Loudoun Hill, Ayrshire

At just 361m elevation, the volcanic plug of Loudoun Hill near Darvel, East Ayrshire is where Robert the Bruce had his first major military victory.  It is reputed that in 1307 he led an army against the English in a battle which took place beneath the hill.  Despite being small, it’s steep slopes certainly pack a punch and on a clear day the views from the top make it a must-do in the area. A favourite with children and adults alike! There are two route options that I know of and both are described below. 

Loudoun Hill from Dykehead Farm – 0.8 miles

Shorter but more challenging route involving climbing a dry stone wall and fencing

Loudoun Hill from Dykehead Farm

viewranger-logo-new-jan-2017    Download the route to your mobile phone HERE (Viewranger app required)

parking available icon  Parking available at base of hill just past Dykehead Farm (KA17 0LU)

route image  Route: From the car park return to the minor road and looking left you will see a blue way marker pointing across some farmland towards Loudoun Hill. Cross the stile into the field and head straight across to the fence at the other side – look out for another stile marked by a tall wooden post with the remains of a white plastic sign on top. From here again head straight across the field to the fence and boundary wall – from what I could see there are no set places to cross these so it’s just a free-for-all. You will join a narrow earth path which leads around the base of the hill a short distance. Look out for a (very) vague grassy path leading up the steep slope of Loudoun Hill. It soon flattens out for the final walk up to the summit,  marked by a trig point. Return same way.

 

Loudoun Hill from Spirit of Scotland Monument – 1.2 miles

Longer but easier route  

Loudoun Hill from Spirit of Scotland

viewranger-logo-new-jan-2017  Download the route to your mobile phone HERE (Viewranger app required)

parking-available-icon  Small car park along a single track road signposted from A71 ‘Spirit of Scotland Monument / Loudoun Hill parking’ (KA17 0LY)

route-image  Route:  Exit the parking area via a wooden gate, signposted Spirit of Scotland. Follow the track downhill past the Spirit of Scotland Monument to cross a stile and a footbridge over the River Irvine. Follow a grassy path as it zig zags uphill, emerging onto a flat area of grass and then a wide farm track. Cross over the farm track and follow the dry stone wall as it heads uphill and around the base of Loudoun Hill. It will lead you into some trees, then past a stone ruin before joining a narrow earth path which continues around the base of the hill.  Approximately halfway round look out for a (very) vague grassy path leading up the steep slope of Loudoun Hill. It soon flattens out for the final walk up to the summit,  marked by a trig point. Return same way.

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On a clear day from the Trig Point you can see right down the Irvine Valley and across to the Isle of Arran 

 

WALK REPORT

I recently climbed Loudoun Hill when I walked in from Darvel via the old railway. Since then I vowed to bring the kids, mainly to suss out how able they were and also whether they enjoyed it or not. I figured that if they could manage this hill’s steep slope without complaining then I was onto a winner! I knew it was a short walk in terms of distance (less than a mile to the top and back) so a perfect first hill walk for my then 4 and 2 year olds 🙂

Boys…. Do you fancy walking up a hill with mummy today?” You would have thought I’d told them it was Christmas Eve! “Yeah yeah yeah! Can we go now?!” I was relieved at their initial reaction. Off we went. I honestly wasn’t sure how it would go: my youngest was used to my walking antics and had confidently and happily climbed up the short steep hill to Greenan Castle with me recently so I felt pretty sure he was ready for more of the same. My eldest can walk for miles but generally gets bored pretty quickly and is a bit of a scaredy cat so I had visions of him wanting to hold my hand and whimpering in fear for most of the way.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! My eldest shot off like Spiderman up the hill absolutely in his element and it was the younger of the two who wanted my hand. In fairness he was only wearing wellies which I believe set him back a little: we had rushed out to buy them both hiking boots that morning but we only managed to find a fit for one. Overall I was delighted with how they both did and was super happy at how much they were enjoying the experience. “Mummy look at the views!“, “Mummy I love this!”, “Mummy look how fast I can climb up!” Near the top we met a group of people coming back down and they commented on how well the kids were doing: “Look at the size of these kids coming up“, one said, “If they can do it then I really need to get a grip!”. Nathan even fell a few times on the way down and (very unlike him) didn’t cry. I long for the day when we can go on hiking trips as a family and this ‘test’ run and first ever hill walk with the kids couldn’t have gone any smoother.

Since that day I have returned several times with them at different times of the year and tried out both routes. The two most memorable climbs definitely include the frosty December morning I took Thomas – age 3 – before nursery, and the after school jaunt we did in the summer with another family.  It is always a winner 🙂

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Spirit of Scotland Monument with Loudoun Hill looking very inviting behind it. 
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When you are 3 everything is a toy 🙂
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The ascent ‘path’ isn’t very clear and there are many ways to get to the top. This however is my preferred route of choice should you wish to copy!
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Almost there!
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A snow-capped Isle of Arran can be seen in the distance 
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Looking across the frosty fields towards Whitelee Windfarm

If you fancy trying this but would prefer a longer walk then check out this one which starts in Darvel and follows a very attractive disused railway all the way to the base of Loudoun Hill. One of my favourites!

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