Walk 63 – Caprington Castle via Earlston, Kilmarnock – 4 miles

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The grand 15th century Caprington Castle, a category “A” listed building which is still occupied

This is a really pleasant walk on the outskirts of Kilmarnock. After crossing Caprington Golf Course past the historical ruin of Blackskye Tower you will follow a former railway track bed across a field to reach the small hamlet of Earlston. The next stop is Caprington Castle and surrounding woodlands finishing with a wander through the residential part of Caprington.

  There is a car park at Caprington Golf Club, Ayr Road, Kilmarnock (KA1 4UW) however PLEASE AVOID USING THE CAR PARK IF IT IS BUSY. There is plenty of on-street parking available in the adjoining Caprington residential area, a short walk from the start of the route. It is also easily accessible by public transport with bus stops on the Ayr Road.

route image  Route: Leave Caprington Golf Club car park towards the main entrance and turn right (South West) onto B7038/Ayr Road. Just before reaching Dewaldens Garden Centre look out for a lane on the right leading on to Caprington Golf Course. Go down the lane (North West). Cross the golf course using the grassy footpath straight ahead, picking up a track between two hedgerows. Along this track you will pass the remains of Blackskye Tower. Continue ahead (West) for another 200m to reach a fence with a stile leading onto a field. Cross the stile and follow the row of hedges on your right-hand side across the field, emerging onto a minor road. Turn right (North West) to walk through the small hamlet of Earlston. 800m along the road you will reach a crossroads. Turn right (East) to walk towards a gated entrance into Caprington Woods. After going through the gate continue straight ahead (East) along a tree-lined driveway. Caprington Castle will soon come into view. In front of the castle you will be at another crossroads where you turn right (South East) to cross Todrigs Burn and follow road/track through the trees. Stay on this road for 1km. There will be a field on your left-hand side and at the end of the field the road bends to the left before arriving at a bridge over the River Irvine. You are not going to cross the bridge; instead look for a (often very muddy) path heading off to the right (East) alongside the river. Follow this, with the river on your left-hand side. After 500m the path turns right to run parallel to the A71 along a pleasant pathway, emerging onto the corner of Maxholm Road/Fleming Street another 500m along. Turn right (South) to walk along Maxholm Road. At the end of the street cross over Stonyhill Avenue then turn right (West). Almost immediately turn left (South) onto a lane which leads to Scargie Road. At the end of Scargie Road cross over Cunningham Drive and pick up a lane at the other side which leads to Inchgotrick Road. Turn right (South West) and walk to the end of Inchgotrick Road. Turn right (North West) to a lane which leads to Caprington Golf Club car park.


WALK REVIEW

In order to publish this route I ended up having to do it twice and almost 3 months passed between each trip. The first time I was with my mum and friend LJ and there were a couple of concerns I had with that route, namely a busy B road with no pavement which wasn’t enjoyable and us getting lost on a  minor road inside Caprington Estate which suddenly ended at a large house despite the map showing it as a through-road. The owner came out and showed us through his garden onto what looked like an overgrown field and pointed out where to cross into the woods. Neither of these sections were ideal when it came to publishing a walk other people might like to try so I wanted to return another day to find a way of avoiding them.

Do you fancy going a wee walk?” asked my husband one child-free afternoon 12 weeks later. “I would love to” was my reply and I immediately thought about my unfinished Caprington Castle walk which was within walking distance from our home. Turns out we do not go by the same definition of ‘a short walk’: my husband was thinking of a 20 minute stroll, not the 4 mile walk complete with route tracking and photography that he got! Oops…..

The walk across the golf course is really interesting, and it isn’t long before you feel as though you are far from the town out in the open countryside. The path is wide and grassy and you pass some ruins along the way. It wasn’t until years later and having passed these ruins probably a hundred times that I finally did a bit of research into them. It turns out it is a building of national significance! Named Blackskye Tower, it was an engine house built during the times of the Caprington coal mines. Seemingly it is a rare example of it’s type in the UK. Fascinating!

Enjoy my photo tour of the route below.

Blackskye Tower
The path across the golf course is lined by hedgerows on either side.
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When you get to this tree there is a notice on the gate which advises against crossing the field between June-Sept due to potential dangers caused by cattle protecting their young. If you don’t wish to take the risk you can retrace your steps to Blackskye Tower and turn right to reach a different path across the golf course which heads between 2 hedgerows and along a row of trees, emerging out onto the minor road further south (extends the walk a little)
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Crossing the style into the field, this is the path you follow. It looks fine in this picture but it can be pretty muddy in places! It is the track bed of the former wagonway which transported the coal to the Kilmarnock-Troon railway.
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Gatehouse at the castle entrance
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Beautiful woodland walk once inside Caprington Estate
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The woodland opens up at one section. This photo looks back on the track you will walk along. The field is empty most of the time, with a fine view through the trees back to the castle.
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River Irvine as seen from the bridge.
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Looking back from the muddy footpath to the bridge across the river Irvine. On this visit the river was very swollen and I was amazed at the speed of the current! You get a good idea of how muddy this path can get in winter!
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A different type of woodland now, less frequented than the other paths in the Estate, most likely thanks to the mud!
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Footpath leading out of the woods and onto Maxholm Road. Unfortunately a lot of litter around :-( I have however spotted deer and foxes in the open grassland to the right of this path before, so keep your eyes peeled! If you are walking in the evening you are very likely to see lots of rabbits.

6 thoughts on “Walk 63 – Caprington Castle via Earlston, Kilmarnock – 4 miles

    1. How exciting Cate! As you will have seen from my post and photo, the gatehouse is very much still there if a tad overgrown but it will amazing for you to visit it in May. There should be lots of bluebells around the woods at that time of year too :-)

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  1. Did this walk this morning, very muddy at the start but an excellent trail. At the castle I cut up to the right and followed a snowdrop lined path that brought me to a crossroads. Right to the golf course and left to the castle. We went to the castle and rejoined the route.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi James really glad you enjoyed this one! There are so many little trails in the woods to discover, I keep finding new ones! Mud – yes. A day earlier and you’d have got it dry 🤣

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