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, 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!
Download a route map for your mobile phone HERE (Viewranger app required)
Small parking area at Craufurdland Fishery (KA3 6BS)
Route: Head south-west from the parking area (away from the loch) along the main road in the Estate. Come off the road at the second footpath on your right, turning onto a muddy track which appears to make it’s way around the edge of the loch. 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 then bends right then left to continue through the trees emerging onto the main road again near a crossroads. Turn left onto the road and right at the crossroads to pass the impressive Barncroft House. Follow the wide gravel track, turning left at the corner and continuing down the next track to reach the end of the trees (note that this last track can be extremely muddy in which case I recommend heading into the trees on your left where you will find much drier ground and can follow vague paths parallel to the main track). Where you emerge back out onto the main track, cross straight over to enter the forest at the other side (very muddy at first and no obvious path), picking up a footpath ahead of you which takes you along a corridor in the dense forest, before bending right to skirt around the edge of the trees. You will arrive at a field edge with electricity pylons running overhead and the Fenwick Water ahead beneath you. Turn right here and enjoy a high-level walk along the edge of the forest (beware of felled trees on the ground blocking some of the path). Where the path leaves this area of forestry, veer right, looking out for a footpath with a short section of boardwalk over a particularly boggy area. Cross this and follow the path left as it takes you into the quirky woodland once again. Keep right at a fork to continue straight ahead. Turn left at the T-junction, cross another boardwalk followed by a (slightly worse-for-wear) wooden footbridge and the path will lead you to the lochside track. Turn right to follow the footpath around the edge of the loch and back to the main estate road. Turn left here to return to the parking area.
WALK REPORT: December 2017
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 two years ago. 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. In the past year I have 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 a cabin cafe complete with portaloo and I understand that plans are afoot to open a new cafe restaurant late spring 2018!
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