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A brilliant day out for the whole family! Although the walk itself is short at just over a mile and a half, there is so much to see and do at Dumfries House that you can easily spend several hours. Take a picnic or make the most of the onsite cafe. Highlights include the Engineering Centre, large kids play area, arboretum, 5 acre walled garden, maze and the stunning Dumfries House itself. Look out for all the quirky features around the Estate that make it truly unique!
Buggy-friendly walk. There is a set of stairs up onto the Chinese Bridge and down the other side however this section is avoidable without adding extra distance to the walk. See route info below for details.
Car Park within Dumfries House estate (KA18 2NJ). No public transport to start point.
Route: Exit the car park and turn left. Walk along the roadside for a short distance until you reach a way marker pointing left towards the Engineering Centre. Turn left here downhill and when you are finished exploring this area turn right past the buildings to emerge at a footbridge crossing a small burn and back out onto the road. Turn left and after crossing The Avenue Bridge turn left again to enter the Arboretum. Take the first track on your right towards a pond with a water feature in it then continue straight on along the edge of the trees until you reach the entrance to the walled garden. Take some time to explore it then exit from the same place, turning right into a long tree-lined track. You will come to the Chinese Bridge on your right. Cross the bridge then follow the track left to emerge back out onto the road you were on earlier. (Note: if you have a pram/buggy with you then to avoid these stairs simply continue straight on rather than crossing the bridge. This brings you out just a little further along the road.) Turn right, take some time to explore the maze if you wish then where the road forks take the earth track to the left which leads through the trees to the play area. When finished here leave by walking through the outdoor terrace of the Coach House Café (there are a few steps here). Turn left then left again to go gently uphill towards Dumfries House. Follow the main road away from the House and where it forks turn right to return to the car park.
WALK REPORT: 10th October 2016
I had only been to Dumfries House once in the past, and that was purely thanks to my 5 year old son’s excited account of his morning spent there on a trip with nursery. Sure, I had heard of the place but I had never researched it and much to my embarrassment assumed that it was just a (beautiful) old mansion house which people booked for lavish weddings and wouldn’t be of much interest to us for a day out. How wrong could I have been! There is SO much to do there.
The Engineering Centre is amazing and super educational. It can be wet and muddy so take wellies for this part! Always busy, I struggled to get photos without people in them but here are a few to give you a small insight into what’s there… Any time I mention Dumfries House to my kids this is what they remember!
It is easy to navigate your way around the estate thanks to the bright red signage and the whole place is very well-maintained.
The walk over the bridge and through the Arboretum is very peaceful and there are quirky features all over the place to admire. I look forward to returning in the years to come to watch how the trees of the Arboretum grow and change the outlook of this area.
The next port of call is the stunning Walled Garden. By far one of the best I have ever visited! It was so nice to see the space being used properly. While we were there a member of staff was harvesting some potatoes and he was kind enough to give the boys one each when we were passing. I believe it is really important for kids to understand and witness where our food comes from so I was over the moon to discover the variety of veggies growing there. Not to mention the display of colour from the early autumn blooms!
Leaving the Walled Garden behind, the walk along to the Chinese Bridge is quite spectacular and I couldn’t help but take a photo of the tree-lined passage.
Next port of call was the maze. For £1 per child you can wander around it to try and find the centre. I remember being the only adult on our first visit and I found it difficult keeping track of the two kids when they ran off in opposite directions. This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the pond in the middle which I did not know about at first but which made me freak out somewhat when I came across it and realised that either of my little ones could easily fall in. I then became a paranoid mother and ordered them both to stay close to me. Boring 😉 With my husband there too this time it was much easier. I did notice some parents waiting at the entrance gates just in case any of their cherubs tried to wander back out on their own. Who knew a maze could be so stressful?!