Winter walking in Ayrshire

I’ve really missed not getting out walking as much over the past few months. This has also stopped me writing any posts. I feel I’ve nothing interesting to write about as I haven’t been on a long day’s walk or a great Scottish adventure.

Then I started thinking that even the smallest of adventures have something wonderful to share. I could be out walking for an hour or two and still capture the beauty around me in photos. I usually share photos of these shorter walks on my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter rather than writing a blog post.

I’d love to share some short winter walks over the last few months.

Loudoun hill

I’ve hiked up Loudoun Hill in Ayrshire once before on a warm sunny day in June 2015.

This day was cold and frosty. My friend came along with me as she’d never been before. We normally try to run together once a week, but our running has fallen away a little. We wanted to try something different.

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Loudoun Hill

I vaguely remembered which way to walk. I’m sure there’s another path somewhere around here. Like all the walks I explore, I always need to return to see what I’ve missed. That little cluster of trees on the left is calling me back!

The view across to this volcanic plug is just spectacular. It looks so far away, but it’s not really. Depending on what way you walk you can be at the top in half an hour.

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Picnic table at Loudoun Hill

We walked down towards the Spirit of Scotland sculpture by Richard Price.

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Spirit of Scotland Sculpture

This commemorates two battles fought at Loudoun Hill during the Wars of Independence.

  • William Wallace 1297
  • Robert the Bruce 1307

I love this sculpture and could take so many photos at different angles. You feel a real sense of sadness knowing that men fought and died here.

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Spirit of Scotland Sculpture
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Looking back at the Spirit of Scotland Sculpture

We walked down the hill and over the stile towards the bridge. It was looking rather frosty!

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Frosty bridge

After a short steep incline we reached the right-hand side of the hill. Even though it was frosty the ground wasn’t so crispy walking amongst the great trees. We walked alongside the wall and to the back of the hill before climbing.

I found out later that we should have starting climbing upwards round about here! Just past the trees above there’s more of a trodden path to follow.

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The easier way up Loudoun Hill

With a few high leg lifts over rocks and clutching at the grass, we reached the top eventually. I suppose it doesn’t really matter which way you climb, just some sections are more challenging than others!

The reward was stunningly beautiful with 360 views across Ayrshire and beyond.

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Me, my friend and her dog
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Summit of Loudoun Hill – looking west
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Summit of Loudoun Hill – looking east

We had a little bit of a panic on the way back down though. My friend lost her phone after a slip down the hill! Luckily, when I was trying to call we could hear ringing and it wasn’t too far away. Phew! My knees were really sore going up and down. I’ve been having problems with them for a wee while now.

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Loudoun Hill

After a final glance back, it was a fond farewell to the wee hill. A short hike with breathtaking views.

Straiton monument

Another friend and I met up just before Christmas and planned to sail over the sea to Arran. We met through our love of the TV series Outlander and then My Peak Challenge. I was so excited to show her the Glenashdale Falls and Giants’ Graves.

Disappointingly, that morning the ferry was cancelled due to bad weather. That didn’t stop us though. We decided we would explore locally and hike up to Straiton Monument in Ayrshire.

Now this is strange … every time we meet it rains. Honestly, bad weather is like a curse that keeps following us when we meet up to go for a walk. We only see each other a few times a year!

I remember when we walked around the Isle of Cumbrae in the pouring rain and fog. We were soaked to the skin and walked 14 miles that day. We always have a laugh about it though.

I was driving to Straiton, not really knowing the way to go in my mind. I do get a little nervous driving to places I’m not familiar with. Then out of nowhere the snow came. It was so beautiful, huge floating flakes and virgin snow right in front of my eyes. I love the snow, but driving in these conditions is more nerve-racking.

I looked at my friend and we both thought this could only happen to us. I was fine though, I took my time driving until we came to a stop. A car had skidded across the road in the snow.

Road to Straiton

We sat for a while as there was no space to get through, then a tailback of trucks and cars started to build up behind us. We couldn’t turn back and I wasn’t risking trying a three-point turn in the snow. Or maybe a nine-point turn!

Eventually one of the cars moved aside and we carried on to the village of Straiton. Yay! I parked beside the start of the hike and looked up at the monument on the hill.

At this point snow and hailstones fell from above. We both decided we’d sit for a wee while and decide what to do. We weren’t in a hurry, and the whole point of the day was to talk and catch up. I love days when I don’t need to rush to be somewhere else.

We almost moved on to drive somewhere else, then the hail and snow stopped. As I looked up at the monument on Craigengower hill I thought how wonderful it would feel to be on top of it in the snow.

We decided, let’s just do it. We could see two people at the top, looking like little stick people. If they can, we can!

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Straiton monument on the hill

It was a trudge up through the field and I felt unusually tired again. The sheep seemed happy though and looking not so white against the snow.

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Sheep in the field

The contrast of autumn colours was so pretty against the evergreen trees and snow.

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Autumn leaves and snow

We reached the entrance to the woodlands and I perked up a little.

As I turned around to look back there was my picture. A light dusting of snow with apple green from the fields peeking through. Sometimes the best views are behind you. Always remember to look back!

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Gate and view of the snowy fields

I loved these evergreen woodlands. On this day, it was like the magical Narnia with snow draped all over the trees. I half expected to find a glowing lamp-post!

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My friend walking through the trees

I tried a few times to capture some photos but my hands were so cold. The hail came back too.

Even though the woods sheltered us from most of it, drips would find a way through and land on to my camera lens! Many of my photos didn’t work out too well.

