Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A free family fun day in East Ayrshire

We were nipping into Kilmarnock yesterday, do a few bits and pieces. While we ere there we decided to do dome geocaching ( yes I know I'm addicted and boring, but bear with me).

Decided we would go and do the Robert Burns trail at the Dean Park. We use to take the children here when they were young, use to walk shorty dog here, but have not been for years. I had forgotten just how much the park has to offer to families, the different types of activity to do, and its ALL FREE. So as the school holidays will be here before the end of the month I just thought I would share this with you if you are looking for something to do with the children over the holidays.

What is Dean Castle Country Park? 

Dean Castle Country Park is a fantastic free day out for all the family. The country park, covering over 200 acres, is nestled in the heart of Kilmarnock and offers something for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
The Country Park boasts beautiful woodland walks, an adventure playground, urban farm, visitor centre, tearoom, shop and a fantastic 14th century castle housing world class collections including historic weapons, armour and musical instruments. 

The page splits the park into four topics,

the countryside,

  • These include a bird trail which encourages you to identify birds using their calls
  • We have also updated our orienteering trail for those of you who would like to learn more about reading maps
  • set up a photographers’ trail with hints and tips for taking great wildlife photos
  • A Sharing Nature Trail has also been established based on the principles of Earth Education to promote the natural world to young children.

an activity to do

getting them appreciating nature

various information signs 


  • you can discover the history of the whole estate by taking a walk along the History Trail 
  • appreciate the formal gardens,
  • the Pinetum which dates back to 1918
  • the newly planted arboretum,
  • fallow deer park 
  • and the Motte and Bailey, which is claimed to be the site of the original Kilmarnock Castle.

signs along the way 

colour marked trails 

sights along the way

The Castle

  • The 8th Lord Howard de Walden (Thomas Evelyn Ellis) inherited the castle in 1901 and spent many years restoring the castle after it suffered over two centuries of neglect after being gutted by fire in 1735.
  • Lord Howard De Walden collected some of the country’s finest collections of swords, weapons and armour which are now housed within Dean Castle.
  • He was married to Margherita Van Raalte, who is responsible for the finest collection of historical musical instruments anywhere in Europe.

through the trees

The Urban farm

  • We have welcomed to the farm some new pygmy goats and 3 llamas full of personality
  • In our first year of the breeding programme we successfully reared 5 lambs and 5 fallow deer and an array of small animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, geese and chickens. 
  • We also welcomed young llamas, known as criars, kune kune piglets and fallow deer fawns 

the picnic area next to the play park
 The play parks look brilliant, different areas with different sizes equipment in for children of all ages. No photos as they were full of children, none of which were with me, so didn't seem appropriate

the pigs

the quarry pond sign

the deers sleeping in the sun.

We walked five miles whilst geocaching round the park, you could have done some without doing all the trail.

If you have never tried geocaching before but fancy giving it a try - look this bit really excites me, and when we take the children there over the summer we are going to enquire about this - 
We also have GPS units for hire to help with the 
Dean Castle Country Park Geocaching Trail. 
Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt game 
and if you haven’t tried it before, this is a great 
trail to give you the buzz.
not sure if you pay to hire them, but will find out later and let you know.

The reply I received says

We hire the GPS units for £5. This covers you for the day. Although for security, we do ask for proof of identity and contact details
So why not go give it a try, even at £5 it is a very reasonable priced day out with hours of things to do. If you are planning to do this route with a buggy then yopu may need a second adult to stand with the buggy as some of them are ten or twelve feet off the pathway.

Some random pictures of other things that appealed whilst there.

we picked up a travel bug

on the gates at a cottage

a random pile of logs

the sign made me laugh

on the back of a bench with memorial trees in the background

and some of them were very steep

All in all a great day out with lots to appeal to every age group. It was busy yesterday with a lot of grandparents out with the children.


  1. Love Dean Castle park but never done Geocaching before. Looks great fun x

  2. Look like a great place - actively encouraging geocaching gets big bonus points too ! :)


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