Responsible Access and Safety

All persons using the Ayrshire Coastal Path do so at their own risk and are expected to take responsibility for their own actions, the safety of themselves and their companions, the welfare of livestock and wildlife, and the avoidance of damage to crops in the land through which they must pass – as laid down in the recommendations of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which followed on the Scottish Land Reform Act of 2003.

 While the Ayr Rotary Coastal Path Management Group takes care to ensure that the established path route is as safe as possible under the constraints imposed by landowners, our function has been simply to facilitate the setting up of this long-distance route. Therefore the Ayr Rotary Coastal Path Management Group and the Rotary Club of Ayr cannot accept responsibility for any accident or injury sustained by walkers using the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Our agreements with all landowners are of an informal nature, based mainly on goodwill and the mutual benefits to both proprietors and walkers of having an easily defined route across working farms and estates, which minimises risk of disturbance to livestock and crops, and risks to the safety of walkers.

All walkers should have read the SOAC leaflet ‘Know the Code before you go’.


  • Dwellings: Please respect people’s privacy and peace of mind. When passing close to farm dwellings or houses, do so quietly and quickly with a minimum of fuss.
  • Gates: Leave field gates as you find them, whether open or closed. Kissing gates next to most field gates on the Path are for your convenience. Keep these gates chained to prevent escape of sheep and lambs.
  • Dogs: Dogs cause cattle to act in a protective and aggressive manner. They should be kept on a very short lead – and if possible, led through an adjacent field away from large animals. If animals become aggressive, let dog off lead and make your own way calmly to safety. If planning a walk in areas with livestock, best leave your dogs at home.
  • Livestock: Take great care before entering a field of livestock. Look out for a bull with the cows. Cows with young calves are just as dangerous as bulls, (especially with dogs). Never get between a cow and its calf.
    NB: The hill areas from Glenapp to Girvan, between Culzean and Ayr, and north of Largs, are most sensitive to disturbance. Here we recommend that all dogs be left at home.
  • Lambing: On the coast, lambing occurs from January to early May, and we ask walkers to avoid disturbing fields where lambing is taking place.
    NB: The hill areas from Glenapp to Girvan, between Culzean and Ayr, and north of Largs, are most sensitive to disturbance. We recommend that all dogs be left at home – but if not, they must be controlled on a close lead at all times.
  • Large Groups: Large numbers of noisy, brightly-clad walkers will spook livestock and wildlife, and it is debatable whether a group of 30-40 people really conforms to the concept of ‘Responsible Access’. The ideal number is probably 3-4 people, but this is not always practicable. In the South, to avoid disturbance, walk leaders might wish to split up large parties into groups of six or less, moving off at staggered intervals. North of Ayr, there is no great problem till above Largs, when the same advice would apply.
  • Kit: Walkers should plan their trip properly, and be well shod for the terrain. Trainers or slip-on shoes may be OK for northern promenades and sandy shores, but walking boots are essential south of Ayr. Walking poles are advised for balance over slippery shore rocks.
  • Weather: The Ayrshire coastline is beautiful in sunshine, but very exposed in foul weather.  Wind and waterproof clothes should be carried if there is a prospect of rain.  Check MetOffice weather for precise local Met Office forecasts.
  • Tides: In the South Section, at several points marked on our Guide Book maps, you may be delayed for 1-4 hours by a rising tide on a few days around High Spring Tide. Simple and careful planning will avoid unnecessary delays. Packing a pair of plimsolls would allow easy wading.
    NB: HSTs occur at two week intervals (at New and Full Moons) and peak around mid-day. In late Autumn and Winter they are much higher than in Summer months (when there is no real problem). Check tidal information for Ayr on the Web at Easytide – and the important details contained in the Guide Book. Click here to view the tidal predictions for Ayr.
  • Breeding Shorebirds: From May to July along narrow foreshore strips, walkers should walk on sand below the tide-mark where possible – to avoid trampling nest sites on shingle patches above high water mark. This will greatly reduce the risk of accidentally crushing camouflaged eggs and the young chicks of nesting oystercatchers and ringed plovers.
    Lookout for breeding birds running silently down the beach from the shingle and away from their nests. If they are calling all around, you are too close! So watch your feet for tiny chicks!
  • Litter:  Over the past ten years, the annual Spring Rotary Beach Clean by the Rotary Clubs of Ayr, Alloway, Prestwick, Troon and Girvan – plus hundreds of willing volunteers – has removed a total of 7400 bags of rubbish from nineteen miles of beaches from Girvan to Troon. Without this superb effort, Coastal Path walkers might still be crunching through drifts of plastic bags and drinks bottles (75% of the annual litter) – completely destroying any enjoyment of the magnificent scenery around them.

On most of the kissing gates along the route, walkers on the Path will find this wee verse to encourage them to help us to protect the environment.

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