Dog-friendly walk (as long as you don’t mind them getting very muddy!)
Car parking at The Laird’s Table, Craufurdland Estate (KA3 6BS). Please note that parking is for customers only – the cafe has a takeaway area round the side which is ideal for picking up a coffee and cake or a hot soup after your walk. No public transport to start point. Closest bus stop in on Glasgow Road (Southcraigs), 1.4 miles walk from the start point via Borland.
WALK REPORT: December 2017 (updated January 2022 & January 2023)
Despite being extremely beautiful, Craufurdland woods is one of those places that most people in Kilmarnock have never visited. I myself only walked through it for the first time at the age of 34. It was the ‘private, no unauthorized access’ signs which put me off until then! On further investigation however, I have realised that it is only the through road to the castle which these signs refer to: understandable considering that the castle is a private residence. I have since enjoyed many hours exploring the multitude of footpaths around the woods and have managed to come up with this short route which I believe shows off some of the best parts of the Estate without leading you through any swamps (Craufurdland Muddy Trials is held here annually!)
With the exception of one particularly snowy day, there have always been a handful of fishermen enjoying the tranquillity of the loch when I arrive to park, and I am always careful not to disturb them, particularly when I have the kids with me. Next to the fishery you will find the Laird’s Table Cafe/Restaurant, which is an ideal place to grab lunch or coffee and a cake. There is also a takeaway window if your shoes are too muddy to dare venturing inside!
Once inside the woods, there are loads of little footpaths leading off in all different directions. Small boardwalks take you over the boggiest of areas while other times you come to a huge ditch which forces you to turn back. I once found the Shrek swamp! My friend and I looked in admiration at the long wide trench, imagining participants of the Muddy Trials wading through it probably up to their necks in boggy water! Not for us, we decided at once! On another visit I came to an area of felled trees with a ditch beneath them. The ribbon hanging from the trees made me realise that they had been placed there on purpose and that in fact as part of the race people actually must have to wade through the mud-filled trench beneath the trees, ducking down or maybe swimming through this man-made tunnel! Ooft! Fascinating as these things are to see, you will be pleased to learn that no mud baths, swamp crossings or ditch swims are required to walk this route 😉
One of my favourite sections of the route is along this high-level footpath at the edge of a steep embankment. It follows the course of the Fenwick Water along for a while and the views to the open countryside give the walk a really nice balance.
Do be careful to observe any forestry works signage along the middle part of the route. On all of my recent visits there have been felled trees lying all over the footpath and on one occasion the footpath was actually closed to allow work to take place.
A really varied little walk, and despite being only 1.5 miles long the terrain requires care and so you can expect it to take at least one hour to complete. Longer if you decide to veer off-course to do some exploring of your own!