Council bosses have insisted they’ve played no part in the removal of the famous New Cumnock ‘Steppies’ – despite concern from residents that they can no longer be seen.

Some believe that the ‘Steppies’, which lead across the River Afton towards Castlemains farm, have been around since Robert Burns’ time in the area.

But several residents on social media reported last week that the stones had been removed from the river

One resident, Rab Wilson, said: “[It’s a] real shame to see such an iconic piece of New Cumnock history The ‘Steppies’, across the Afton to Castlemains – have been removed without any consultation with the community.

“I know they’re not as old as some people would have you think, but they’ve been a New Cumnock fixture for several generations.

“Fords over rivers and stepping stones are wonderful anachronistic leftovers from distant ages.

“Sir Walter Scott would deliberately divert his coach and horses in early 1800s to a ford rather than a brig.

“This seems a wilful act of deliberate vandalism in removing the ‘Steppies’.

“The stones themselves, or most of them, can be seen dumped at the side of the river.”

Some speculated that the stones’ removal could be part of the New Cumnock flood prevention scheme and that contractors might have moved them to get access in order to install rock armour further along the banks of the Afton, but the Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) has denied this.

Kevin Braidwood, ARA’s head of roads, told the Chronicle: “We have had no involvement with the removal for these stepping stones and no knowledge of who undertook this work.

“It had nothing to do with our flood prevention scheme.”