The Ayrshire Coastal Path is essentially a practical ‘route’ rather than a formal laid-out path. Consequently – and especially in the south – it is primarily a route for well-equipped agile walkers, since many stretches along cliff-tops, up gullies, and over rough rocky shores are not suitable for cyclists, horses, or slip-on shoes.
From south to north over the sea, the ancient county of Ayrshire is 55 miles long, but its curved coastline measures 84 miles (134 km). Add in several must-see historic detours, and the Ayrshire Coastal Path runs for 100 miles.
Since it has very few steep hill climbs, it is less daunting than some other Long Distance Routes. And happily, the topography of the broad bights of Ayr and Irvine Bays, with their low-lying hinterland, provides an almost uninterrupted beach walk from Girvan to Largs – almost two-thirds of the entire route.
However, in the sections from Glenapp to Girvan, Dunure to Ayr, and north of Largs, the going can be rough but spectacular, over hill and cliff-top tracks, and rocky shores.
South of Glenapp it connects with the Mull of Galloway Trail which takes walkers to Stranraer and the Southern Upland Way, and onwards to Scotland’s most southerly point. North of Skelmorlie, the Clyde Coastal Path takes over, leading walkers onwards to the West Highland Way and our Scottish mountain wilderness.
Features on the route
- Fantastic Coastal Scenery – ever-changing vistas – especially when walking from South to North.
- Wildlife – wild flowers, 135 bird species listed in the Guide Book , seals, basking sharks, otters, roe deer, and foxes.
- Peace and Quiet – small fishing villages such as Ballantrae, Maidens, and Dunure.
- Heritage Sites: On the route itself are many superb and famous sites, from the fabulous – like Tam o Shanter’s Auld Brig o Doon near Robert Burns’s Cottage – to the factual – historic castles at Turnberry, Culzean Castle, Dunure, Greenan, Dundonald, Seagate, Ardrossan, Portencross and Kelburn – and the Maritime Museum in Irvine, and Vikingar in Largs.
Others only require a small detour – e.g. the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway; the Smugglers’ Path from Troon to Dundonald Castle; and Kilwinning Abbey. In Ayr, St John’s Tower, Cromwell’s Fort, Loudoun Hall, Lady Cathcart’s House, the Auld Kirk and the Auld Brig, are all within a few yards of the Tourist Office in Sandgate.
- Amenities – Coastal villages or towns are seldom more than five to eight miles apart – with shops, restaurants, or pubs – and no shortage of eating and toilet facilities. There are a number of caravan and camping sites at regular intervals to cater for back packers, and plenty of B&B and hotel facilities.
Click to find detailed advice on each section. Much more information is available in the Guidebook