A walk through the river Ayr gorge at
Mauchline to Wallace’s cave and
The walk can be checked on OS Landrangers sheet 70. The start grid reference is 512255.
The start point for the walk is 2 km south of Mauchline. Travelling south from Mauchline before the road crosses the
Ayr gorge at the end of the trees lining the road on the right, is a narrow turnoff. Drive down this avoiding the private
driveway on the left and park at the end of the first straight section. The parking is next to a stile on the right just
before an embankment and is obvious.
By taking the higher route beside the
wooden railings you will avoid a
dangerous section beside the river The
middle part of the walk is in scrubby
woodland with only a faint track along
the banks of Lugar water. The scrub
means the best time for the walk is
May or early June before the
undergrowth is established.
Before starting the walk proper it is
worthwhile crossing the stile, turning
left and climbing the embankment to
the right corner of the small field,
crossing the low fence to a track along
the top. From here it is possible to see
the quarry workings, descend into the
gorge to the riverside and to view the
natural sandstone cliffs.
Leave the car and cross the stile into the field. The grassy track descends gently to a stile and then in a few yards to
a little wooded bridge. Beyond the bridge the track climbs a little for about 250m until it leads below one of the
mighty arches of the railway viaduct. A little investigation here for the sure footed, just off the main path, leads to
a position directly below the main span of the viaduct with a drop to the river at your feet.
Beyond the span of the viaduct the path forks. If the river is low go to the left of the railing down to a very
pleasant leafy riverside path. If the river is high keep to the upper path. The area has hosts of bluebells in May.
The path by the river is straight for about 200m and then bends to the right with the river. At this point there is the
start of an old lade for a mill which will seen a little further on. The lade tunnels through the sandstone and its exit
will be seen as the gorge opens up into open fields.
The path becomes narrow, the river on the left, the lade on the right. The need for low water in the river will now
become apparent. The path is only easily passable if the bed of the river is exposed and even then it can be slimy
When through this little difficulty keep looking back right to catch sight of the exit of the lade tunnel from the rocks.
The gorge opens into fields as the river swings left and the track swings right passing a few houses and a farm to
reach the tarmac road. At this point a view on the large old mill can be seen above the trees. Turn left at the tarmac
road and in about 100m a view of the river can be had while crossing the road bridge.
The road bends right and rises to Braehead farm where there is a shed and then
a slurry tank on the right. Just after the slurry tank is a track to the right, turn onto this track. The track is about 1
km long it ends at a field entrance with a gorse covered area to the right across a fence.
There is now no track so follow the edge of the field, keeping the fence to the right until the gorse gives way to
scrubby woodland on a slope. There is a convenient little wooden fence next to a gate allowing access to the scrub.
The slope down to the waterside can be descended easily becoming easier as the trees thin.
The next kilometre has only a vague track and many little obstacles to negotiate before improving steadily to where
Wallace’s cave is to be found. Be sure not to hurry but enjoy the changing rock formations and the many glimpses
of the river. Peden’s cave may be seen by keeping alert and continually scanning the opposite bank.
It is not a cave so much as a recess in the rock where he could no doubt preach to a congregation with the safety of
river crossing between him and his flock.
The first obstacle is where a fence corner meets the riverside at a promontory and a tree making it impossible to
pass to the right. At this point it is necessary to cross both fences at the corner, descend a little dry stream bed
following the faint track so that the riverside can be followed.
The next more significant obstacle is a little mini gorge again with a fence crossing just before it. It is a little less
steep not far to the left of the track where it is practical to descend and then scramble up the other side, crouch and
step through the large branches of a tree to regain the track. The track will soon improve. At a low fence with a
wooden gate like structure there is the remains of an old bridge over the river. At the depression before the fence
follow the depression a few metres to the riverside to view the remains of the bridge.
Cross the fence onto an overgrown track. The next feature of interest is Walace’s cave. It is a small well
formed man made cave cut into the sandstone on a promontory above the river. The cave is difficult to
find without some knowledge or guidance. Start looking for the route to the cave where the left side of
the track clears the scrub as the fence comes in on the left with an open field beyond. On the right
toward the river is a slight mound bracken covered in summer. There are two faint tracks 10m apart
leading onto the mound. By walking toward the river along either of these tracks, it is possible to pick
up a better track at the edge of the gorge leading right down hill to Wallace’s cave. The cave can be
viewed after a little set of stairs carved into the cliff face is negotiated. With care it is just practical to
scramble across the gully and enter the cave measuring about 15 feet square.