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Woodlands at Straiton

We wandered up through the snowy and boggy woodland trail until we reached a drystone wall and stile. We climbed over the stile into the open land where we started our steep but short ascent up, up and up!

We reached the top and the views were looking quite fine for five minutes. We’d planned to eat our lunch at the top but the wind and hail was determined to send us back to where we came from.

The monument was built in memory of Lieutenant-Colonel James Hunter Blair of the Scots Fusilier Guards who died at the battle of Inkerman in 1854.

Between short bursts of wind, hail and snow, I managed a few snapshots.

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Straiton Monument

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The little bump of an island Ailsa Craig can just be seen from the top. On a clearer day you would be able to see right across the ocean to the Isle of Arran too.

View from Straiton Monument

The minty green fields with a touch of orange looked so crisp and beautiful. Sounds like a bar of chocolate!

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View from Straiton Monument

We only stayed at the top for about ten minutes. This hike is part of a circular walk called The Monument and Bennan Circuit (4.5 miles/7 km). The weather was so unpredictable with the path not being obvious in the snow so we sensibly made our way back down the way we came up.

It was very slippery going back down in the snow. A sledge would have been handy and great fun. Then the hail came back again. Look how quickly the weather changed from the photo taken above about 10 minutes earlier.

I will return here though and try some of the other beautiful Straiton walks.

Dundonald woodlands and old auchans house

I have also been walking in Dundonald woodlands recently. I decided to split up a very long post about the Smugglers’ Trail in this area and included some winter photos.

See more photos in my posts Dundonald’s Ancient Woodlands and Old Auchans House.

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Smugglers’ Trail
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Old Auchans House
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Dundonald Castle

Future plans and my peak challenges

I’ve thought about my challenges for this year and hope to visit some new exciting places and share them with you. Check out my peak challenges for 2018.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story and photos. Remember to also explore what’s on your doorstep, you might surprise yourself!

Thanks for reading as always.

Love, Dawn-Marie x

30 thoughts on “Winter walking in Ayrshire

  1. Wow what beautiful photo’s! Great place to walk!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! There are so many beautiful places to walk in Ayrshire, Scotland. I’ll keep exploring! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes and keep posting your pictures!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you Diane, I will :). I’m also on Instagram where I post more often if you want to see more photos: I don’t get to blog as much as I’d like. I’ll need to check out some of your recipes. They looks so delicious!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos, wish my person could take pics like that, so … are you up for this 🙂 Black and White Photograph challenge. Today I nominate Dawn-Marie who blogs here. Dawn-Marie loves Scotland and adventures as much as I do and takes much better pictures than me or my person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Ben for nominating me and the lovely compliment about my photos 🙂 I’m still learning about photography, so I really appreciate it!

      I’ve already taken on the black and white challenge on my personal Facebook page. I would love to try and take more but I tend to write a story around my blog, rather than just posting photos.

      What I can do though, is add some winter black and white photos to my Winter Walking in Ayrshire post over the next week 🙂



      1. Thank you for taking the time to reply to a dog with a blog Dawn-Marie. That’s a great idea, they are lovely photos. There is nothing in the rules that says they have to be taken on the day or even, they have to be your own. I wish I’d thought of that I could have gone on the internet and pinched some brilliant images (free to use) that reflect my life. Older and wiser! Love Ben xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You should keep taking your own photos, you’re doing great and it means so much more and really reflects your day 👍😃

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your photo of the frosty bridge. I truly love and miss Scotland, deep in my heart. Thank you for sharing and helping me remember.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading Debra and I’m really pleased you liked my photo! I’ll need to have a read at your blog soon, I see you run! I try to run when I can, I’ve slowed down a little lately though. I hope you visit Scotland again. Have a lovely weekend 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow, another runner. I’m happy to hear that. I love connecting with runners. I’m fairly new at it, but love running in light rain and mist, so I think running in Scotland would be ideal! xo

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Running in Scotland is certainly varied 🙂 Running in the rain is refreshing as long as the wind is calm. I ran a lot last year, then slowed down a little. I’m trying to build it back up again though. It’s always difficult and very challenging. Well done on starting to run 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah yes, the wind would be challenging for sure! And hills.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Omg, hills! Great if you’re running down them though! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos and info on walks! A keen hillwalker myself I’ve stopped to have my baby but will now be focusing on buggy friendly walks or walks where you need the baby carrier! Louden hill is in my to do list! Happy walking xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Jen!

      I love that you’ll still be getting out there and walking with your little Erica strapped on. I wish I’d done that when my children were young. I wasn’t confident enough at the time. You’ll find this blog really useful. Gillian has a category for buggy friendly walks:

      Have a lovely week x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I’ve spoke to Gillian before on her Facebook page! I imagine it’ll get harder as she gets heavier but we still love Baby wearing while she’s little! X

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So lovely! You can really see why Scotland is romanticised all the time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Sophie! There are so many beautiful romantic places to see in Scotland and beyond! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes definitely! Stunning photography too 🙂 you have a good eye!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much! You’ve just made my day Sophie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your pictures are amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! I’m just glad I managed to get a few. So difficult trying to capture photos when it’s snowing … I actually dropped my camera at one point 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Heather. Winter can be cold but also so beautiful! 🙂


  7. Interesting snowy walks and great photos – love the view from the trig point on Loudon Hill, it’s stunning 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Eunice 🙂 It is a stunning view and you feel so high up even though you haven’t hiked that far at all!


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