Walk 3 : Lochwinnoch to Kilwinning : 13 miles
Bird enthusiasts may wish to start their walk at the RSPB reserve at Lochwinnoch, to see swans, widgeons, ducks and grebes. The route proceeds again on National Cycle Route 7, but at Kilbirnie, a diversion into the centre of the village is well worth the effort, to see (check opening times) the Auld Kirk of Kilbirnie, which is remarkable for its carved oak loft dating from the very early 18th Century. Some tombstones in the graveyard are well worth investigating – like the 16th Century Crawfurds’ tomb and the reputed grave of a warlock. Robert Burns came here to a horse fair. Crossing the railway line into open countryside, there is a pleasant diversion into the Blair Estate (not for cyclists), before you begin to glimpse Kilwinning and the towers of its Abbey. The Abbey was colonised by Tironensian monks from Kelso and dates from about 1100. Though ruined now, you can visit its heritage centre, ascend the tower for bird’s eye views of the abbey grounds and learn some interesting facts about an ancient tradition of archery still continued here, and Kilwinninig’s connections with freemasonry.
This section includes some flat sections of cycle track, village centre walking in Kilbirnie, and some steeper sections as you progress towards Kilwinning. There is parkland at the Blair Estate and a busy town centre at Kilwinning. Refreshments can be found at Lochwinnoch Visitor Centre and RSPB reserve, and in Kilwinning.
Illustrative maps courtesy of David Langworth, Cartographer
Detailed walking instructions can be purchased from www.whithornway.org