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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!
Dog-friendly walk (as long as you don’t mind them getting very muddy!)
Small parking area at Craufurdland Fishery (KA3 6BS)
Route: Head south-west from the parking area (away from the cafe) along the main road in the Estate. Come off the road at the second footpath on your right (the first is gated with an “anglers only” sign and the one you want is approx 100m further along), onto a muddy track with trees on either side and the loch to the right. Only a short distance round look out for a narrower footpath heading into the trees on your left. Follow this winding trail through the trees to emerge back onto the main estate road a little further down. Cross the road to pick up the footpath at the other side and follow it as goes gently uphill and into the trees once again. Keep straight ahead at any path junctions and 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 road again. Turn left onto the road and right at the crossroads to pass the impressive Barncroft House. Follow the wide gravel track until you reach a similar wide gravel track on your left. Turn onto that and continue along until you start to emerge out of the trees (if you pass an information board you’ve gone too far). Turn right to leave the wide gravel track and head into the forest (**see photo below). At first it is very muddy and doesn’t look like much of a path but soon you will enter a tree corridor. Walk along the tree corridor and you will emerge at a fence and open field where the path turns right to skirt around the edge of the trees. Beware of the deep muddy puddles often found on this path! 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 at a section of boardwalk. Follow the path ahead through the quirky woodland, keeping the river to your left. You will cross a (slightly precarious-looking) boardwalk footbridge over a deep boggy section, followed by a smaller boardwalk. Arriving at a crossroads, turn right to follow the footpath around the edge of the loch and back to the main estate road, where a left turn takes you to the parking area.
WALK REPORT: December 2017 (updated January 2022)
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 Craufurd family live there. 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 tranquility 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!
I have two longer walks on my website which pass through Craufurdland Estate and may therefore also interest you…
Craufurdland Countryside Walk (Field Path) >> CLICK HERE
Craufurdland Countryside Walk (Grassyards Road) >> CLICK HERE