PLEASE AVOID USING THE CAR PARKS AT DEWALDENS GARDEN CENTRE/CAFE, EVEN IF PLANNING ON USING THE CAFE BEFORE/AFTER THE WALK. The cafe is always very busy with a quick turnover of customers and car park spaces should not be taken up by walkers who will be away for the length of time this walk takes. PLEASE ALSO DO NOT USE THE CAR PARK AT CAPRINGTON GOLF CLUB IF IT IS BUSY WHEN YOU ARRIVE. There is plenty of on-street parking available in nearby Shortlees or Caprington residential areas, a short walk from the start of the route. It is also easily accessible by public transport with bus stops on the Ayr Road.
WALK REPORT: 21ST FEBRUARY 2021
I had passed the impressive entrance gates to Coodham Estate many times in the car, the gold lettering catching my eye. I had always thought of it as a private estate until I began seeing people posting on social media about going for a walk there. Until lockdown forced me to explore more of the area in the immediate vicinity to my home, I hadn’t realised how close it was to me, nor that I could actually walk there from Kilmarnock!
When I plotted out my planned route for this, I had it crossing through the Estate in a straight line along the main driveway. True to form, we were only in there a few minutes when temptation got the better of me and I couldn’t resist a de-tour when I saw the stone way-marker for the graveyard. “Oooooh I wonder what that looks like, it must be something quite spectacular to have a stone like that pointing out the way to it…” I said. Mum agreed. Off we trotted down a narrow earth footpath, excited to be in new territory having plodded along the same few routes for over a year now! The entrance gates were covered over with a giant, very out-of-place festival banner of some sort. When we approached it we could see that they were made from ornate wood, much of which was starting to rot. It was clear that someone was looking after it, trying to preserve and rebuild it which was great. The graveyard itself was long and narrow, with the grave stones built flat into the ground for the most part, the main exception being a stone cross with Celtic patterns on it at the far end.
That was just the beginning of our adventure which saw us spend a good couple of hours exploring the Estate and finding a quiet spot to eat our packed lunch in the sunshine. There is a running joke between mum and I that no matter how long we think we will need to do a walk, we should always add on an hour and that usually ends up being much more accurate. Today was no exception.
Our first glimpse of Coodham House was from across the lake and as we got closer we wondered about its history. The grade A listed mansion dates from the 1830s and was originally called Williamfield after William Fairlie who’s wife commissioned it. It was owned by the Fairlie family until 1871 and is now luxury apartments.
Coodham might be the main attraction on this circular route, however the rest of it also boasts some really lovely parts, with a couple of busy sections along roads which unfortunately can’t be avoided but I would say are well worth it! The hedge- and tree-lined path across Caprington golf course was fairly new to me (and I thought I knew every path in that area!), and the views from the country roads are across the fields is very pleasing. On a clear day you will see Arran from the higher points and there is something that made me feel very smug about doing a loop AROUND the busy A77, managing to avoid it by finding all the quiet single track roads either side of it. On the final section, if you look to your right you may even be able to spot Ayrshire’s Wallace Monument (Barnweil Monument) and the remains of Craigie Castle across the fields!