Walk 60 – Dundonald to Loans Circular via Smuggler’s Trail – 5.6 miles

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This loop takes you through woodlands beneath Dundonald Castle and follows part of the Smuggler’s Trail to reach the village of Loans. It then loops back to the start via the scenic Old Loans Road. This is quite a ‘hilly’ walk but the uphill sections are well worth it for the stunning panoramic views across to the Isle of Arran! Note that there is no pavement on Old Loans Road and it does regularly see traffic passing so care is needed.

  Car parking available at Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre, KA2 9HD. Local bus service stops on B730 just at the entrance to the Visitor Centre car park.

route image Route: Starting at the information board behind Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre,  follow the footpath leading past the play park and into the trees. Turn left at a crossroads and further along when you come to the end of the path turn right, as indicated by the green arrow on the way marker post.  You will come to a muddy section where the path appears to head steeply uphill directly in front. In fact as you approach the hill you will see that there is also a track turning left and this is the one you should follow. You will reach Collennan Reservoir then the trail joins up with a minor road through a cluster of houses and farms before crossing over A78/Troon bypass via a footbridge and onto A759. Turn left here to walk through the centre of Loans. Turn left here to walk through the centre of Loans. When you reach the war memorial turn left onto Main Street which then becomes Old Loans Road. This is another uphill section and there is no pavement so take care but you will be rewarded with fantastic views down into Loans and Troon and also across to the Isle of Arran. At the end of Old Loans Road turn left onto Main Street and left again onto Winehouse Yett which leads you back to the car park at the foot of Dundonald Castle. 

Smugglers Trail, Dundonald-Loans

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WALK REPORT: 26th May 2016

The footpath through the woods was much more up and down than my friend LJ and I had expected, leading to out-of-breath panting trying to have a conversation!  We walk together most weeks but so far this was the first non-flat walk we had been on. A nice change for us both but not one our bodies had been expecting.  Well worth it though.

I loved the section with the reservoir as the views across to Isle of Arran were fantastic, and quite unexpected. It kind of appeared out of nowhere as we emerged from the woods. There were people out fishing at the reservoir, enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine. Unfortunately – as tends to happen around water – we were joined by hundreds of midges for this short section but they were only a pain if we stopped moving, which I did a few times to take photos of course… :-)

The walk follows the start of the Smuggler’s Trail through the ancient Dundonald Woods into Loans.
Walking alongside Collennan Reservoir, a popular spot for members of Troon Angling Club
There is a section of walking along a roadside pavement which isn’t the best but then you enter the pretty village of Loans and all is forgiven.

Old Loans Road is a minor road but more traffic was using it than either of us had expected. One ‘boy racer’ even thought it would be funny to pretend to swerve into us on his way past. Good job we had stopped to let him past and were well in to the side. Idiot…  The first half of the Old Loans Road section was uphill (again!) and as we climbed the views behind just became more and more stunning, especially on an evening like tonight on which we were spoiled with a lovely sunset behind Arran.

View across to Arran from Old Loans Road at sunset

We passed the Highgrove House Hotel on the hillside which just looked amazing. At first we weren’t sure what it was, it looked like a really pretty (huge) house but as we got closer we noticed the restaurant which sits in a modern glass conservatory overlooking the beautiful coastline from high above: definitely a strong contender for the restaurant with the best view in Ayrshire! We agreed we will definitely be trying it out.  We have since heard some really great reviews.

Over the brow of the hill the road wound gently down into Dundonald. As we reached the bottom of the hill Dundonald Castle came into view on the left. I had never seen it from that angle before.

Looking down Old Loans Road towards Dundonald
Almost back in Dundonald. Whitelee Windfarm’s turbines putting on a fine display along the horizon.
Dundonald Castle

I will be returning to do the full Sumggler’s Trail with my mum in the near future, which goes all the way to Troon Beach. I know she will love it especially the scenery. Can’t wait!  LJ and I also agreed that our kids would love the play park in Dundonald and will be back with them to give it a go, wander up to explore the castle and maybe sample the cakes at Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre ;-)

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5 thoughts on “Walk 60 – Dundonald to Loans Circular via Smuggler’s Trail – 5.6 miles

  1. Hi Gillian
    Yeah, I would expect the view to be spectacular on a clear day. It was a little hazy and overcast when we were there – still thoroughly enjoyable though! The 10k is part of the Go! Festival in Ayr on 7th September.


  2. I love this route and especially on a clear spring evening for the Arran sunset views! It is a shame about Old Loans Rd traffic, I tend to find it quieter midweek daytime but I know not everyone has that option. Thanks as always for your comment 😊 Best of luck for the 10k! Where is it and when?


  3. Browsing through your blog, I read that this walk has quite a few climbs – ideal I thought for helping with training for the 10k I’m doing later this year! Whilst the Old Loans Road was busier with traffic than I expected it to be when walking with the kids, the first half of the walk was utterly fantastic. We LOVE a winding forest path and Collennan Reservoir, with it’s majestic views down to Troon was a surprise that seemed to come out of nowhere. We even woke up a sleeping Highland Cow as we walked past a farm. A brilliantly energetic and scenic walk!


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