Walk 221 – Kilmarnock to Dundonald – 6.5 miles

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Single track road leading to Dundonald village in the distance

A linear route starting at the south end of Kilmarnock and ending at Dundonald Castle. The first section takes you through Caprington Woods and past Caprington Castle then through the pretty hamlet of Earlston. From here on enjoy easy walking in quiet countryside all the way to Dundonald. 

TERRAIN: Mostly quiet surfaced roads, apart from the first section which involves uneven and often muddy woodland trails. A relatively flat walk with a few gentle gradients. 

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Buggy-friendly route (note: first section through the woods can be very muddy)

There is a car park at Caprington Golf Club, Ayr Road, Kilmarnock (KA1 4UW) however PLEASE AVOID USING THE CAR PARK IF IT IS BUSY. I recommend parking on Caprington Avenue, a couple of minutes walk from the start of the route. It is also easily accessible by public transport with bus stops on the Ayr Road. In Dundonald there is a car park at Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre. There are also bus services between Dundonald and Kilmarnock. 

black icon of a figure walking, a zig zag line with arrow on one end and a location pin on the other end Route: From the entrance to Caprington Golf Club, walk towards the clubhouse and through a gate leading into the woods. Follow the main trail through the woods for approx 1 mile. At the end of the trail, turn left onto a surfaced road – this leads to Caprington Castle. When you arrive in front of the castle keep left to walk along Todrigs Burn to the gatehouses. Go through the barrier and follow the road out to a minor road. Turn left and after approx half a mile you will go through the small hamlet of Earlston. Another half mile along turn right onto a single track road (signs for Caprington and Kilmarnock at the road end). Shortly after a right bend in this road turn left (signposted Symington, Dundonald). You will soon arrive at a fork – turn right. You will emerge in front of Dankeith Caravan Park. Turn right and just as the road starts to bend to the left, come off it onto a minor road on the right. After some uphill walking, take the first road on the left. At the crossroads with B730 continue straight ahead to walk past the side of Crooks Farm. After a long straight section, this road eventually zig-zags to the right and then the left. At the end of the road turn right – Dundonald village is now in sight. Turn right onto Old Loans Road and walk along Main Street. When you come in line with the war memorial, turn left to reach Dundonald Castle and the Visitor Centre.

Route map - Kilmarnock to Dundonald

WALK REPORT – 29th January 2023

This was my second attempt at doing this route, the first being almost exactly 2 years ago to the day. First time around was the final day of a winter walking challenge to #WalkOnceADay and let’s just say I went out with a bang!

Back in January 2021 I’d mapped out a circular route between Dewaldens Garden Centre and Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre – a coffee shop to coffee shop route! I did warn mum that it would be a bit of an adventure because I’d never tried it before and there were 2 sections I wasn’t sure were even possible. I’d used a combination of OpenStreetMap, OS maps, an aerial view and Google Streetview but it still wasn’t clear. I do like a challenge! We were aiming to follow disused railway track beds and quiet farm tracks to get there…

We did manage the loop as plotted and were blessed with great views all around including Arran, Loudoun Hill and Whitelee Windfarm. We also saw plenty of wildlife: loads of deer, a hare, a squirrel (in a hedge….). I just won’t mention the two barbed wire fence crossings and the several gates we had to climb over on the way there!! As a result we were pretty knackered by the time we arrived in Dundonald and it had taken far longer than anticipated to get there. Thankfully the way back was much easier going, consisting mainly of single track country roads.

Not a route I could really publish on my website…. I decided that I’d make it a linear walk following the roads we’d used to come back.

For some reason it took two years before that happened. Since it had been so long we decided to walk the route before writing it up, seeing as I’d never actually done it in the “right” direction. That also allowed me to get some up-to-date photos (see below and above).

It was a grey, windy day this time around, so not such grand views and little in the way of wildlife. That’s a lie – there were loads of sheep and cows in the fields around us. What was also prevalent, sadly, was fly tipping and litter along a lot of the roads. Nothing quite like it to ruin a good walk, eh? I was surprised to see lots of cyclists out enjoying the quiet country roads despite the strong wind. They all sported the same familiar grimace on their face as they battled against it!

My husband was meeting us at Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre and the plan was to do a short walk in the woods there whilst our kids were at their Art Class, and then get a lift back to Kilmarnock. I was fair chuffed with myself arriving in perfect timing to buy takeaway hot chocolates before he arrived. I must be getting better at estimating walk times: until about a year ago there was a running joke between mum and I that we needed to add an extra hour onto whatever length of time I had told her walks would likely take. Clearly overestimating our pace, especially with the number of photo stops I take! It took us a little short of 3 hours to walk this route. Just as I had said 😀

Other walks in the area you might enjoy:

Coodham Estate from Kilmarnock

The Craigie Loop

Caprington Castle via Earlston

Kilmarnock to Gatehead Circular

Smuggler’s Trail: Dundonald to Troon

Old Auchans House, Dundonald

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