Dismantled Railway Walk, Darvel

A linear walk from the village of Darvel along a fantastic disused railway track to the Spirit of Scotland Monument beneath Loudoun Hill.

Technical sheet
No. 21775950
A East Ayrshire walk posted on 09/05/22 by Gillian's Walks. Update : 10/05/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h35[?]
Distance Distance : 11.13km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 151m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 147m
Highest point Highest point : 232m
Lowest point Lowest point : 103m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : East Ayrshire
Starting point Starting point : N 55.609493° / W 4.282557°
Download : -
Spirit of Scotland Monument Viaduct Old Railway Path Surface Start of Old Railway Path


(D/A) Hastings Square, Darvel (KA17 0DR)

From Hastings Square cross Darvel Main Street and turn right (East) to walk along the pavement for 1km.

Turn onto the last road on your left (North East) at the end of the village. This minor road heads uphill past a couple of houses.

(1) Look out for an Irvine Valley Paths Network way marker 150m along on your right-hand side, "Loudoun Hill via the old railway". Go through the gate and follow the old railway path East for approx 3km. The path ends abruptly at the remains of the old viaduct.

(2) Follow the steps downhill to a stone wall which has a large boulder placed at the foot of it acting like a stile. Climb over onto a minor road.

Turn right (South) here towards a cottage then left (East) to follow the Irvine Valley Paths Network signage for Loudoun Hill. Continue uphill along this road for 300m to pass Newlands Farm.

(3) 340m beyond Newlands you will reach a gate on your right-hand side. Go through the gate and follow the farm tracks South East then East along a tree-lined track, skirting the base of Loudoun Hill. You will pass a stone ruin on your right and the steep rocky slope of Loudoun Hill will be on your left.

(4) After 720m you will have come round the foot of Loudoun Hill beyond the steep rocky slope. Where the ground to your right flattens out, veer right (South) off the track to cross the grass.

(5) You will meet up with a faint path (not shown on map) which zig zags down to a wooden footbridge across the infant River Irvine. Cross the bridge and follow the path up to a stile.

(6) From here the Spirit of Scotland monument is clearly visible just ahead. After crossing the stile follow an obvious path up to the monument.

Retrace your steps to return to Hastings Square, Darvel (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 103m - Hastings Square
1 : km 1.09 - alt. 122m - Gate and way marker "Loudoun Hill via old railway"
2 : km 3.88 - alt. 163m - Wall at viaduct
3 : km 4.53 - alt. 220m - Gate
4 : km 5.28 - alt. 227m - Flat ground to the right
5 : km 5.49 - alt. 202m - Bridge
6 : km 5.56 - alt. 207m - Spirit of Scotland Monument
D/A : km 11.13 - alt. 103m - Hastings Square

Useful Information


  • By car: There are a few parking spaces at Hastings Square in Darvel and also some on-street parking. Alternatively you could choose to park in the public car park on Randoldcoup Road (first right after Hastings Square) which is just a short walk from the start. There is also a small car park just uphill from the Spirit of Scotland Monument (Signposted off A71 as "Loudoun Hill Parking"), so you could arrange for transport to meet you there if you don't want to walk back to Darvel.
  • By bus: There is a frequent bus service through the Irvine Valley from Kilmarnock which stops in Darvel at Hastings Square. No return bus service from Spirit of Scotland monument.

Accessibility / Terrain

  • The first 1km of the walk through Darvel to the start of the old railway path (1) is a mix of pavements and a minor road. The minor road section is short but a fairly steep incline.
  • The old railway path between Darvel and the viaduct (2) was upgraded in Winter 2021/22. For the first approx 1.3km of it the surface is gravel and level. There are 4 metal gates to pass through within that distance and on reaching gate number 5 (at the 1.3km mark), you are required to cross a rough, boggy farm track to reach gate number 6 and the continuation of the gravel track. The gravel ends again 500m further along where there is a dog-friendly stile. Beyond that the surface is a mixture of grass and gravel with a further 2 stiles and 4 metal gates. Two of these stiles are dog-friendly and one is a ladder stile which might not be suitable for some dogs.
  • From the viaduct (2) to the Spirit of Scotland monument (A) the path is a mixture of farm tracks (uneven, sometimes muddy), grass and earth. Some short steep slopes both up and downhill. One set of steps, a small wall to climb, several gates and a stile.


  • After the third gate (approx 800m along) and until you reach the sixth gate (approx 1.3km along) you can often find cows sharing the path in places, including bulls (and sometimes calves).
  • There are often sheep (and sometimes lambs) on the first section of the farm track north of Newlands (3)

For more information, a route guide onto Loudoun Hill and a walk review, visit Gillian's Walks

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

  • Darvel war memorial - located in Hastings Square at the start of the walk
  • Loudoun Hill - the highest point in the area at 361m. It is a volcanic plug and it's craggy south face is often used by rock climbers.
  • Battle of Loudoun Hill - It is reputed that in 1307 Robert the Bruce led an army against the English in a battle which took place beneath Loudoun Hill. This was Bruce's his first major military victory.
  • Spirit of Scotland monument - a 5m tall person-shaped sculpture at the foot of Loudoun Hill which bears words referring to William Wallace
  • Dismantled railway line - part of the Darvel and Strathaven Railway, opened in 1905 intended as a through route between Lanarkshire and Ayrshire however was never successful due to the population in the area being very low. The track was closed in 1939.
  • Valley Walkfest is a walking festival in the Irvine Valley which takes place annually at the start of May

Other walks in the area

Local authority
Catrine to Sorn Loop
distance 7.59km Vertical gain +91m Vertical drop -91m Durée 2h25 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in East Ayrshire

Follow the River Ayr along a pleasant woodland trail to Sorn, passing through Catrine Voes Local Nature Reserve and alongside the historic Catrine Weir. On reaching Sorn, cross the humpbacked ‘Auld Brig’ before passing through part of the village and into the “Spooky Woods”. The return route to Catrine is via Chapel Brae, a pleasant single track road which passes Catrine War Memorial.

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
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
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
Duncarnock Fort (The Craigie) from Neilston
distance 7.78km Vertical gain +84m Vertical drop -87m Durée 2h30 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in East Renfrewshire

Duncarnock Fort (known locally as The Craigie) is a craggy hill (204 m / 669 ft) which stands invitingly on the banks of Glanderston Dam. Pausing on the summit of what was formerly an iron age fort, take a moment to wonder about it’s history and all that may have happened here many years ago! On a clear day, just as Mary Queen of Scots is rumoured to have done, you will enjoy panoramic views over greater Glasgow extending to the Campsies in the north.

For more walks, use our search engine.

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