Walk 165 – Craufurdland Woodland Trail, Kilmarnock – 1.6 miles

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My children walking through Craufurdlland Woods in winter

There is something mystical, if a little eerie about the woodlands of Craufurdland Estate and it is my new favourite place to explore! This short 1.6 mile circuit takes you around some of it’s trails, avoiding the worst of the mud (still expect lots!), and along a high-level footpath above the Fenwick Water. Host of the popular Muddy Trials event and the recently-added Treetop Trials Highwire Adventure Course, there are paths galore zig zagging through the trees meaning this the walk can easily be extended should you wish. You may even stumble across the Shrek swamp! 

Print  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.

route image  Route: From the parking area walk along the main driveway in the Estate, heading away from the cafe and main entrance. Take the third trail on your right heading into the trees at an overhead zip wire (see photo below – be careful to walk around the zip wire rather than under it). A short distance along this particularly muddy path turn left on to a narrower footpath. Cross the boardwalk and follow the trail as it winds through the trees. Keep right at a fork and left at a second fork, to emerge back onto the Estate driveway a little further down. Cross the road to pick up a trail at the other side and follow it as goes gently uphill and into the trees once again. On reaching a fence line ahead of you turn right. The path then bends right again, turning back on itself before emerging onto the main driveway again. Turn left onto the road and then right onto a wide track passing the impressive Barncroft House on your left-hand side. Take the first trail on your left after Barncroft House, coming off the main track and back into the trees. The trail stays close to the edge of the field, with views of Craufurdland Castle. The trail eventually bends to the right where it meets another fenceline and leads you onto a wide track (this section at the meeting of the two fencelines is prone to flooding – if this is the case and you can’t pass, other paths have been worn by people trying to reach the wide track avoiding the flooded area so follow one of those off to the right.) When you emerge at the wide track, the continuation of the route is straight ahead. It doesn’t look like much of a path, I know! You’ll see a gate ahead, and just to the right of that is where you want to go (**see photo below). At first it is very muddy but soon you will enter a tree corridor. Walk along the tree corridor which follows the edge of a field. When you come out of the tree corridor the path turns right to skirt around the edge of the trees/field. At the end of this path turn right to enjoy a high-level walk along the edge of the forest with the Fenwick Water visible at times far beneath you. Where the path merges with the main gravel track, avoid the temptation of turning right and instead continue straight ahead picking up a small footpath in the trees. Cross a section of boardwalk then turn left to follow a faint muddy trail through the quirky woodland – the river should be to your left as you walk along, albeit far below. You will cross a slightly precarious-looking footbridge over a deep boggy section, followed by a smaller footbridge. At the crossroads turn right. Keep the fishing loch on your left-hand side and you will emerge onto the main driveway in the Estate, at the zip wire. Turn left to return to the parking area.

Route map - Craufurdland Woodland Trail

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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! 

Craufurdland Fishery
Craufurdland Fishery
Illustrated photo showing route passing behind zip wire
My very technical illustrated photo showing the third path on the right at the zip wire! Not that easy to see in the photo but there are two sets of ropes across the path preventing access, presumably for safety reasons because the zip wire passes overhead. When you reach the first rope go left and round the back of the tree rather than underneath the wooden platform. You can rejoin the path at the second rope.

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 ;-)

Boardwalk on a boggy path in Craufurdlland Woods, Kilmarnock
The paths through the woods are completely natural meaning tree roots, loose sticks and plenty of mud. Fortunately most of the worst areas of bog are crossable via little footbridges and boardwalks. One reason I love these woods so much!
Illustrated photo showing route across boggy ground into tree corridor
**Photo showing continuation of the route to the right of the gate and into the tree corridor
Small clearing in the conifers, Craufurdlland Woods
Tree corridor
Narrow path bordered by a field on one side and conifer trees on the other
The trail along the edge of the field after coming out of the tree corridor. There are often big muddy puddles along it.

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.

Woodland trail, Craufurdlland
High-level path at edge of steep embankment
The Fenwick Water
On a particularly cold, crisp December morning after several days of thick frost. Just beautiful!
Boardwalk bridge across a small burn, Craufurdlland Woods
The “slightly precarious-looking” footbridge near the end of the walk. Sturdy enough on our last visit in Jan 2023!

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!

I have two longer walks on my website which pass through Craufurdland Estate and may  therefore also interest you…

Craufurdland Countryside Walk (Field Path)

Craufurdland Countryside Walk (Grassyards Road)

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4 thoughts on “Walk 165 – Craufurdland Woodland Trail, Kilmarnock – 1.6 miles

  1. A cracking wander if you don’t mind a bit of mud! Plenty of trails and opportunities to wander off the beaten track. Really good for children and dogs. You could extend the walk to include the new Castle view walk or the Suspension bridge behind the lake. Only a hundred yards or so from the M77 but there is a real sense of seclusion.

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