There is another option for this walk which misses out the field crossing and stiles, instead following the Grassyards Road to Bringan Ford. It is slightly longer but easier.
TERRAIN: A mix of roadside pavements, quiet country roads, muddy woodland trails and some potentially more challenging terrain across the fields depending on whether or not they are in crop when you visit. Several well-maintained stiles to cross and some steps. Walk is mostly on the level with no steep hills.
Car parking available next to the Tesco store, Glasgow Rd, Kilmarnock (KA3 1UT). Rather than using the supermarket car park, use the area beside the row of shops/takeaways, close to the Glasgow Road/B7038. Closest train station is in Kilmarnock, 1.5 miles away. Local bus service from Kilmarnock town centre and buses to/from Glasgow stop on Glasgow Road, at the start of the walking route.
WALK REPORT: 17th April 2016 and 8th February 2023
I wanted to go a quick walk this morning before a kiddies birthday party late afternoon and I was super happy when Nathan asked to come with me! I chose to check out this walk into Craufurdland Estate for a few reasons: I’d never been out that way before, I was taking a walking group there in a few days and wanted to be sure of the route, it’s muddiness and so on, and I knew it was close enough to home and short enough that Nathan would manage it.
He couldn’t come along without his beloved meerkat teddy of course! Meerkat started off being carried as normal but when it started to drizzle he could be found inside Nathan’s jacket with only his little head peeking out the top of the zip. Later, Nathan felt that maybe meerkat was cold and so he took his woolly hat off and snuggled him up inside his “sleeping bag”, again with it’s head peeking out. He cuddled him close to his body with one arm whilst holding my hand with the other. He made sure to hold meerkat up and show him the view out over the A77 when we crossed the bridge, and we had to take turns helping him over the various stiles we came to. It was so sweet watching him “look after” his teddy in the same way that I was looking after him.
The drawback to having a 4 year old with you is lack of speed: we averaged 1.5 mph on this walk and so it took almost 4 hours to walk 4.5 miles…. but who’s counting??! We both enjoyed ourselves and that’s the main thing. We also made it home in time for the party = bonus!
A highlight for Nathan was seeing a ford for the first time! We were very fortunate to also witness a car driving through it, which helped answer many of the questions he was putting forward…“Do cars sometimes drown when they try to cross the Ford?… Why can cars not drown?…” Other questions asked today included “Why do Christmas trees die when you chop them down?… Why do dandelions close when you pick them?… Why is it dark in the forest?…….”
Over the next few years I did this walk a number of times and started to notice the stiles deteriorate to the point that they were becoming quite dangerous. A real shame I thought. Then a Facebook post in a local Ramblers group caught my attention – they were planning a walk here and in their route info they described the stiles as “well-maintained”. Hmmm…. I’d have to go and see!
So in February 2023 I did just that and was delighted to find that the stiles in excellent condition – they looked to have been completely rebuilt and even had anti-slip grips on them. Not only that, but to my surprise where the first stile had been was now a very fancy-looking double stile – one at either side of the fence. A little blue disc on one of the posts told me all I needed to know: “K & L Ramblers. 2020. 30th Anniversary”. Ah ha! The good old Ramblers had been here during lockdown and saved the day!
I had always crossed the stile into the field though, and had intended on doing the same today. But now I had choices! If you know me at all you’ll already have guessed that curiosity got the better of me and I just HAD to explore the route over the right-hand stile.
What I found was delightful! There wasn’t a huge amount by way of a path to follow, and there wasn’t one on my map either. I did wonder at times if I was on deer or sheep tracks…. but I followed them regardless and soon found myself down by the Craufurdland Water. How peaceful it was! Much better than field-hopping: I had always done my best to stick to the field edges when they were in crop, but depending on how much space the farmer had left, it could be quite hard-going. And all that time there was this riverside option I knew nothing about!
I have since found out that people have enjoyed the walk along the riverside for many years, before the route was diverted across the fields. This was one of the reasons that Kilmarnock & Loudoun Ramblers wanted to preserve it. In order to mark the occasion of their 30th anniversary, they made contact with the farmer and the owners of the Craufurdland Estate who were both supportive of the idea to upgrade the stiles to give continued access to the river without people causing damage to the fence. East Ayrshire Council also provided the non-slip strips for the stile steps. So a huge thank you from me to all of those people for having the initiative, providing the funding and carrying out the work involved.
After a stroll along the river the trail I was following started to curve in towards the bottom of the embankment which leads up to the fields. Following it, I wasn’t too sure where to go next but I had noted barbed wire along the top of the fence so had a suspicion that if I kept walking with the fields just to my left I would eventually end up at one of the later stiles along the field-route. I made my way up the embankment and picked my route through the trees hoping for the best.
I was right, and it was another belter of a stile! Being at the corner of two fences, it had been built to take walkers over both fences in one go. Very clever.
I knew where I was from here: only two fields to cross/ go around instead of five. My mum had chosen to walk along Grassyards Road to avoid the fields, and we were meeting at the Bringan Ford. With ridiculously perfect timing, we met up as planned and I excitedly explained the adventure I’d just been on.