One of Scotland’s Great Trails, the Ayrshire Coastal Path runs 100 miles between Glenapp in the South and Wemyss Bay in the North. It is a perfect mix of inland and on-beach sections which keeps things varied and interesting. With either Ailsa Craig or Isle of Arran as your companion for the vast majority of the way, there is always some stunning scenery to gaze out at (if you get the weather!) From golden sandy beaches to rugged rocky shorelines, Ayrshire has it all! The path was created by the Rotary Club of Ayr, and alongside a small group of volunteers they work tirelessly to ensure that the trail is well maintained for the enjoyment of thousands of locals and visitors alike. Please show your support by purchasing a copy of the official Ayrshire Coastal Path Guide Book which contains up-to-date route information as well as a wealth of information on the history and geography of the area.
What made you decide to walk the Ayrshire Coastal Path?
Being from Ayrshire I had of course already completed short sections of the coastal path in my 35 years! However over the past year or so the more I saw of it the more I dreamt of walking the entire way and in April 2017 the perfect opportunity presented itself. I was looking to challenge myself to raise funds for the Mark McCloskey Foundation, an epilepsy charity being set up by a close friend in memory of her late husband. As a regular walker I knew that if I wanted people to donate to the cause it had to be something pretty big! And so the Ayrshire Coastal Path it was!
How long did it take you? And how many miles? (Janet Duncan)
I split the route into 4 days walking approx 25 miles per day. As much as I wanted to raise a lot of money for the charity, I also wanted to enjoy the experience and so I decided not to attempt it over consecutive days but rather to complete the walk over the course of the month of April. I opted for days with better weather forecast when possible and ensured I had at least one rest day in between outings. Living in Ayrshire it was amazing to be able to come home to my own bed each day! Read detailed reviews about each section at the links below…..
Day One: Glenapp to Girvan
Part A – Glenapp to Ballantrae (9 miles)
Part B – Ballantrae to Lendalfoot (5.5 miles)
Part C – Lendalfoot to Girvan (6 miles)
Day Two: Girvan to Ayr
Part D – Girvan to Maidens (10 miles)
Part E – Maidens to Dunure (7 miles)
Part F – Dunure to Ayr (6.7 miles)
Day Three: Ayr to Ardrossan
Part G – Ayr to Troon (9.5 miles)
Part H – Troon to Irvine (6.5 miles)
Part I – Irvine to Ardrossan (9.3 miles)
Day Four: Ardrossan to Wemyss Bay
Part J – Ardrossan to Portencross (6.5 miles)
Part K – Portencross to Largs (7 miles)
Park L – Largs to Wemyss Bay (10.5 miles)
Is the signage easy to follow for the whole way? (Elaine Ross)
On the whole, I found the Ayrshire Coastal Path to be extremely well way-marked. The Ayr Rotary Club team who created the trail have been able to find a good balance between having enough signs to know where you need to go, but not too many that they spoil the walk. Along the whole 100 mile route I only came across one or two occasions where a way marker would have been beneficial. I was glad that I had a printed route description with me as a backup, although in hindsight I didn’t make the best choice: I thought I could trust the information on the Walkhighlands website but unfortunately I found it to be out of date and/or confusing at times so I would not recommend doing the same. I would have been better to have purchased a copy of the official Ayrshire Coastal Path Guide Book. I was also using the Viewranger app on my mobile phone to follow a pre-planned route. If you use a combination of the information contained in my report, the guide book and Viewranger mapping then you can’t go far wrong!
Any recovery tips if someone else decides to do it in marathon blocks? (Carolyn Smith)
When I come home from a long distance hike I love nothing better than to have a hot bath with some of my favourite bath salts. At the moment I am loving the Rescue & Renew Detox Soak by Arbonne which smells amazing. Personally, I took some recovery days in between each section which definitely made a difference to the overall enjoyment of the trail. I am lucky that I live a maximum of 1.5 hrs drive from any one part of the ACP, so that was do-able! However the most important thing is to train for it before you go. Walking 25 miles in one day and repeating it several times in close succession is not something you can just get up and do. Shorter walks are fine for training, but make them long enough that you know your weak points and can therefore prepare for them and avoid blisters and other sore points which can drastically change how much you enjoy a walk! In my case I knew that my toes tend to become painful and so I had purchased gel toe tubes to wear to prevent them from becoming sore. Prevention, as they say, is better than cure! Final tip: ALWAYS cut your toenails before you go!!
Did you meet any interesting people along the way? (Jenny Trott)
There were actually some days when I hardly met a soul for the whole 9 hours, especially on the most southerly stretches! This is certainly not a criticism, on the contrary it is just how I like my walks! As I progressed north and started to pass through the seaside towns of Ayr, Irvine and Largs there were naturally more people around. As for those I actually ‘met’, one funny story comes to mind 🙂 As I was heading out of Irvine I stopped to make some adjustments to my feet when, before I could take my boots off a man out walking a dog decided to take a seat on the bench beside me and have a chat for 15 minutes. He was charming, had been a keen hillwalker in his younger years, told me all about his granddaughter and his children, but I couldn’t exactly whip off my stinking boots and socks and adjust my toe protectors in front of him could I?! With no sign of him moving on any time soon I made my excuses and headed off…… to the next bench to try again!
What was your favourite discovery along the way (Eve Smillie)
Oh my, how to choose one favourite! I discovered that there is a place called Stinchar between Glenapp and Ballantrae which amused me quite a lot!! 😀 On that same walk I loved seeing all the pheasants, the most I have ever seen in the wild anywhere in my life! They kept catching me off-guard and making me jump with their squawking; always seeing me before I saw them. There were literally hundreds of them! This may sound like a bizarre thing to mention as being one of my favourite discoveries but towards the end of that walk, after trying unsuccessfully for hours to get a photo of them before they flew off or ran into the bushes to hide, I passed one (dead) at the road side – poor thing had been knocked down. It was still completely intact and it’s feathers were so beautiful. I stood a while looking at it in awe of all the patterns and markings on it: it was a male, with a bright red face, blue neck, spotted body and the most incredible long striped tail feathers. And no I didn’t take it’s photo in case you were wondering! Would have been wrong!
For those looking to do it in one go, are there any decent places to stop overnight. Are there any commercial campsites? Are there any wild camping spots? Is it possible to wild camp every night? (Gleb Wulf)
There are facilities in most of the towns and villages you pass through, you are never far from civilization. Walkhighlands has some good info on their website, and the official Ayrshire Coastal Path website lists some specific accommodation options. There are lots of caravan parks along the route, but I am not sure which accommodate tents. I did come across the Scottish Camping website which appears to have quite a comprehensive and easy-to-read list. As for wild camping, I am probably not the best person to ask since I have yet to try it so I am not exactly sure what defines a nice wild camping spot. There are certainly some lovely grassy beach-side spots which I would think would be ideal such as Maidens, Dunure, Greenan Castle, Portencross and Fairlie to name a few. Hope that is of some help! Feel free to get in touch directly for more detail or other questions 🙂