Walk 94 – Irvine Beach & Cycle Track Loop – 9.3 miles

Starting with a walk along Irvine’s sandy beach all the way to Barassie, you will then return by following the National Cycle Network track.  Experience the industrial side of Irvine, as well as some scenic woodland areas, a wildlife reserve and the town’s popular white sandy beach. Enjoy the breathtaking views out across the Firth of Clyde at both the start and end of the walk! 

parking-available-icon  Car park at the end of Beach Drive, Irvine (KA12 8PP)

viewranger-image  Click HERE to view or follow a map of the route

route-image  Route: Start from the car park at the very top of Beach Drive. Use the set of stairs to go down onto the beach and walk along the sand all the way until just before the first houses in Barassie. Look out for a footpath on your left next to the golf course which takes you across a burn on a small footbridge and onto the grassy embankment adjacent to Beach Road, Barassie. From here you will follow the signposts for the NCN 7. Turn left onto Hillhouse Road, past the entrance to Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club and underneath the railway lines. Turn left to walk through a grassy area with a small play park in it, emerging onto Whins Road. At the end of the street turn left onto Lang Road. Turn left again at Lochgreen Avenue and once again onto Auchengate. At the end of the road turn left onto Lochgreen Avenue and out of the housing estate onto the busy A759. Turn left here and after a short walk cross the road at the pedestrian crossing and continue straight on into some woodland. A wide concrete road runs alongside the railway track and just as you approach Auchengate Sawmill the route turns right to cross the railway line. After crossing turn left to continue along the other side of the track until you emerge out onto a much wider and extremely straight concrete road. Turn right and follow the road until you reach a large information board for Shewalton Wood Wildlife Reserve on your right. Enter the Reserve and follow the footpath which weaves it’s way through, eventually ending at a small car park leading to Meadowhead Road. Turn right, following the road along for a little, looking out for a way marker on your left which takes you along past a large reservoir. The path ends at a footbridge over the A78 and you then turn right to walk along a road towards Three Stanes Roundabout. Turn left just before the roundabout, onto a footpath which runs alongside Marine Drive.  At a crossroads turn right past a derelict house and the path then swings round to follow Marine Drive once again. Just after crossing the railway line the path starts to head slightly downhill and into some more woodland before re-joining Marine Drive further along. When you reach a road signposted for Irvine Beach Park turn left and cross through the car park towards a grassy area. Follow the path right and where it turns to sand continue gently uphill and along beneath where the Stone Dragon sits. This footpath brings you out at the edge of the pond within Irvine Beach Park. Keep left all the time and you will emerge onto a minor road where you turn right to return to the roundabout at the end of Beach Drive. 

 

22nd October 2016

I remember doing this walk a couple of times when I was training for the West Highland Way many years ago and I always liked the variety of it: beach, housing estate, Nature Reserve, cycle track….. I have tried it just doing the beach walk there and back and found that I got pretty bored by the time I was on my return journey. Coming back via the cycle route makes the walk longer but far more interesting!  The only thing I would say against it is that there was an awful smell quite a few times, perhaps thanks to the sewage works nearby! 😮

The first stretch along Irvine Beach was really lovely and on a cool Autumn day like this there weren’t many people around (bonus!). The thing I love about this particular beach is that the further you walk along, the more wild it becomes: You really get to experience the glory of it’s natural, rugged state. Irvine Beach is lined with sand dunes which in themselves hold a lot of history and are a feature of the area worthy of careful conservation. We were lucky enough to spot a star fish washed up on the shore 🙂  This part of the walk was, for obvious reasons,  very easy in terms of navigation and therefore provided the perfect environment for a good catch up with my mum!

 

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The more ‘spruced up’ area of beach around the car park. Beautiful white sands and views across to Ailsa Craig and Arran just off to the right.
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The sand dunes are suffering from erosion but are an important ecological feature of the area

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As the houses of Barassie start to come into view, the route moves off the sand and onto the grassy embankment which runs alongside Beach Road. There were some benches here which made it a good spot to have a quick bite to eat. I was disappointed to find out that the peaches I had carried for the past 3 miles were dry and tasteless inside…. not quite the juicy thirst quenching snack I had in mind 😦

After passing through the housing estate and crossing the main road the route moves into quiet woodland and then runs alongside the railway track for a while. Perhaps it was the time of year, or maybe it’s just the soil around Irvine but I always find it pretty dull: I am a great lover of vibrant colours and there was a distinct lack of them apart from these bright yellow flowers which stood out from the crowd! Meeting this beautiful pair of Clydesdales was certainly a highlight of the day!

From here you enter Shewalton Wood, one of 9 Wildlife Reserves found around this part of Ayrshire. It seems to be a popular place for local dog walkers and there is a really good concrete footpath all the way through it.

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We were intrigued by this green gungy stagnant water which ran alongside the footpath. It didn’t smell at all and it was really hard to tell whether it was thick and gooey or just a thin scattering of very fine leaves on top of the water. We felt a real temptation to throw something on it to find out and were disheartened to realise that some people had obviously done so judging by the bottles and cans of juice which were floating around in it 😦  We found some sticks and poked around a little: not all all thick and gooey!

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When you come out of the Wildlife Reserve you can enjoy this lovely view for a minute while you walk past! What a contrast compared to where we had just been! Irvine is an industrial town though so on reflection it means that I can truly say that this route provides the walker with a great overview of the many different aspects of what Irvine has to offer.

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When I think back on this walk from the two previous times I did it, it is always an image of this section at the reservoir which comes to my mind. Such a peaceful place. I don’t know it’s name or it’s purpose (I have checked on a few maps) but any time I pass there are a few people fishing here.

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In the woodland sections of the walk we saw plenty of plants and berries as well as some lovely wild roses still in bloom.

The final section of the route takes you back towards the sandy beach but this time from a wonderful elevated position. The views down across the beach and across to the islands are in my opinion some of the best in Ayrshire! The path here is fairly narrow and there are some jaggy plants growing along the edges so definitely one for long trousers 🙂

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The pond at Irvine Beach Park
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