Using Craig Tara as a Base for Walking in Ayrshire
With its rich and varied countryside, Ayrshire and south-west Scotland is a wonderful area for walking, and Craig Tara makes a very convenient base from which to explore the region. There are walks to suit all levels and tastes from pleasant strolls to demanding expeditions. Here we give a few suggestions to show what is available. More suggestions and details are available on the Ayrshire Paths website.
A wide, flat path goes along the entire length of Ayr sea-front. You can reach it by crossing the Millenium Bridge over the River Doon next to Craig Tara. Along its length are food outlets, play areas and toilets. There are lovely views over the beach to Arran.
Greenan and Heads of Ayr
Immediately beside Craig Tara, this stretch of shoreline is very popular with local walkers especially around Greenan Castle.
Culzean Castle and Maidens
Roughly ten miles south of Craig Tara is the stunning Culzean Castle, owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is set in extensive wooded grounds with a large network of paths. An excellent and undemanding day's walk is a circuit starting at the village of Maidens and going past the castle to the lovely Croy Beach and back through the grounds.
Ness Glen and Bogton Loch
This 14km walk is one of the best in Ayrshire: a lovely circuit taking in Bogton Loch, Loch Doon and Ness Glen. The scenery is varied (woodland, river, gorge, moorland) and there is a lot of wildlife to be seen, especially birds but also the chance of Otters. The walk is especially attractive during spring when the woods are full of flowers and bird-song, or autumn when the colour of the trees is superb. The best place to start is the car park at the Loch Doon dam. A shorter walk around just Ness Glen is an excellent alternative.
This glen is near New Cumnock, roughly 30 minutes from Craig Tara. It was made famous by Robert Burns' poem Sweet Afton and is still a beautiful, tranquil area. There is a lovely river-side picnic spot at the Burns Memorial. Several walks of varying levels start in the glen: an upland circuit of the surrounding hills is for fit walkers and gives the best views, but a lower-level circuit of the Afton Reservoir is a pleasant alternative. Park at the end of the glen passed the water treatment works.
Ayrshire Coastal Path
This recently created path (one of Scotland's Great Trails) stretches for most of the county's long coastline, and Craig Tara sits in the middle making it a very convenient base for either completing its entire length, or for tackling smaller sections. The southern part is increasingly rugged and remote with stunning coastal scenery including views over to Ailsa Craig and Northern Ireland. The northern section passes other Ayrshire coastal towns including Largs. More details can be found on the Ayrshire Coastal Path website.
The Awful Hand
This 20km route takes in five hills straddling the Ayrshire/Galloway border, including the Merrick - the highest peak in south-west Scotland. This is a demanding full-day's walk for experienced and fit walkers. It is roughly 45 minutes away from Craig Tara. It gives fantastic views of this remote, beautiful and strangely ignored corner of Scotland.