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.

Smugglers Trail, Dundonald-Loans

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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