Beginning with an easy inland section along the NCN7 cycle track between Irvine and Stevenston, this walk then returns to the coast for the second half. Expect beautiful sandy beaches, wide concrete promenades and pavements. On the coastal section the Isle of Arran will accompany you to the west on a clear day! When passing, delve into local history by taking some time to read the plaques along the walls of the former Ardrossan Boating Ponds.
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Start: Car park at Low Green, Irvine (KA12 8RJ)
End: Car park at Ardrossan Marina (KA22 8DB)
Route: From Low Green in Irvine, the ACP way markers lead walkers along the River Irvine followed by the railway line, using the NCN7 cycle path. Eventually coming away from the railway, you will emerge at the B779 where you should turn left to pass Garnock Floods Wildlife Reserve. After crossing the bridge over the Garnock Water, cross the road and follow the trail through some barriers and into a small woodland area. The route follows the Garnock Water for a short distance but at a fork in the path keep left to move away from the river and cross over the B779/Nethermains Road. Pick up the path at the other side. Cross Longford Avenue and continue onto Byrehill Road, later becoming Dubbs Road – these are quiet minor roads and you are on them for approx 1.8 miles. On reaching the B752 cross over and continue straight ahead into Ardeer Park. Follow the ACP signage around the edge of the park, emerging onto Moorpark Road East. Turn left onto Station Road in Stevenston and after the level crossing continue ahead, past Adeer Primary School and onto Shore Road. At a fork keep right to head towards a large fenced-off games area. Walk through the car park on your right and over the bridge onto Stevenston Beach. At the end of the beach the wide promenade will take you all the way to Saltcoats Harbour. Walk around the edge of the harbour and remain seaward of a parking area and leisure complex to reach a stone tower on the edge of the former Ardrossan boating ponds. From here use the promenade then drop down onto Ardrossan South Beach at the first opportunity. From the far end of the beach the route heads inland along Princes Street to reach Ardrossan Harbour and the Clyde Marina.
WALK REVIEW: 15TH APRIL 2017
When I did this part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path during a charity hike I had already walked 16 miles from Ayr with my mum and friend Helen, so I was a little weary. Now walking alone, I found the initial inland section along the cycle track pretty uninspiring. I felt somewhat annoyed by the fact that if there had been a proper bridge across the River Irvine, such as the one to The Big Idea which has been left in the open position (and therefore useless) since 2016, then it might have been possible to walk along Ardeer Beach and cut out a lot of unnecessary miles. I am not against inland sections on a long distance coastal walk – there had been some stunning ones on my journey so far from Glenapp 60 miles south – but I AM against inland sections which offer absolutely no view to the coast whatsoever. I am being a tad harsh…. this one was more scenic than some cycle tracks I have walked along in the past. It went through some nice woodland areas and had more twists and turns that I had expected, plus there was a 2 mile stretch along a quiet minor road which was pleasant. It also offered some relief from the wind that had been battering my face all day!
I was glad to reach the beach at Stevenston, not least because of the sights I had just witnessed coming through the town: school-age kids trying to duck under the level crossing barrier before (and even after) it closed to let a train pass….. Other kids driving motorbikes up and down the pavement on Station Road. “Classy”, I thought. Coming across the footbridge and onto the beach was like walking into another world. There wasn’t another soul to be seen anywhere along the pristine golden sand. I reminded myself that it was blowing a gale and that was most likely a big factor in that but I was grateful nonetheless! I was also grateful to the team of local volunteers I had read about who work tirelessly to keep Stevenston Beach litter-free. Were it not for them, judging by the behaviour of the youths I had just witnessed in town, I had no doubts that the beach would be far less enjoyable for me to be on.
I am conscious that I have painted rather a dull picture of this walk, however I do believe that this is due to having walked so far before I got to the starting point of it, and the weather playing a part too. As a walk on it’s own merits, the Irvine to Stevenston cycle track would be great if you are looking for an easy stroll inland through woodland and parks. It would be buggy-friendly too. More exciting would be the Stevenston to Ardrossan section if you are like me and prefer to be beside (or on!) the seaside 😉 The towns of Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan merge seamlessly together so you are never far from civilization.