A Walk South from Portpatrick
Take a switchback moorland road down to a secluded bay and walk back along the scenic clifftop path via a romantic castle ruin in the Rhins of Galloway area of Wigtownshire. Written for Walkingworld by Tony Brotherton. From the little port-resort of Portpatrick in the Rhins of Galloway, this scenic walk heads south on a moorland by road and visits a secluded seaside hotel at Knockinaam, where refreshments are available, then returns past the ruinous Dunskey Castle in its dramatic clifftop setting. The coastal scenery, together with birdlife and flowers a-plenty, make this a walk to remember.
Access: Enter Portpatrick on the A77, along main street and down to the harbour. Turn left to park in the large free car park alongside the old lighthouse. There are also car parking spaces around the inner harbour.
Bus 367 from Stranraer
Ayrshire Coastal Path
The second stage of the Ayrshire Coastal Path follows the sandy and rocky shoreline before running alongside the busy A77.
Terrain: Surfaced roads, sandy beaches and grassy roadside verges.
Time: 3.5 - 4 hours
Route Description: Stage 1: From the car park at the southern end of Ballantrae head north along the sandy beach to reach the port until larger modern fishing boats outgrow it and herring stocks declined. Head down a small slip and onto the beach - the firm sand makes this an easy three kilometres with Ailsa Craig a constant companion on the horizon as the waypoint of Bennane Head draws nearer.
Ayrshire Path - Dunure to Ayr
A trickier section of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, featuring some sections of hard walking on rocky and slippery foreshore, though beautiful tiny harbours and the potential for some panoramic coastal views reward the intrepid walker. It is essential to check tide times before leaving Dunure Harbour - a high spring tide will necessitate a bit of a wait or a tricky scramble.
Terrain: Sandy and rocky beaches, muddy/grassy farm tracks and promenade.
Time: 4.5 - 5 hours
Route description: Stage 1: After leaving Kennedy Park spend some time exploring the ruins of Dunure Castle, the main Kennedy stronghold in the 16th century though dating from far earlier. Past the castle is a nicely intact doocot, follow the path past this and down into the main village and harbour.
Barony Hill, Dailly
A walk of contrasts - open moorland views, a summit ridge and idyllic woodland walking. There is even a ruined castle or two.
Terrain: Country lanes, earth footpaths and faint, grassy tracks - very wet in places.
Time: 3 - 3.5 hours
Route description: Stage 1: A 'Dailly Trails' board in the village square offers a large scale map of the route out of the village; follow the B741 east as it passes the church and curves right to reach a crossroad. Cross when safe and head up the surfaced minor road as indicated by the metal oak leaf path marker. This metal post will quickly become familiar as the walk progresses, representing the Colliers' Oak where local mine owners used to meet with the Laird of Dalquharran. Continue up the road, gradually gaining height.
Byne Hill, Girvan
An ascent of popular Byne Hill offers some of the best views in Ayrshire.
Terrain: Pavement, farm tracks and grassy paths.
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Route description: Stage 1: From the car park - equipped with a small takeaway booth and public toilets - follow the Ayrshire Coastal Path south along the good roadside pavement, enjoying the varied foreshore geology of Horse Rock and Woodland Bay, all the time accompanied by Ailsa Craig offshore. Take the second turning on the left - after the minor road leading to Shalloch Mill and the bridge over Bynehill Burn.
Stage 2: Follow the farm track past a layby to a gate leading to a further track heading uphill and parallel to the A77 below. Follow the easy track.
This enjoyable woodland walk heads down to visit the coast at Port Kale and returns past a gloomy waterfall. The walk is usually open from March to mid-October.
Terrain: Woodland tracks and paths; muddy / slightly overgrown at times
Time: 1.5 hours
Route description: Stage 1: To reach the car park, head out of Portpatrick towards Stranraer and then turn left onto the B738. After a short distance turn left onto a track - signed Dunskey Glen walks. The track bends round to the right and the car park is on the left before the farm is reached. Begin the walk by continuing along the track towards the farm. Opposite the buildings is a small information hut on the left giving some details about the walk. Back on the track, turn left at the farm, and keep left on the main track.
Kildoon Hill, Maybole
A relatively straightforward circular route from Maybole including an ascent of local landmark Kildoon Hill.
Terrain: Quiet country lanes, old coach road and grassy paths. Can be overgrown and muddy in places - Oct 2020 farm gate to be climbed until kissing gate is repaired at Stage 4.
