Walk 149 – Irvine & Kilwinning New Town Trail – 12 miles

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An entirely flat 12 mile circular route makes for easy walking and feels surprisingly rural, often accompanied by either the Lugton Water, Annick Water or the River Irvine. The New Town Trail was developed by North Ayrshire Council to link Irvine town centre, outlying residential areas, Kilwinning and Eglinton Country Park giving local people and visitors an alternative to travelling by car. Sights to look forward to include Eglinton Castle, the Cairnmount Hill standing stones, Sourlie Woods and Garnock Floods Wildlife Reserves, Robert Burns statue, plenty of bridges, and if you do it in summer, apple trees and wild flowers galore! Possibly the most difficult trail I have had to navigate so far, I would suggest not relying solely on the way-markers which I found to be confusing, missing or hidden at times!

TERRAIN: Half of the route follows the NCN73 cycle path whilst the remainder is along a mixture of earth tracks, surfaced footpaths and urban areas.

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  The easiest way to travel to Eglinton Country Park is by car. There is plenty of free parking onsite. If using public transport the closest train station is in Kilwinning, 2 miles away. From there it is possible to cycle (approx 10 mins) or walk (approx 40 mins) or take a bus to Irvine Road/A737 to Eglinton Country Park. From the bus stop the start point is approx half a mile /15 minutes away on foot. If travelling by public transport you could choose to start the route at a different point. For example Irvine train station is approx 500m from the closest entry point to the walk at the Rivergate Centre and there are bus stops in some of the outlying residential areas which this route passes through (eg Bourtreehill or Dreghorn). Much of the route is on the NCN73 cycle path, making connections to/from Glasgow and Kilmarnock possible by bike.

Download the official New Town Trail leaflet from the North Ayrshire Council website

WALK REPORT: 30th July 2017

I first noticed signage for the Irvine & Kilwinning New Town Trail on a visit to Eglinton Country Park and naturally I was keen to check it out! I had heard from a couple of people that navigating it was tricky and I knew friends who had set out to do the entire trail and ended up walking round in circles. Up for a challenge, I knew that if anyone could crack it, it was me!

Eve was one of said friends and it seemed only polite that I should invite her along on my trail of discovery. Off we set, armed with my trusty navigation app complete with pre-loaded route which I had pieced together using the Ayrshire Paths website. The beauty of this app is that you can see in an instant if you have taken a wrong turn. The pre-loaded route is shown in one colour, and your own route in another. If they don’t match, you’ve made a mistake! There is also a handy arrow which points in the direction you are supposed to be walking and flashes red if you aren’t on track. Foolproof, right?! Well, yes, assuming you check your position regularly. Even with the use of my app we still managed to go the wrong way a few times. This was no fault of the app, it was simply a case of us plodding along assuming we were going the right way and eventually I would check the map and realise we had been supposed to turn off somewhere half a mile back. Moral of the story…. way markers alone will not guide you to complete this loop! My personal recommendation is to download the free route I have plotted out for you and follow it, regularly checking that you are on track.

Eglinton Country Park is amazing, one of my favourites in Ayrshire. I found it a shame that the route missed out some interesting areas of the park, most importantly the castle. You could easily walk along and not know it was there at all. I had been before so knew that it was nestled behind the trees and sneaked off-route to take a quick snap.


The trail was alive with colour and full of life: wildflowers lined the paths, teeming with bees going about their work. At one point an unspoken competition began between Eve and I, to see who could take the best ‘bee on a flower’ photo. My entry is below…. 😉 Whilst walking along the cycle track between Towns Moor and the B779, we passed some apple trees. I was simply awestruck by the sheer volume of apples on them, just incredible. It was like nothing I had ever seen in my life before. There is a photo below but I am not even sure that it accurately reflects the abundance of fruit that was present… A lot of them were green and so blended in well with the foliage. If you zoom in you may be able to see what I mean. I pondered for a moment the incredible journey these apples would have come on from their humble beginnings as buds and the growth period to become fully fledged and delicious-looking pieces of fruit. What a shame that most of them must just fall on the ground and rot :-/ My apple tree knowledge is limited but if these are edible then I’ll be back next year with some carrier bags!

‘Bee on a flower’ contest 😉
Huge yield of apples!

The short sections through residential areas didn’t appeal to me so much, but I do tend to prefer walking ‘off-the-beaten-track’. In fact, one of the biggest boo-boos Eve and I made was missing a turn-off in Bourtreehill and we ended up spending a while trying to find a way through the maze of houses back onto the trail. We agreed that we were glad we weren’t there alone! Urban proved that it can also be fun though, when we stopped to admire this wall art beneath the Riverside Shopping Centre. Certainly brightened up a dull area!


A highlight of the walk for me was unexpectedly coming across the standing stones on Cairnmount Hill. It was a short de-tour from the main path but well worth it for the views across Dalry Moor!

River Irvine
Looking along the River Irvine towards the railway viaduct
Footbridge across to Irvine’s Low Green

In summary, the Irvine & Kilwinning New Town Trail was easy-going, flat and had a surprise around every corner. Navigating it required considerable concentration and an electronic map with GPS but this made conquering it all the more rewarding! Lots of lovely views along the trail as well as some hidden gems just off-route. Although we didn’t enjoy the residential sections, they were short and sweet so didn’t dampen the enjoyment of the walk as a whole.

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