Hiking the Ayrshire Coastal Path

The  Ayrshire Coastal Path stretches for over 161 kms long, and is one of the most preferred hiking trails in Scotland. This multi-day coastal hike comes with the risks of varying terrains and changing weather, but the picturesque coastal views, the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains on the Isle of Arran and the historic landmarks all along the hike makes it worthwhile.

This article outlines the trekking routes along the Ayrshire Coastal Path. You can plan the hike based on the number of days you have at hand, accordingly. 

Hiking the Ayrshire Coastal Path - The Route

1. Glenapp Kirk to Ballantrae

Route

The hike begins at the Glenapp Kirk, from where an uphill walk from the opposite estate joins the Sandloch Hill track. 

Glenapp Kirk

Glenapp Kirk

As soon as you join the track, you begin to see coastal views of Ayrshire. Along the trail, you then pass through a plateau with standing stones and earthworks -  the Glendrisaig farm.  

Keeping right along the farm takes you to a road to High Ballochdowan from where you make you way down to Low Ballochdowan, passing the Kilintringan Bridge in between. An hour of hike from here takes you to Garleffin. Soon after, you see the Stinchar Road Bridge, and it tells you that you have arrived at the Ballantrae Harbour.

Ballantrae Harbour

Ballantrae Harbour


Total Distance -
 15 kms

Time Taken - 3.5 to 4 hours

Difficulty Level - Moderate

2. Ballantrae to Lendalfoot

Route

The Ballantrae Harbour was once a thriving port, and the hike from here is a 3 kms easy walk in the sandy beaches of Ballantrae. All through the walk, you can spot the island of Ailsa Craig parallel to you. 

Grey seals at Lendalfoot

View of Ailsa Craig Island

At the end of this beach hike, you arrive at Bennane from where you just need to follow along the A77 road.

You reach the Carleton Bay, which is also a viewpoint overlooking Balcreuchan Port. You could rest up for a bit here and spend some time enjoying the scenic views.  

The next pitstop is the Varyag Monument which has a bronze memorial dedicated to the Russian battle cruiser Varyag during the Russian-Japanese war. From the Varyag, you are only 1 km away from Lendalfoot. Stop by the Carleton Castle on the way and enjoy its magnificence. 

Total Distance - 10 kms

Time Taken - 3.5 to 4 hours

Difficulty Level -  Moderate to Difficult 

3. Lendalfoot to Girvan

Route

Take north from Lendalfoot, and hike up till you reach the Pinbain Hill. The path is not well laid out and is through sand and big rocks, but the views from the Pinbain Hill are very scenic.

From the Pinbain hill, continue uphill in the Old coach road which takes you to the top of the hill shortly. You then descend down to the Ardwell Bay and the Woodland Bay, where you could go for a swim in the sea. After a short break here, you reach the car parking at the Girvan Promenade.

Girvan

View along the way to Girvan

Total Distance - 10.5 kms

Time Taken - 3 to 3.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Moderate to Difficult 

4. Girvan to Maidens

Route

The route from Girvan Harbour to Maidens runs mostly along the shoreline of sand and rocks. The hike starts at the harbour with the river to your left, and takes you through the Girvan Town Centre. From here, you cross the Harbour Road Bridge and as you press on your hike, the route takes you to the Harbour Point.

Continue uphill along the Golf Course Road to reach the Girvan Mains. A quick descent from here arrives at the Dipple Shore, from where you can enjoy the beaches. An interesting landmark awaits you a little further down the road - Turnberry Golf Course, which is world-famous! Following the path along the fairways takes you to the Maidens.

Turnberry Golf Course

Total Distance - 13.25 kms

Time Taken - 3.5 to 4 hours

Difficulty Level - Moderate to Difficult 

5. Maidens to Dunure

Route

Starting from Maidens Bay, the initial part of the trail is a breezy walk on the sandy beaches of the bay. An uphill climb into the Culzean Castle & Country park shortly takes you to the Swan Pond. The clifftop views here are excellent and you shouldn’t miss watching them.

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

Follow the Cliff walk to get past Culzean Castle, and then descend towards the beaches of the Culzean Bay. From the Bay, a grassy footpath takes you uphill and downhill onto the village of Dunure. 

Total Distance - 10.25 kms

Time Taken - 4 to 4.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy to Moderate

6. Dunure to Ayr

Route

The hike from Dunure to Ayr begins at the Dunure harbour, and across the beach of the village. The pathway goes uphill in a rocky terrain which leads into a farmland. After you cross the farmland, you make your way down to the Bracken Bay. 

Dunure Harbour

Dunure Harbour

Make your way till the end of the Bracken beach to see panoramic views of the Ayr town.  On the way to Ayr from here, you come across a lot of historic landmarks such as Doonfoot Bridge, Craig Tara caravan park and the Greenan Castle. Follow the coastline that takes you beneath the castle, and onto the sandy beach. Half a mile from here, you arrive at Ayr. 

