Walk 23 – River Ayr Way (Mainholm Smallholdings to Auchincruive) – 4.5 miles

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This walk is part of River Ayr Way and takes you from A77 Ayr by-pass along to Oswald’s Bridge where you will see the Wallace Burns Cairn. You can either return via the same route (4.5 miles in total) or add an extra section along the banks of the River Ayr (adds 1 mile extra). It is a lovely peaceful, countryside walk – you wouldn’t know you are so close to the Ayr by-pass.

buggy friendly image  Buggy-friendly walk if follow route option 1 (see below)

  Small place to park just off A77 – follow signs for Mainholm Smallholdings (KA6 5HD).

black icon of a figure walking, a zig zag line with arrow on one end and a location pin on the other end Route: From the parking area follow the road through Mainholm Smallholdings, a series of pretty farm houses. The road turns into a track for a short distance and leads you along to a signpost directing you to turn right for Oswald’s Bridge. From here you can see the Scottish Agricultural College across the farmland. Enjoy the views down to the River Ayr from the bridge and once across it you will see the Wallace Burns Cairn sitting up on a mound off to the right. Return to Oswald’s Bridge. [If doing the additional walk along the river, look for a narrow set of steps on your left as you come back towards Oswald’s Bridge from the Burns Cairn. Go down the steps – the river should be on your right-hand side. Follow the path along as far as you can (in our case this was until we reached a stile into farmland approx half a mile along) then retrace your steps back to Oswald’s bridge. It is a worthwhile addition if you have the time, otherwise this section of the River Ayr Way will be distinctly lacking any sign of the river]. Cross back over Oswald’s Bridge and retrace your steps back to the start.

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WALK REPORT: 21st March 2016

If you are a horse-lover you will enjoy the first section of the walk through Mainholm Smallholdings: I lost count how many we passed along the way!
View from Oswald’s Bridge
Looking up to the Wallace Burns Cairn from the roadside. There is a beautiful gate at it’s entrance with a plaque indicating that it was gifted by the Calgary Burns Club! I didn’t know of this cairn before stumbling across it today and was intrigued to find out more once I got home. I found this document online which gives a very interesting history, not only of the cairn itself but of the local area too.

My personal experience of it is this walk is unfortunately somewhat tarnished by the fact that at this point my mum and I in our great wisdom attempted to take the buggy down the optional part along the River Ayr. The result was us carrying a ton weight (complete with an almost-3-year-old) down steps, bumping it over a narrow track and pushing it through thick muddy tractor tracks. We got all the way to the end of the track before we finally admitted defeat in front of a stile (!!) leading off onto a field with grazing lambs. I won’t deny that I was gutted to realise the path ended here and we were going to have to go through all of that again to get back to a road! However…. every cloud has a silver lining and I got some lovely photos of Oswald’s Bridge from the path and satisfied my curiosity as to where it leads.

Optional path from the bridge along the river side

I plan to return soon to do the next section of the River Ayr Way from here to Annbank, which looks like it will be a really nice walk through some woodland, staying right beside the banks of the river most of the way. There is a car park off the road leading to Oswald’s Bridge specifically for use by people following the trails around Auchincruive which will make an excellent place for me to start from.

To read my other River Ayr Way walk reports click HERE

If you’ve benefited from the information available on this website, consider supporting my work by becoming a Patreon and receiving exclusive benefits. Find out more on my Patreon page.

6 thoughts on “Walk 23 – River Ayr Way (Mainholm Smallholdings to Auchincruive) – 4.5 miles

  1. Hi Gillian. Having jogged along this path recently, I decided to take the kids and my father in law along. (He’s from Ayr and loved it as he hadn’t walked along what he called “tomato lane” for over 50 years!) We did this slightly differently, parking at the car park at the Auchincruive end then walking to the A77 and back. This is ideal if you want a nice gentle paved walk without too much traffic. This is also a good one for animal lovers -lots of horses, as you mentioned, a field of friendly and inquisitive calves, a deer, some pheasants and even a hairy caterpillar all delighted the kids. It really is amazing how many walks are literally on your doorstep. Hopefully the good weather will start soon and we can get back out regularly!


    1. Ooh why Tomato Lane, did he say? I love the idea of starting from Auchincruive and I’m thinking I might actually note this one as an option with the kids during the holidays. My youngest loves horses!


  2. Hi its called tomato lane because most of the smallholdings were tomato growers and or flower growers back in the 50s and 60s. I had a friend at Ayr Academy (in the 60s) whose parents ran McGawn Nursery where they grew tomatoes and flowers if i remember correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

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