees surrounds the southwestern end of the lake. Martnaham is a special place for rare birds.

These birds include smew, ring-necked duck, black tern, lesser scaup, and hobby. In autumn and winter, flocks of goldeneye, wigeon, pochard, and teal visit the area.

We often see shoveler, scaup, long-tailed duck, and gadwall. , glaucous, Iceland and Mediterranean gulls visit. Canada geese and whooper swans gather in nearby fields.

Great crested and little grebe also breed here. Regularly visiting birds include oystercatcher, curlew, redshank, and common sandpiper.

Other visitors include whimbrel, ruff, green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit, northern wheatear, and whinchat.

The lake is rich in plants, and Martnaham Wood is one of the big oak woods in Ayrshire. In 1914, someone cut it down, but it has regrown without much trouble.

The lake has plants that grow underwater, float on the surface, or emerge above water.

Martnaham Loch
© Copyright Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The edge of the lake has large areas filled with reeds. The site has many types of plants, such as branched bur-reed and water-plantain.

It also has nodding bur-marigold, trifid bur-marigold, greater spearwort, and eight-stamened waterwort. White and yellow water lilies dominate the deeper water.

Canadian pondweed is an invasive plant that is abundant here. The lake is nutrient-rich but also has eutrophic characteristics.

Martinham Wood has been around for a long time on the eastern side of the lake. It has been there since at least the early 16th century. It has a fence or pale that shows this.

Martinham Wood is an old woodland. It has lots of oak and birch trees in the upper layer. The lower layer has a lot of hazel.

There are also plants like sanicle, bluebell, and dog mercury that grow there often. You will find many fungi, mosses, and liverworts in the woodland.


This lake has everything to offer nature lovers in the UK. It is an ideal place for enjoying time in the touch of nature.

Families from England and Scotland often come here to make special memories together. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful place.

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