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

This loop takes you through woodland along the Smuggler’s Trail between Dundonald Castle and Loans before cutting off through the village of Loans and looping back to the start via the scenic Old Loans Road.  This is quite a ‘hilly’ walk rather than being flat but the uphill sections are well worth it for the stunning panoramic views across to Isle of Arran! 

parking available icon  Car parking available at Dundonald Castle, KA2 9HD

viewranger image  Click HERE to view or follow a map of the route

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 a 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. 

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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… 🙂

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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.

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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.

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I will be returning to do the rest of the Sumggler’s Trail with my mum in the near future, 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 the visitor centre 😉

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