Ayrshire Smuggler's Trail

Follow this ancient route between Dundonald and Troon, used in the 18th century to smuggle illegal goods inland! It covers a varied terrain including woodland paths, tarmac roads, grass and sand. You will pass a quiet reservoir, walk through Fullarton Woods then across Royal Troon Golf Course, finishing it off with a stroll along Troon’s sandy Beach.

Technical sheet
No. 21815880
A South Ayrshire walk posted on 10/05/22 by Gillian's Walks. Update : 11/05/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h10[?]
Distance Distance : 10.42km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 68m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 107m
Highest point Highest point : 96m
Lowest point Lowest point : 1m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Location Location : South Ayrshire
Starting point Starting point : N 55.577574° / W 4.595994°
Ending point Ending point : N 55.533687° / W 4.653162°
Download : -
Troon Beach Dundonald Woods Dundonald Woods


(D) From Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre follow the footpath which goes West from the information board, passing a kids play park on your right-hand side.

Ignore paths on your right leading into a residential area 250m along.

(1) Once in the woods you will cross a footbridge and arrive at a 3-way crossroads. Take the path on your left (South East) and follow it through the woodland.

(2) There are numerous footpaths leading off to the left as you walk along however stick to the main, wider path until you reach an obvious fork 700m along after a steep uphill section. Turn left (South East) here.

(3) Almost immediately turn right (South West) as indicated by a marker post.

A further 300m along ignore a path on your left, instead continuing South West for a further 600m to the edge of a reservoir.

(4) Continuing ahead with the reservoir on your right-hand side, the path turns to the right (North West) when you reach the far end of the reservoir and follows the line of a wall for a short distance before you turn left (South West) to pick up a track passing a disused quarry.

You will emerge at a minor road which passes a cluster of houses and farms, before leading you over A78/Troon bypass via a footbridge and onto A759.

Turn left (South East) and use the roadside pavement to reach the village of Loans. At a roundabout continue ahead (South East) onto B746 / Main Street. This section lasts for 1.8km.

(5) Turn right (South West) down a farm track (there is a Smuggler's Trail way marker).

(6) After only 160m turn right through an open wooden gate to walk along a narrow path alongside a field.

(7) The Darley Burn will be on your left-hand side and after 360m you will reach a footbridge on your left. Cross the bridge and turn right (West) as indicated by the way marker.

You will reach a surfaced road where you turn left (South). This tree-lined tarmac road continues South for approx 860m through Fullarton Woods, past the toilet block and car park and Rugby Club.

(8) The surfaced road turns into a gravel track which you should follow, still South, for 420m. Turn right (West) to pass the entrance to Crosbie Cemetery.

The path disappears here. Cut across the grass and take care crossing Monktonhill Road to pick up a track clearly visible heading into the trees at the other side. This section can be very muddy.

After 420m you will come to a gate and the B749/Southwood Road. Cross the road carefully and again the onward route is clearly visible straight ahead.

(9) You will emerge onto the Prestwick-Troon cycle track - turn left (South) then use the ramp to access the footbridge over the railway line and on to Royal Troon Golf Course.

The right of way across the golf course lasts for 600m in a South West direction. Continue ahead to go over the top of the sand dues to arrive onto Troon Beach.

(10) Turn right (North West) on the beach and walk along the coastline.

(11) After approx 1.4km use the wooden steps to leave the beach and reach the car park just off the promenade.

(A) Troon South Beach Esplanade car park

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 40m - Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre (KA2 9HD)
1 : km 0.36 - alt. 47m - Footbridge and 3-way crossroads
2 : km 1.05 - alt. 69m - Fork - turn left
3 : km 1.08 - alt. 69m - Marker post - turn right
4 : km 2.84 - alt. 49m - Disused quarry
5 : km 5.53 - alt. 30m - Farm track
6 : km 5.69 - alt. 24m - Right turn through wooden gate
7 : km 6.06 - alt. 12m - Footbridge
8 : km 7 - alt. 23m - Start of gravel track
9 : km 8.2 - alt. 11m - Prestwick-Troon cycle track
10 : km 8.96 - alt. 2m - Troon Beach
11 : km 10.37 - alt. 3m - Steps access to promenade
A : km 10.42 - alt. 3m - Troon South Beach Esplanade car park (KA10 6ES)

Useful Information

For more information and a walk review visit Gillian's Walks


  • Car parking: There is a small car park at Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre (KA2 9HD) and a large car park at Troon South Beach Esplanade (KA10 6ES). If traveling by car it is best to leave a car parked at each end because it is not very simple to get between Troon and Dundonald by public transport and the journey time is long considering the short distance.
  • By public transport: bus services to Dundonald and Troon, Troon also has a train station.

