Ayrshire Coastal Path: Maidens – Culzean – Dunure (7 miles)

This is an easy walk between the harbours of Maidens and Dunure. Terrain includes firm sandy beaches, woodland earth paths and grassy farm tracks. Enjoy the clifftop views of the more rugged sections of coastline around Culzean Castle & Country Park and the fields just south of Dunure. You will even pass directly in front of the incredible 18th century Culzean Castle, as well as the remains of Dunure Castle – which dates back as far as the 1200s! 

**IT IS IMPORTANT TO CHECK TIDE TIMES BEFORE SETTING OFF ON THIS WALK**

ACPlogo Click HERE to purchase the official Ayrshire Coastal Path Guide Book

Maidens to Dunure

viewranger-logo-new-jan-2017  Download the route to your mobile phone HERE (Viewranger app required)

parking-available-icon  Car park at Maidens Harbour

route-image  Route: Start at the car park at Maidens Harbour. Cross the football park towards a footbridge over the burn then drop down onto the sandy beach of Maidenhead Bay. At the very end of the beach use the boardwalk to climb uphill into Culzean Castle & Country Park. Follow the earth footpath left and around the clifftops. On reaching the swan pond turn left and follow signs for the Cliff Walk. The footpath leads you back uphill through pleasant woodland to emerge beside Culzean Castle. Pass the castle then descend beneath the impressive stone entrance-way on a footpath, following signage for the Gas House at the bottom of the hill. On reaching the Gas House go down onto the sandy beach. Follow Culzean Bay as it sweeps past Croyburnfoot Caravan Park. A further 0.5 miles along from the caravan park look out for an ACP way-marker on the right. The grassy footpath leads you uphill and across several fields before beginning a descent into the village of Dunure. Follow the track through Kennedy Park, past the remains of Dunure Castle and onward to the harbour where this walk ends.

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Set within almost 600 acres of countryside, Culzean Castle is the former home of the chief of Clan Kennedy. It is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
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Having been a ruin for at least the past 300 years, Dunure Castle was once the main fortress of the Kennedy family . The route of this walk passes directly in front of it and it is even possible to take a peek inside 🙂

 

WALK REVIEW: 10TH APRIL 2017 

The Maidens Harbour to Culzean Castle section took me just over one hour to walk. From there it was just over 2 hours into Dunure.

I decided to do a slight variation from the official route into Culzean Castle & Country Park. From what I understand you are supposed to come off Maidenhead Bay at Hogston Burn where the caravan park ends and walk all the way along ‘Long Avenue’ until the swan pond. Having walked that road many many times in the past it did not appeal to me today (too long and straight and pretty uninteresting). I knew that if I walked to the other end of the bay there was a boardwalk which would lead me to the cliff walk. Far more exciting! It is a beautiful woodland walk and thanks to it’s elevated position I was rewarded with stunning views across the glimmering silver water to the Ailsa Craig. I tend to favour less populated routes, and with today being a sunny bank holiday weekend I knew that the ‘easier’ trails would be busy. Another reason for choosing the cliff walk.

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View looking north from the Cliff Walk within Culzean Castle & Country Park

Despite countless visits to Culzean as a child I can’t ever remember walking on the beach north of the castle, so I was really looking forward to it. I had it pretty much to myself this day and wandered along taking time to enjoy the views.  Culzean Castle looked even more grand from this angle, perched on top of the cliff at the end of the bay. Stopping to take a few photos I suddenly realised that my sunglasses were no longer hooked onto my t-shirt collar. My Ray-Bans! I knew they had been there when I came down onto this beach at the Gas House because I distinctly remembered patting my chest to check and thinking to myself that I would be best to move them from there before they fell…… I paced that beach back and forth at least four times and could not find them 😦 I was gutted! Have you ever tried to re-trace your steps on a soft sandy beach?? It is pretty difficult! Lesson learned….

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Culzean Bay where, somewhere in the sand, there is a perfectly good pair of Ray-Bans to be found!
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After passing over the rocky outcrop at the end of the bay, Croyburnfoot caravan park came into view. It looked super far away! It didn’t take long though thanks to the firm sand.
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Can you spot the way-marker?? Approx half a mile along from the caravan park the route headed slightly inland to miss out a more rugged section of coastline which would have been difficult to walk over even in the low tide conditions I had today. I loved the variation in terrain and view though! It seemed to come just at the right time: I was walking the entire Ayrshire Coastal Path for the Mark McCloskey Foundation so this was just one part of a 25 mile hike which had started 16 miles back in Girvan! By this point I’d had enough of sandy beaches and welcomed the zig zagging grassy path onto higher ground.
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View from the high path, looking back. Ailsa Craig visible to the right.

The next section was across a series of fields, all of which were empty on my visit but can be home to various forms of livestock. Again, the views were just spectacular from up there and I really got a sense of how vast an area this was and just how remote and rugged the coast is. I also pondered how lucky the farmers here were to have THAT view at their work!!

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The fishing village of Dunure ahead, it’s small harbour marking the end of this route.

If you have time I highly recommend visiting Dunure Castle whilst in the area.  You will find information boards explaining some of the history of the building, and a special staircase inside it allows visitors to climb to the upper floor and take in the stunning coastal views. The village also has it’s very own labyrinth and public toilets are available in Kennedy Park (seasonal). Car parking is available either at the harbour (free) or in Kennedy Park (chargeable).

 

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