Starting at Dewaldens Garden Centre in Kilmarnock, this route first crosses Caprington Golf Course and then makes use of paved roads and paths to reach the 95 acre Coodham Estate just outside Symington. Take time to explore the Estate’s many interesting features and paths including the lake, mansion, shrine and graveyard, before starting the walk back to Kilmarnock via the high road past Stafflar Farm. A few short busy sections to be aware of – see route info for details. Option to extend past Caprington Castle to form an 8 mile loop.
PLEASE AVOID USING THE CAR PARKS AT DEWALDENS GARDEN CENTRE/CAFE AND AT CAPRINGTON GOLF CLUB. 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.
Route: Starting from Dewaldens Garden Centre & Cafe head north-east (right if facing the building) to the far end of the car park. Turn left onto a lane which leads onto Caprington Golf Course. Take care to cross straight ahead where the continuation of the route is along a track between two hedgerows. Shortly after passing a stone ruin look out for a path on the left and follow this across the golf course and along a row of trees out onto a minor road. Turn left here and you will soon emerge onto the Ayr Road / B7038. Take care – this road can be busy but you are not on it for long! Turn right and use the grass verge to follow the road along for approx 300 metres. You will pass a farm road on your right then immediately after that you come off the Ayr Road and veer right onto Spittal Hill Road – a much quieter single track road. After approx 0.8 miles this road ends abruptly and you follow the cycle path to the left out onto the pavement beside A77 – again take care here as traffic will be moving past at speed! Turn right and follow the cycle path for a very short 100 metres where you turn right through a gated entrance at a small cottage. You are now entering the Coodham Estate. You can either follow this track straight ahead to reach Coodham House (most direct route through the Estate and the one my map shows) or feel free to explore the many footpaths and points of interest inside the Estate, such as into the old cemetery and around the edge of the pond. On reaching Coodham House follow the footpath out the main driveway to a roundabout on B730. Continue straight on and use the pavement to cross over the A77 flyover and down to another roundabout. Here again continue straight on which takes you onto a single track road. Follow this for 1.8 miles past several farms, across another A77 flyover and emerge at Ayr Road / B7038. Turn right – you are only on this road for a short 80 metres but take care – and take the first left which takes you onto the Kilmarnock to Gatehead back-road you were on earlier. From here retrace your steps back to the start.
[Option to extend route by 1.7 miles: continue on the Kilmarnock-Gatehead road through Earlston and first right down past Caprington Castle. Continue along the main driveway for half a mile (if you come to the bridge over River Irvine you have gone too far), turning right to follow a track through the woods to Caprington Golf Club. Follow the main road out of the car park and turn right onto Ayr Road. The start point is just along the 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. You can read more about it on the Friends of Coodham website.
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!