Want to see a bit more of the village or try a longer walk? Combine this one with the Minnie Gemmell’s Loop to create a 5 mile figure-of-eight route.
TERRAIN: A mix of pavements, quiet roads, a short section of potentially busier road and some muddy woodland trails. Uneven in places with some hills and 3 sets of steps (two with handrail). One stile.
Dog-friendly route – responsible dog owners are welcome on the Dunlop trails (note: chance of encountering livestock on this route / one 400m section of potentially busier road with no pavement)
Dunlop is easily accessible by train on the Glasgow to Kilmarnock line. The walk begins from the train station. There are also local bus services to Dunlop which stop on Stewarton Rd/A735, a couple of minutes walk from the start point. Car parking available at the train station and on-street around the village.
WALK REVIEW: 23rd May & 14th December 2022
Who knew that you could arrive at Dunlop train station and have the choice between two fabulous walks?! Turn left and you can do the Minnie Gemmell’s Loop (great for seeing more of the village and learning about its heritage with a good lump of countryside thrown in). Turn right and you can do this route through quiet woodland, along country roads and into The Wee Glen.
Truth be told, prior to 23rd May 2022 I’d only been in Dunlop once in my life and that was when I walked there from Stewarton with my mum. I was pleasantly surprised on that first visit and vowed to return and explore more.
When I did I had a local person with me – Ruth – who showed me all the best places to walk. Ruth works hard to promote Dunlop as a village worth visiting and does this via the Visit Dunlop Facebook page which is actually what brought us into contact. Give it a follow!
When it came time to write up this route report 7 months later, I realised that even the combination of my photos, trace of the route and satellite imagery from Google couldn’t help me piece together an accurate enough route description through Commoncraig Wood and that is why on a very icy December morning I returned to pay more attention. It is also why the photos below include a mix of summer and winter.
Commoncraig has many little paths in it, most of which are not shown on the map, and all of which are muddy! Choose to either follow my description exactly or spend a bit more time exploring all the tracks and trails and seeing where you end up. It’s unlikely you’ll get lost: it isn’t a huge area, but I can’t promise you won’t end up walking round in circles :-D. I would recommend downloading the route to your mobile phone and following in my footsteps – see the purple download button above. That way you’ll notice if you go “off track” and be able to get yourself back on it. You’ll need the Visorando app, which is free to use and is my recommended mapping app.
Emerging out the trees onto an open grassy area, we arrived at a bench and a very unexpected view all the way across the Firth of Clyde to Ailsa Craig! I could imagine this being a nice place to come and sit with a book on a warm day.
The next section took us along the road to Dunlop House – another place I’d never been. This impressive stately property was the ancestral home of the Clan Dunlop, constructed in 1834 for Sir John Dunlop. It replaced 3 former manors which stood on this site over a period of 800 years! In more recent times the building has been used as a hospital, converted for use as office space, and is now nine private apartments. Ruth and I agreed that it would make a lovely wedding venue or spa hotel.
The excitement was not over yet though, as we still had The Wee Glen to go! When I walked this route in the summer of 2022 the entrance steps were being rebuilt by East Ayrshire Woodlands and the glen was technically closed. But since I was with my local tour guide :-), and no workers were currently onsite, we made our way carefully down the steep embankment to the riverside path. We enjoyed a wee whirl on the tree swing, absorbed the aroma of the wild garlic and admired the abundance of bamboo growing next to the path.
When I went back in December of the same year, the work was complete and The Wee Glen had reopened for all to enjoy. The burn flowing through it was frozen solid and my sons were in their element finding stones and sticks to throw on and try to break through the ice. A very lovely alternative to walking along the road!
No walk is quite the same without cake and a coffee at the end, and Dunlop boasts TWO excellent options both very close to this route: be sure to check out Struther Farmhouse Cafe & Shop, which you’ll walk right past, and Idle Hands shop & Bakery further into the village. Check their opening times as they are closed some days of the week.