Walk 78 – Kilmarnock North/Rowallan – 5.8 miles

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This walk takes you out into the countryside between Kilmarnock and Kilmaurs with an optional de-tour into the peaceful and scenic Rowallan Estate. The route is mostly along minor roads with no pavements so care is required.

  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.

Kilmarnock North

WALK REPORT: 18th July 2016

My mum, friend LJ and I chose this route last minute one Monday evening in July. It turned out to be quite an adventure with some hairy parts caused by blind bends on the minor roads and a run-in with a local inside Rowallan Estate…..

The walk starts on Glasgow Road at a large parking area once occupied by the now demolished Howard Park Hotel. Once upon a time I used to take the bus to Glasgow from here and was amazed to see how the land around the car park had become so overgrown, particularly the grass between the car park and the pavement of Glasgow Road. The grass was super long with small footpaths having been trodden through it in several places by people (like us) using it as a shortcut.

Once on the back road to Kilmaurs I was keen to attempt a visit to Northcraig Reservoir which I had seen on my map just off to the left and had memories of spending time at as a kid. I remembered being able to access it from a farm road beside Wardneuk estate and seeing people fishing there.  There was a slightly overgrown road which lead us in it’s direction but unfortunately just as it came into arms reach (according to my map, as we still couldn’t see it!) the road came to an abrupt end at two locked gates separated by a wide open area of overgrown grass, nettles and the like and a mound of grassy earth blocking the view to what lay beyond. So that was the end of that – none of us fancied climbing over gates and clambering through nettles to have a glimpse of the reservoir. That can be for another day 😉 On the plus side we passed this impressively-sized bunch of thistles growing at the roadside!

I mentioned a run-in with a man in Rowallan Estate….. After walking along the minor road then onto the busier B751 it was a welcome relief to have a stroll along the tree-lined road of the peaceful Rowallan estate: we admired the beautiful old buildings, the golf course, and the new homes (mansions!) 

We reached The Glasshouse Restaurant after what seemed like much further than it had when I came by car, and a quick look around told us that it was closed tonight. We hadn’t ever intended to go in anyway but it was nice to show LJ where it was and what it looked like as she had never been before. As we were leaving, a middle-aged guy pulled up in a flashy car and called over to us asking where we were from. I could tell from his tone and manner that he wasn’t asking to be nice. He proceeded to tell us this was private land and that the restaurant is closed on a Monday. I could hardly believe what I was hearing!! There are private houses and a public restaurant within the grounds and no signage giving any indication that walkers were prohibited!  We certainly weren’t causing any trouble, quite the opposite: we were in total admiration of the place.

As I walked away from him in disgust he shouted at me not to walk on the golf course!! Why he thought I might want to do that I have no idea! It really put a dampener on an otherwise enjoyable wander through the estate.   To make matters worse he followed us in his car and waited at the exit as though to make sure we definitely left! Some people have obviously nothing better to do with their time….

Photos from within Rowallan Estate…


Once my rage cooled a little the rest of the walk became enjoyable once more and the orange glow of the setting sun did lots to help with that. Walking along B751 we really got an impression of the scale of Rowallan Castle Golf Course which seemed to stretch out for miles beyond where we had walked. It was on this section of the walk where things felt slightly dangerous as it can be busy with traffic and we couldn’t always see around the bends in the road. It wasn’t long before we reached our turning point to the left which would lead us back into Kilmarnock and this minor road was much quieter letting us relax again.

The view across the open countryside towards the end of the walk

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