Total Distance - 11.75 kms

Time Taken - 4.5 to 5 hours

Difficulty Level - Moderate to Difficult 

7. Ayr to Troon Harbour

Route

Start your hike from the car parking at Ayr, and head north towards the River Ayr. Shortly, you pass through the High Street and then onto the Pebbles Street. From there, make you way down to Saltpans Road onto the Prestwick Promenade. The path hereafter is past the  Prestwick Holiday Park and the Royal Troon Golf Course to Troon South Sands. In 3kms from Troon South Sands, you reach the Troon Harbour.

Troon seafront

Troon seafront

Total Distance - 15.25 kms

Time Taken - 4.5 to 5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy

8. Troon Harbour to Irvine

Route

There are two routes from Trook Harbour to Irvine. The easy route is the direct beach route that starts at Troon Harbour and passes through Barassie, all the way along the North Shore Road. Most of the hike is on grassy terrains. The next 4 kms is an easy walk along the Irvine Beach, after which you proceed from the Harbour Street to the Montgomery Street. As you follow the pavement, you reach the River Irvine, and that’s where this part of the trek ends.  

River Irvine

River Irvine

The second route is the longer one, an Inland Detour that goes via the The Smugglers’ Trail  and Dundonald, towards Irvine.

Total Distance - 11 kms

Time Taken - 3 to 3.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy

9. Irvine to Ardrossan

Route

This is an easy Inland route that begins at Low Green in Irvine. Shortly after the hike, you pass through the Garnock Floods Wildlife Reserve to Byrehill Road, which later becoming Dubbs Road. From here, you need to follow the B752 to Ardeer Park and onto Shore Road till you reach the beach and the Stevenston Beach Park soon after. 

Saltcoats Beach

At the end of the Stevenston Beach, a promenade takes you to Saltcoats Harbour.  As you walk along the Saltcoats South Beach Esplanade, the end of the beach brings you to the Ardrossan Cross.

Total Distance - 14.75 kms

Time Taken - 4 to 4.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy to Moderate

10. Ardrossan to Portencross

Route

The route from  Ardrossan to Portencross is a rather simple one. It starts at Ardrossan Harbour and Marina, and makes it way down to the North Beach. As you hike along a grassy footpath, you come across the Kilbride Burn Bridge, which after crossing will take you along the Seamill. 

The Arran Ferry leaving from Ardrossan Harbour

The Arran Ferry leaving from Ardrossan Harbour

 When the path comes to an end, follow the earth path to reach Portencross.

Total Distance - 10.5 kms

Time Taken - 3 to 3.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy

11. Portencross to Largs

Route

Starting from the car parking at Portencross, make your way along the Portencross castle until you cross the Three Sisters. Soon after, you reach the grounds of the Hunterston Nuclear Power Station. Continue along the power station for 3.5 kms which then joins the A78 road.

Hunterston A Nuclear Power Station

Hunterston A Nuclear Power Station

Hiking along the road takes you to the Fairlie Shore Path which then arrives at the Fairlie Church. After you cross the church, join the A78 road again and walk along the Cycle Path. The Cycle Track ends at Largs Yacht Haven.

Total Distance - 11.25 kms

Time Taken - 3.5 to 4.5 hours

Difficulty Level - Easy

12. Largs to Kelly Burn

Route

The final leg of the hike in the coastal path begins at the Pencil, at Largs and then proceeds towards the Largs Seafront. Continuing along the seafront takes you the Largs Pier and then to Vikingar.

Largs Seafront

Largs Seafront

Take the Low Road along Routenburn Road and continue your hike till you reach the Knock castle. After you reach this point, hike a little further to Meiglem and then join the A78 road. From here, you would cross the Skelmorlie Bridge and then the castle. As you make your way up from the Red ROad to Skelmorlie, you reach Kelly Burn. 

Total Distance - 12 kms

Time Taken - 3.5 to 4 hours

Difficulty Level - Moderate

What you need to know before the hike

  • Fitness is a key element, and make sure you warm up yourself before taking up this  multi-day hike.
  • The entire route has variable terrains and high tides can also be predicted at times. Make sure to be mentally prepared for them, and also have proper hiking boots and backpacks in place.
  • Make sure to have this Guide Book at hand before you start your hike - Ayrshire Coastal Path: The Official Guide Book.
  • It is easy to spot wildlife while on the hike, if you keep your walk silent. 

Conclusion

So, that is it for the article guys. I hope this article helped you with the important details you  need to know before hiking the Ayrshire Coastal Path.  

The distance might seem a bit too much, but every step of the hike is worth it. The beautiful views you get to enjoy all along, makeup for all the hardship.

Have you hiked the Ayrshire Coastal Path before? Or are you planning a hike here real soon? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear our experiences!

Mark Bennett
 

I have a serious thing for travel, outdoors and wilderness. I grew up in Oregon and camping outdoors with my father was one of the fondest memories of childhood. I enjoy camping and hiking and love to share what I've learnt over these years.