Way marking
Inside Dundonald Woods the Smuggler's Trail is signposted using short wooden marker posts with green arrows on them. Beyond Loans village, the way markers are tall wooden finger posts.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

  • Smuggler's Trail - an ancient route used in the 18th century to transport tea, wine, brandy, rum and tobacco inland from the cargo boats arriving in Troon. There is an information board outside Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre which explains the smuggling history of the area
  • Dundonald Castle - possible to visit inside, purchase tickets at the Visitor Centre
  • Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre - cafe, toilets, gift shop, information and tickets
  • Dundonald Woods - ancient woodland rich in fungi & wild flowers
  • Collennan Reservoir
  • Old Loans Inn - bar meals
  • Fullarton Woods - Fairy Trail, public toilets, play area
  • Marr Rugby Club
  • Crosbie Kirk and Cemetery
  • Royal Troon Golf Course - founded in 1878 and has hosted 9 Open championships (the next one will be held here in 2023)
  • Troon Beach

Other walks in the area

Local authority
Old Auchans House, Dundonald
distance 4.01km Vertical gain +63m Vertical drop -61m Durée 1h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in South Ayrshire

Wandering though this delightful woodland, the impressive remains of 16th century Old Auchans House seem to appear out of nowhere. Go late January to see snowdrops galore, late April for wild garlic, and May for a sea of bluebells!

Local authority
Ballast Bank, Troon
distance 3.8km Vertical gain +2m Vertical drop -2m Durée 1h05 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in South Ayrshire

You will begin by walking along a stone footpath built into the side of the Ballast Bank, followed by a stroll along the promenade towards Troon South Beach where there is an excellent play park for the kids to enjoy. On the return, try the path across the top of the Ballast Bank instead – you will be treated to spectacular views across the Firth of Clyde on a clear day.

Local authority
Irvine Beach
distance 10.56km Vertical gain +3m Vertical drop -3m Durée 3h00 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in North Ayshire

Sandy Irvine Beach is wild, beautiful and seems to go on and on forever! In fact it stretches 3 miles along to Barassie. You can choose to walk all the way to Barassie and back, or if you are looking for a shorter walk, just go as far as you want to before turning back. Lined with high sand dunes and the Isle of Arran visible to the west, the beach here is popular with locals out for some fresh air and exercise.

Local authority
Dean Castle Country Park via Borland
distance 4.37km Vertical gain +26m Vertical drop -26m Durée 1h20 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in East Ayrshire

A beautiful countryside walk into the popular Dean Castle Country Park, taking in both Fenwick Water and Craufurdland Water. There are options to extend to visit the castle, Rural Life Centre, duck ponds and kids play area.

Local authority
Lainshaw Woods & the Annick Water, Stewarton
distance 8.3km Vertical gain +52m Vertical drop -59m Durée 2h30 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in East Ayrshire

A scenic and varied figure of eight walk which follows the Annick Water on its journey through Stewarton, including through the town’s popular Lainshaw Woods and Cunningham Watt Park.

Local authority
Peden's Cove, Failford
distance 3.11km Vertical gain +45m Vertical drop -40m Durée 1h00 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in South Ayrshire

Peden’s Cove is hidden inside Ayr Gorge Woodland, a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve. This beautiful and ancient woodland is formed around an incredible red sandstone canyon, which gives the water of the River Ayr a vibrant red appearance when the sun shines directly onto it! Peden’s Cove, a set of steps carved into the red sandstone cliffs, is reached a mile along the footpath.

Local authority
Blue Bonnet Trails Circular, Ayr
distance 11.6km Vertical gain +19m Vertical drop -20m Durée 3h20 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in South Ayrshire

The fully way-marked Blue Bonnet Trails follow the journey taken from Ayr Town Centre to Alloway by Tam o’ Shanter as recounted in one of the most famous poems ever written by Robert Burns. The route described below combines the 2 Blue Bonnet Trails and forms a loop. The walk passes many points of interest along the way including Burns Cottage and Alloway's famous Auld Kirk and it also passes through both Belleisle and Rozelle Parks.

Local authority
Lynn Glen Circular, Dalry
distance 1.87km Vertical gain +33m Vertical drop -32m Durée 0h40 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in North Ayshire

This short circular walk around the Caaf Water is packed with unexpected ‘fairy’ surprises hidden within a tranquil wooded glen. The gorge is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the unique and interesting rocks it contains. Perfect for families and for anyone who likes waterfalls!

For more walks, use our search engine.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.