Walk 38 – Ayrshire Coastal Path: Dunure to Ayr (6.7 miles)

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This is an incredible walk along one of the most rugged sections of the Ayrshire Coast. You will experience varied terrain including beaches, rocky outcrops, grassy farmland and a disused railway.  Prepare yourself for stunning views and a unique sense of remoteness.

**It is important to check tide times before setting off on this walk**

  Parking available at Kennedy Park, Dunure (chargeable, seasonal) and at Seafield, Ayr (free). Bus services between Dunure and Ayr. Train services to Ayr. Suggest starting in Ayr, taking the bus to Dunure then walking back.

route image  Route:  Start by walking East then North around Dunure harbour and across the village’s sandy beach. At the north end of the beach you will see a narrow path going up through a gap in the rocks – follow this to a gate. Beyond the gate the path leads away from the beach, up onto a grassy embankment and winds in and out of the hillside on a faint footpath across the grassy farmland to arrive at a stile. Cross the stile then a small footbridge and continue along the path, to the brow of a hill. At the other side of the hill is a gully – follow the path down the gully and onto the rocky coastline. Pick your way through the rocks and pebbles, enjoying the stunning views as you go. At the far end of the beach the path leads uphill by way of some steps built into the steep Fisherton Gully. At the top of the gully go through a kissing gate onto a field. Turn left (North) to follow the field edge around to another kissing gate and into a second field. At the other side of this field is a kissing gate leading onto a disused railway line. Walk along the disused railway line for 1km, enjoying spectacular views down onto Bracken Bay where you are headed next. When you reach a caravan park, follow the path East along the edge of a field with a row of caravans on your right-hand side. On reaching some farm tracks, turn left (North) to follow them between two fields. Keep left (West) at a fork 200m along, descending onto Bracken Bay. Turn right (North East) to walk along the beach. As you reach the north end 500m along, you will go around a rocky outcrop called Heads of Ayr. Follow the coastline for 3km, passing beneath Heads of Ayr Caravan Park and arriving at the foot of Greenan Castle. 1km further along the beach look out for a path on your right-hand side going across the dunes to a car park. Pass through the car park and cross the footbridge over the River Doon. After crossing the bridge, continue ahead (North), to follow Ayr esplanade for 1km to reach the car park at Seafield, just opposite Cafe India.

ACP_Dunure to Ayr

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Having walked the whole 100 miles of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, this section is one I keep coming back to. I simply love it’s rugged beauty and the feeling of remoteness I get during it. To some degree you are at the mercy of Mother Nature since it is the type of walk on which there is little option for bailing out should conditions become less than favourable and there are several tidal stretches which become impassable at a high tide. It is definitely a walk best left for a dry day, preferably with clear visibility to make the most of the stunning views. Most definitely a walk which I would put into the challenging category thanks to the terrain involved; sturdy footwear is a must.

There are public toilets in Dunure at Kennedy Park which I recommend using before you set off (I believe they have won an award in the past!) There are none on the route.

Look out for cows (sometimes ON the path near Fisherton), sheep & lambs (particularly along the disused railway), rabbits, pheasants and tons of seabirds!

Enjoy my photo tour below!

View looking back onto the village of Dunure with it’s harbour and Castle ruins. I love the yellow flowering gorse bush which you find all along the route, in bloom from April to late May
This part of the coastline is very rugged, one of the things I love about it!!
At the end of the old railway you are rewarded with this stunning view down into Bracken Bay where you will soon set foot! This is a photo taken on my first attempt at the walk. As you can see the tide is well out. On my most recent time here high tide was only 2 hrs away and the water appeared to be right up to the rocky outcrop on the far left. This is where I started to panic a little and the race against the tide began! Once down on Bracken Bay things weren’t as advanced as they had seemed from this high vantage point. I breathed a sigh of relief but plodded on nonetheless. Not a place you would want to be stranded, beautiful as it is!
Some friendly lambs stood a while to pose for me the first time I did the walk in early Spring of 2016. You will find loads of sheep along the far end of the disused railway line year-round; judging by the state of the grass up there they appear to use it as a toilet :-o
The first glimpse Ayr on the left and you can just make out the tiny silhouette of Greenan Castle in the centre of the photo. As you can see some of the coastal sections require careful footwork and they can be slow-going depending on how confident you are on this type of terrain. The second time I was walking the route was at the end of a 25 mile day (from Girvan in the South) with the sun setting fast and I literally hopped across the rocks like a kangaroo to make sure I wasn’t stuck out here in the dark! Just around the bend here is Craig Tara Caravan Park where the beach is sandy all the way along to the castle; much easier to cross.
Looking back towards the Heads of Ayr. I was fortunate the tide was well out so I could chop a bit of mileage off by cutting across the beach rather than following the edge of the coastline. At a high tide this whole area would be covered.
The remains of 16th century Greenan Castle. It is possible to walk right up to the castle walls, from where the view is simply spectacular. If you wish to do this you will find the path on your right just before passing beneath it. Highly recommended! From here it is not long before you are making your way along the concrete esplanade between Doonfoot and Ayr!
Me on the Esplanade in Ayr looking very pleased with myself at the end of a 25 mile hike from Girvan in the South. This was taken in April 2017 when I walked the entire Ayrshire Coastal Path in aid of the Mark McCloskey Foundation (hence the purple t-shirt!). Apart from being physically exhausted at this point (day 2 of the 100 mile hike), I was also super relieved to have made it to Ayr before sunset….  Having arrived in Dunure at 6pm I knew I still had these final, very challenging 7 miles to walk and only 2 hours before sunset! To say I was concerned is an understatement! I made it, but it is not something I would like to repeat anytime soon! The walk yes (absolutely!)….. the pace I had to do it in – no! I would recommend allowing 3.5hrs to 4hrs to complete it at a leisurely pace and really enjoy the scenery.

Go to: next section Ayr to Troon
Go to: previous section Maidens to Dunure
Go to: full Ayrshire Coastal Path review

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8 thoughts on “Walk 38 – Ayrshire Coastal Path: Dunure to Ayr (6.7 miles)

  1. That’s still a fair distance going from Ayr to Dunure and back – it is difficult terrain, especially if you are staying down on the rocky foreshore! I hope you enjoyed your walk at Girvan too.


  2. Hello again Gillian I have only just seen this reply since I first posted the comment last year. Thanks. I was was just thinking about walking from Maidens up to Ayr in the next few days but I know the train goes to Girvan so that makes sense starting from there really. I live in Ayr & I love walking up to Dunure but all along the coast rather than the pathway. Craiglowmount between Bracken Bay & Dunure is amazing, some of the best coastline in the UK I reckon & I’ve been all over the place. I never seem to get further than Dunure as I turn round & come back again. I should put a bit more effort in really.


  3. Hi Gavin thank you for your message and I’m pleased to learn that you enjoyed reading my review and looking at the photos. It’s a beautiful section of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, my favourite! Walking all the way from Girvan was definitely a challenge and don’t think I’d do it again haha. It was a full day and I was exhausted at the end. At least I didn’t have to walk all the way back too 😊


  4. Excellent review of Dunure to Ayr. I have been in Bracken Bay myself today. Just did an Ayr to Bracken & return to Ayr. That took me four hours slowly pottering along. It’s an amazing bit of coastline. Respect to you Gillian doing Girvan to Ayr in one day. Top lass. Excellent photos as well. Thankyou very much for the report.


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