Time: 2.5 - 3 hours
Route description: Stage 1: The walk begins from Maybole train station opposite Town Green - cross the road, follow the path across the green and go down School Vennel to reach the High Street. Turn right along the pavement and pass the imposing Town Hall, built in 1887 and seat of power for the old county of Carrick. The current building contains elements of the Tolbooth or ancient Prison of Maybole and was once the town residence of the Lairds of Blairquhan.
Maxwellston Hill, Dailly
A rough hill walk to a panoramic viewpoint. Not one for those that are angered by wind turbines. This is one of the trickier walks in this area, requiring the ability to take and follow a compass bearing -- useful should the mist descend on the featureless summit plateau.
Terrain: Country lanes, earth footpaths and faint, grassy tracks - very wet in places; map and compass skills needed.
Time: 2.5 - 3 hours
Route description: Stage 1: Leave the village square as indicated by the fence post waymarker, along Greenhead Street and The Loaning to reach a road junction by the cemetery. Cross over and pass the cemetery entrance before continuing along the farm track towards Craig farm. The peat-stained waters of Lindsayston Burn trickle alongside the track until the main.
Oswald's Trail, Auchincruive
Located just outside the county town of Ayr, Auchincruive Estate is a popular walking and mountain bike destination with a network of picturesque trails. One of the longer routes on the Estate, this walk combines a stretch of pleasant riverside walking with woodland trails and a return through the estate arboretum.
Terrain: Earth footpaths, woodland tracks and quiet minor road.
Time: 1 - 1.5 hours
Route description: Stage 1: Begin from the car park 400m west of Oswald's Bridge. Start the walk by crossing the road and then turning right along the path that runs on the far side to reach Oswald's Bridge; do not cross, instead turn left along the tarred lane along the near side of the river. Continue until a gap on the right (waymarked) enables you to descend.
114 Smuggler's Trail, South Ayrshire
Start from the car park at Troon’s invigorating South Sands. To the right, beyond the wide sweep of bay, you can see a point which sticks out and protects the north facing harbour that gives the Ayrshire town its name: ‘Troon’ is believed to be a derivation of the Welsh ‘trwyn’, meaning nose or cape. It’s an ideal location for a harbour and timber and other goods are still ferried from here. To follow in the smugglers’ footsteps follow the road round to the right, through the Royal Golf Club, before veering left to take the path across the course and a rail bridge. A track leads on, to reach a busy road. Cross over for Crosbie Church and access to Fullarton House. Follow the trail signs to reach Loans. Continue by the main road, on a footpath, to take the first right. This leads onto a welcome quiet stretch and up to a reservoir with excellent views of the Isle of Arran. Blue markers indicate the way ahead through the wood. Watch for the occasional mountain biker tackling a steep, tricky, descent before Dundonald Castle appears. Cross a burn and go right to see the castle’s impressive exterior. Built for Robert II’s accession to the Scottish throne in 1371, the stronghold was used as a royal residence by the early Stewart kings for the next 150 years.
Catch a bus back to Troon or retrace the seven-mile journey for a just reward.
The Tale of Ardstinchar Castle
If the ruins of Ardstinchar Castle could speak they would tell a tale of a series of events designed to wipe out one branch of Ayrshire’s most powerful family, the Kennedys. Fact or Fiction? An ancient manuscript lies in a basement in an Edinburgh library. It was written at the time of these events and, although the author remains anonymous, it is believed to be the work of John Mure of Auchindrain House near Ayr. It was the writing of S R Crocket, minister turned novelist, who brought this story to the attention of a wider public when he took it and used it as the basis of his novel The Grey Man. This is a work of fiction but woven through the tale is the factual thread of the tragic events which occurred in Ayrshire at the end of the 16th century.
Three Green Kings Trail Annebank
This short, gentle walk along the south bank of the River Ayr and through attractive mixed woodland on the Auchincruive Estate. Located just outside the county town of Ayr, the estate is a popular walking and mountain bike destination with a network of picturesque trails.
Terrain: Earth footpaths and woodland tracks.
Time: 45 mins - 1 hour
Route description: Stage 1: Begin from the car park 400m west of Oswald's Bridge. Start the walk by crossing the road and then turning right along the path that runs on the far side to reach and cross Oswald's Bridge. Erected in 1826 and named after Richard Oswald, the 18th century tobacco merchant and slave trader who built the present Auchincruive House in 1767. Immediately after crossing the bridge turn left where indicated.
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