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A walk of mixed emotions! Peaceful beaches combined with the terrifying whizz of lorries on a busy trunk road. The route follows the sand, shingle and pebble beach from Ballantrae harbour along to Bennane Hill at which point it heads in-land to follow the A77 down to Lendalfoot.
Car park at The Vennel, Ballantrae (KA26 0NH) – free public toilets available here, and at Varyag memorial, Lendalfoot (KA26 0JG). There are also bus services between Ballantrae and Lendalfoot
Route: From the car park on The Vennel, Ballantrae, turn right (North) onto The Vennel and follow the road round the corner onto Foreland. Walk along the grass until you reach the small harbour. Use the slip to access the beach. Walk along the beach for almost 3km, heading inland (right – East) at two cottages beneath Bennane Hill, as directed by the Ayrshire Coastal Path signage. Follow the track up onto the grass verge beside the A77 Trunk Road. Turn left (North East) and for the next 3.5km walk along the grass verges beside A77 Trunk Road. Look out for Ayrshire Coastal Path signage as you go, which directs you to cross the road several times to take advantage of wider (and therefore safer) verges. On reaching Pebbles Spa go down onto the beach. Walk along the sandy shore for approx 1km until you reach the Varyag memorial car park on your right-hand side.
Click HERE to purchase the official Ayrshire Coastal Path Guide Book
WALK REVIEW: 8TH APRIL 2017
It is such a shame that the coastal section around Bennane Hill was closed, because were it not for the horrendous walk along the A77, this whole walk would have been brilliant. If we split the walk into three sections it looked a bit like this: Beach at Ballantrae (perfect) – A77 (awful) – Beach at Lendalfoot (perfect).
The beach between Ballantrae and the cottages at Bennane started off beautifully sandy, that easy compacted sand we all love to walk along. As I progressed the terrain turned to pebbles and shingle and further along still the beach became strewn with small rounded boulders of every colour imaginable. Very picturesque, although harder going than the Walkhighlands summary had suggested. The highlight of this beach was definitely the sheets of dark red sandstone; so vivid! It made me want to research geology a bit more to find out about the history of this area and why there should be red sandstone on the beach.
What stops me from ever wanting to do this section of the Ayrshire Coastal Path again sadly, is the memory of walking for 3 miles along the A77. What a contrast to my experience of the Ayrshire Coastal Path so far! Bear in mind that on this day I had already walked from Glenapp approx 12 miles away and had the most remarkable day, to suddenly be faced with traffic whizzing past my ear lobes. There was no footpath along the roadside so I was forced to find a way across clumps of long grass behind the crash barrier. In places the bushes beside the barrier were so overgrown that I actually had to walk OUTSIDE the crash barrier which meant that I was right next to the trucks, coaches and cars doing 60mph. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like there was a constant stream of traffic, but something did go past every 30 seconds or so at high speed. I was so close to the road that every time a large vehicle went past my hair whooshed around, I held my breath and my heart missed a beat. Not fun, and pretty dangerous in places. Having said all of that, the views from the top of the hill were spectacular (see cover photo)!
Going some way to make up for that last section, the beach at Lendalfoot was a real pleasure to walk along: the near white sand dotted with dark grey rocks every so often and the silhouette of Ailsa Craig beginning to show itself on the horizon. On both occasions, despite the fact that I was walking parallel and very close to the A77 the whole time, I was not actually aware of the road being there thanks to a high embankment between the road and beach, and the noise of traffic being drowned out by the waves.