Oswald Hall (no public access) Photo: CLIVE DRUMMOND
Located just outside Ayr and Prestwick, Auchincruive trails are based around of the private Oswald Hall and the former grounds of the Scottish Agricultural College. This area is subject to ongoing change since the college moved its educational campus to a new site in Ayr and Oswald hall was sold to a biotech company, but the trails are still worth exploring as they are mostly outwith the area under development.
- Three Green Knights Trail 2.5 km / 1.5 miles
- Oswald’s Trail 4.5 km / 2.75 miles
- Waggonway Trail 4.75km / 3 miles
South Ayrshire Council developed, promotes and maintains the paths network centred on Auchincruive Estate.
There are no cafes, restaurants or public toilets in the immediate vicinity. Heathfield retail park on the outskirts of Ayr, about 2 miles drive from Auchincruive, has cafes and restaurants.
River Ayr from Oswald’s Bridge
Three Green Knights Trail 2.5 km / 1.5 miles
This short easy walk along the south bank of the River Ayr and through attractive mixed woodland on the Auchincruive Estate is ideal to sample the area in a short time. Starting from the car park near Oswald’s Bridge, go over the bridge. There is a monument to both William Wallace and Robert Burns at a spot immediately on the right in the woods. The trail continues turning immediately left after crossing the bridge along the south bank of the river. Over the stile following the fence line and into Pheasant Nook, the path which winds its way through attractive mixed woodland consisting mainly of Beech, Oak, Scots Pine and Japanese Larch. A steep climb takes you to the top of the Three Green knights’ field, apparently called after three green mounds still visible in the field. At this point take the opportunity to stop and admire one of the most attractive views in the area. Westward across the river, the hanging gardens, Oswald Hall, Mount Charles, the Carrick Hills, and on a clear day the distant hills of Arran can be seen. The path next to the river also forms part of the The River Ayr Way.
View route on Walkhighlands.
The hanging gardens between Oswald Hall and the River Ayr Photo: CLIVE DRUMMOND
Oswald's Trail 4.5 km / 2.75 miles
Walk up the river alongside Oswald Hall, which was built in 1767 to a design by Robert Adam. Oswald was chief negotiator during the American War of Independence where he earned the name “Richard the Peacemaker”. With the river ahead the route passes the hanging garden which forms a lovely landscape feature and was built by unemployed miners in 1830. Upstream where the gardens are now situated is the site of Millholm, an ancient hamlet. Part of the bank was washed away in 1966 exposing an old mill lade. The riverside path entres Brocklehill Wood, continues along the farm track passing Nellie’s Gate. The journey is completed by following the estate road back via the arboretum and skirting the sports field.
View route on Walkhighlands.
Craighall Wood near “Wallace’s Seat” Photo: CLIVE DRUMMOND
Waggonway Trail 4.75km / 3 miles
From the car park cross Oswald’s Bridge, then from the gate on the left the route follows the edge of the field to the top corner of the Three Green Knights’ field with its panoramic view. Passing through Pheasant Nook Wood the path eventually follows the route of the old waggonway which was constructed in the 19th century. It served pits along the route and transported coal in wagons pulled initially by horses and later locomotives to Ayr harbour. The remains of the support pillars spanning the river can still be seen. The route now lies through Craighall Wood, eventually reaching “Wallace’s Seat”, a promontory overlooking the river. This was once the haunt of William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame who reputedly sat here contemplating the battles with the English. He also took refuge in the nearby Leglen Wood after the burning of the Barns of Ayr. There is a monument to Wallace in the wood beside Oswald’s Bridge. Leaving the woods follow the track over Loudon Law and enjoy the pleasant pastoral views and ambience of the rural setting.