Walk Review: The Ayrshire Coastal Path

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!

 

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

Lendalfoot4

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

Maidens8

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

Irvine1

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

Ardrossan1

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. They seem to 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 become annoying or spoil the sense of remoteness you might want from a coastal walk. Having said that, there are one or two signs missing in places where it would be helpful to have them, so I was glad that I had printed route information as a backup. I was also using the Viewranger app on my mobile phone to follow a pre-planned route I had downloaded. You can’t go far wrong with that, unless of course you run out of battery…..  The only section I would say is in need of some TLC in terms of signage is Dunure to Ayr. Instead of the usual wooden posts which you see along the other 94 miles, for this part of the trail they have been replaced by large white spots painted onto various surfaces such as rocks, fence posts etc. The problem is that they are often difficult to see since many of the rocks already have white marks on them and the paint is beginning to wear off so they blend in a little too much to the natural environment. Even though I had completed that walk before I still found navigation tricky, particularly between Dunure and Bracken Bay.

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! As I progressed north and started to pass through places like Ayr, Irvine and Largs there were more people around. It wasn’t a long distance trail like others I have done, like the West Highland Way for example, where there were streams of fellow-hikers doing the same walk so you inevitably strike up a relationship with some of them. I felt like I was the only person doing the trail (apart from the days when friends or family joined me) so it was quite a lonely experience at times. A funny story comes to mind however 🙂 As I was heading away from Irvine I sat on a bench to fix my gel toe tubes which had slipped off and were annoying me. Before I took my boots off I waited a moment to let a man pass with his dog (applying covers to my toes was preferably not something I wanted to be doing in a public place!) but lo and behold did he not just stop to chat with me, taking a seat next to me on the bench! He looked to be in his 70s and proceeded to tell me his life story, taking an interest in where I was walking to etc. He told me he used to do a lot of hillwalking and we chatted for a good 10 minutes before I finally had to make my excuses and get on my way.  I found another bench a little further along and sat down to try again! He was a lovely man, far traveled and very much in love with his family, it was a shame I didn’t have more time to chat longer with him.

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 cam 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 🙂

 

 

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