It is on the doorstep for a large chunk of Scotland’s population yet arguably one of our least known Great Trails. Step forward Jimmy Begg who introduces you to The Ayrshire Coastal Path, a route that takes in 161 km (100 miles) of fabulous coastal scenery.
Now well established and very popular, the Ayrshire Coastal Path was created by the Rotary Club of Ayr to mark the 2005 Centenary of Rotary International. Completed in just four years, it was officially launched on 28 June 2008.
In 2010 it was selected by Scottish Natural Heritage and Visit Scotland as one of Scotland’s Great Trails; and also invited by the International Appalachian Trail (Canada) to become a vital link in their newly launched IAT Europe.
Primarily a walkers’ route, you will tramp the native heath of Scotland’s three greatest heroes – Burns, Bruce and Wallace – over a land steeped in history, and teeming with wildlife.
Thanks to its great diversity of habitat, wildlife is prolific, but is best seen – as always – if yours is a small quiet group with muted voices and clothing. Our best-selling, official Guide Book lists over 130 species of bird, and your chances of seeing seals, seabirds, birds of prey, roe deer and foxes are good, whilst the more elusive otter is harder to spot. Likewise, if a sharp-eyed walker, you may occasionally see the great triangular dorsal fins of slowly cruising basking sharks, not far offshore, on a calm summer day.
Dominated by the iconic silhouettes of Ailsa Craig and Arran, the Ayrshire Coastal Path – with its historic detours – runs along one of the finest panoramic coastlines in the British Isles for 100 miles (161km). From the southern to northern boundaries of our county, you’ll experience a walk of amazing contrasts.
From the wild cliffs of Glenapp to the sands of Ayr and Ardrossan, the ever-changing perspectives of ‘The Craig’ and ‘The Sleeping Warrior’ provide a feast for both eye and camera, as you are drawn slowly northwards towards the sheltered waters of Largs and Skelmorlie and the upper Firth of Clyde.
In the south, as well as relaxing strolls along superb sandy strands, you’ll find plenty of demanding walking in remote countryside; and more centrally, a smattering of industrial and urban sections. But it’s that urban proximity which makes our Path so accessible. We designed it as a short stage, eco-friendly linear walk, running parallel to excellent bus and rail links for most of the way, thus giving you the choice of public transport and/or car.
With the sun and prevailing wind on your backs, you will find northbound walking more enjoyable – as you travel from Glenapp to Ayr through the land of Wallace, Bruce and Burns; along wild cliff-top tracks, old turnpike roads and rough and sandy beaches; past ruined castles, hill forts, and small fishing villages; by Turnberry’s Open Championship golf course and Culzean Castle. And then onwards to Alloway and Robert Burns’s Cottage and Birthplace Museum. From Ayr to Irvine, you’ll find the going gentle along sandy beaches past Prestwick – birthplace of the Open Golf Championship – and its successor, Royal Troon, From Ardrossan to Largs, sailing yachts now glide calm seas once scoured by fearsome Viking longships. And finally from Knock Hill above Largs, you will soak in the magnificent panorama of the Upper Firth and Cowal Hills to the west and north, while in the far blue distance to the south, Ailsa Craig and Arran bid you a fond farewell.
The Ayrshire Coastal Path is managed entirely by the Rotary Club of Ayr, and maintained by a dedicated group of volunteer ‘Pathminders’.
You can find out more on our website http://www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org
Inspired by the work of Ayr Rotary, in 2012 the Rotary Club of Stranraer developed the Mull of Galloway Trail to link with the Ayrshire Coastal Path at Glenapp. In the north, in 2015, Gourock and Allander Rotary Clubs formed the Clyde Coastal Path from Wemyss Bay over Clyde Muirshiel Park to Erskine Bridge and on to Milngavie and the West Highland Way. These three autonomous routes now collectively form the Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail, the southernmost section of International Appalachian Trail Scotland, which runs from Mull of Galloway to Cape Wrath.
Access Information : Well signposted throughout, with short stages of 6-10 miles between the villages and towns en route, access is very easy by bus, train and car. Web links with bus, train, air and ferry services – and accommodation details – are available on the Official Path Website – www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org.
Use of the Ayrshire Coastal Path Official Guide Book in conjunction with the website is a huge help, especially south of Ayr where there are a number of short sections affected by high tides. Both Guide Book and Website contain important Tide information. The Guide Book, written by Dr Jimmy Begg, is not simply a step-by-step route-marker; it is also a celebration of the history, the geography, social development and natural history of the Ayrshire Coast. Launched in May 2008, it is now a best-seller, with over 5500 copies sold and over £40,000 raised for Rotary Overseas Charities and has been reprinted. With all proceeds going to Charity, it is available through the Path Website, and many local outlets and bookshops.
The Ayrshire Coastal Path in numbers …
Distance 161 kms – 100 miles
Approx Time 5-10 days
Height Gain 800 metres
OS MapsExplorer 317, 326, (333), 341