Walk 228 – Barony A Frame to Dumfries House Estate – 3 miles

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My mum and son walking next to the Barony A Frame
Barony A Frame

Take yourself back to a time when coal mining was the main industry in this part of East Ayrshire with a visit to the Barony A Frame, all that remains following demolition of the Barony Colliery in 1992. Situated between Auchinleck and Ochiltree, the site provides a poignant glimpse into what life would have been like for the miners and their families and how coal mines worked. The walk down into the Dumfries House Estate is only 1.5 miles away and gives you the opportunity to enjoy open views across the grassy farmland towards the neighbouring villages. The walk can be extended by exploring the Estate – I recommend this route which takes in all the best bits.

TERRAIN: Surfaced paths and earth trails which can become very muddy/waterlogged in places. Downhill most of the way there and uphill most of the way back. One kissing gate.

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Print  Dog-friendly walk (as long as you don’t mind them getting muddy!)

  Car parking at Barony A Frame. Local bus service stops on Barony Road a short walk from the start point. There is cycle parking on the Barony A Frame site, next to the pump track (see map on arrival).

route image  Route: From the parking area walk beneath the A Frame and veer left onto a red blaze footpath. This soon turns to concrete then gravel, leading downhill through a wooded area. Where the path splits into two, keep left. Continue to follow the path around the hillside with views starting to open up across the surrounding farmland. The route soon flattens out and follows the course of a small burn before bending sharp right and following a narrow trail between two fence lines. You will emerge into Dumfries House Estate a little east of the walled garden. Enjoy exploring the Estate then return to the A Frame via the same route.

Route map - Barony A Frame to Dumfries House Estate

WALK REPORT: 15th February 2023

A new walk for me today: believe it or not my very first time out at Barony A Frame! What an amazing place.

Before setting off on our walk to Dumfries House Estate we spent ages exploring and reading all the historical info boards. I really love when effort is made to preserve the heritage of an area and this site is a brilliant example of that.

Beneath the A Frame itself were at least a dozen information boards detailing everything from how coal is formed, the layout of Barony, what life was like for the miners and some important historical events which impacted the site. It was utterly fascinating.

Whilst I stood reading all of that my kids were in their element running around the pump track and climbing on the kids play equipment. There were even a handful of picnic benches. We’d definitely be back!

I could have spent longer there taking it all in, but there was a walk to be done and a deadline to be back for my son’s karate training and so we got going.

In my research for this route I had read several accounts of the path being muddy and today was no exception. Not only was it muddy, when we reached the lowest section the “path” was completely waterlogged and we had some trouble getting through with dry feet. I’m not sure how often it is like that – I wouldn’t say we’ve had unusual amounts of rainfall recently…. it is winter mind you… As I always say, these sorts of things add to the adventure :-D

I was really pleased with how well the kids shoes performed. They are just cheap trail running shoes and not at all marketed as waterproof, however a couple of months ago I painted them with my new favourite fabric waterproofing product: Fabsil Gold. It came recommended to me by a Countryside Ranger friend and I have honestly been so impressed by it. The kids feet used to be soaking if they walked on the slightest bit of wet grass, and on this walk their feet were submerged in water several times and their socks were still dry when we got back to the car. The main downside to the product is a strong chemical smell when you apply it – smells like turps – but it goes away once it dries into the fabric. I learned the hard way to apply it outdoors!

We didn’t meet a soul on this walk until we reached Dumfries House Estate. We went down to the pagoda to eat our packed lunches and a enjoyed quick wander around the walled garden and sadly had to head back already.

Narrow earth trail running alongside a small stream
Nice section along a small burn
Octagonal wood and stone pagoda with wooden benches all around it, Dumfries House Estate
The pagoda, as I call it. Dumfries House Estate. This is where we enjoyed our packed lunch before heading back.

On the way back I realised how much of a hill we had come down. Why doesn’t it seem that steep and long when you are going down the way?! :-)

My youngest kept finding lumps of coal along the path which he hadn’t seemed to notice on the way there. They intrigued him. Looking at the colour of his hands after touching it for a few seconds led us to chat about how dirty the miners must have got working with it for 7 hours a day. He wondered if they walked around all day like he had, looking for coal…. I’d taken it for granted that he understood they had to go underground for it and so that realisation opened up a whole other bunch of questions from him (most of which I could answer thanks to having read all those information boards earlier!) My mum told him that if he had a fire at home he would have been able to take some home and burn it….. “Oh is *that* what people used to burn in their houses?!“…. Isn’t it great how a short walk in the great outdoors can be so educational!

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