Walk 165 – Craufurdland Woodland Trail, Kilmarnock – 1.6 miles

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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!

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 map - Craufurdland Woodland Trail

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!

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