Walk 164 – Brown Carrick Hill & The Ayrshire Coast – 8.2 miles

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A combination of lowland hills and rocky coastlines: perfection in a walk! Starting in the picture-perfect fishing village of Dunure you will wind your way up into the Carrick Hills before descending to sea level to return to the beginning via one of the most stunning and rugged sections of the Ayrshire Coastal Path. On a clear day you will enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the summit of Brown Carrick Hill (287 m / 941 ft): the best vantage point in the area! 

  Car parking available at Kennedy Park, Dunure (seasonal, fee) as well as a few spaces down near the harbour (KA7 4LN). Closest train station is in Ayr, 7.5 miles (12km away) with a local bus service operating between Ayr and Dunure.

route image  Route: From Dunure Harbour walk up the hill towards Castle Road – the main road through the village, passing the Dunure Inn on your right-hand side. Turn left (North East) onto Castle Road and walk along the roadside pavement, through the village of Fisherton. When you reach A719/Ayr Road cross straight over onto the minor road next to Fisherton Primary School. After 270m at a path junction turn right (South West) onto a gravel track as indicated by the ‘Footpath’ sign. Before reaching Dunduff Farm turn left (South East) to start walking uphill again (notice the green arrow way markers on the fence to your right before the turn). There are a couple of stiles to cross as you ascend. On reaching a small fishing loch 1km up the hill, the path forks, keep left (East) to stay on the open hillside. The track soon disappears but you want to aim for the corner where the trees meet ahead on your right. There is a stile here (beware barbed wire) to help you cross into the forest. As you walk through the clearing a gap will appear on your left a short 60m in, and this leads to a kissing gate and out onto the open hillside. Head north initially, to avoid a marshy area to your right, then make your way north-east up the ridge to reach the trig point at the summit of Brown Carrick Hill. From the summit head north-east, aiming to pass close to the radio masts with them on your left-hand side. Beyond the masts there is a stile over the fence – cross this then head east along a faint grassy path down the ridge-line, ignoring the surfaced road on your left. On reaching a minor road turn left (North West) and continue along it for approx 1.4 miles to reach A719. Carefully cross the road then turn left (West) to walk along the roadside verge for 280m. Take the first road on the right (North) towards Heads of Ayr Caravan Park. As you reach the entrance, keep left to pass behind some caravans, looking out for a kissing gate on the right at the gap in the high embankment. Turn left (West) as indicated by the Ayrshire Coastal Path signage, to walk along the field edge beneath the caravan park and up onto the embankment of a disused railway. After following the disused railway track bed for 1km, a kissing gate is reached which leads onto farmland. Cross the field (West) to another gate close to the clifftops, then cross the next field, keeping the boundary fence close to your right-hand side, to reach another gate at the top of a steep gully. Take care descending the gully steps (hand-built by a team of volunteers and funded by the Rotary Club of Ayr). Turn left (South West) at the bottom to walk along the rocky shoreline and across the Drumbain Burn at a waterfall. 400m further along the rocky shoreline the trail goes up a grassy gully onto another cliff-top section. Instead of marker posts, look out for a series of white discs painted onto rocks to stay on the right course across the farmland and grassy clifftops. You will be led back down onto the shore through a gap in some rocks leading onto a sandy beach just north of the fishing village of Dunure. Walk South across the beach and around Dunure Harbour, completing the loop.

Brown Carrick Hill

IMPORTANT NOTE: IT IS ESSENTIAL TO CHECK THE TIDE TIMES BEFORE SETTING OFF, AS A HIGH TIDE COULD PREVENT YOU FROM PASSING THE COASTAL SECTION OF THIS WALK. Please leave 2 hrs either side of an expected high tide. 

ACPlogo Click HERE to purchase the official Ayrshire Coastal Path Guide Book, in which this walk is featured.


WALK REPORT: 19th August 2017 and 6th January 2018

It took me two attempts at this walk to get it right, a tiny error on the summit taking me off in the wrong direction first time around!  The result was a complicated descent and not one which I would encourage anyone else to follow, unless you like the sound of steep hillside fields full of cows and sheep? It was a beautiful warm summer day when I set off alone to try out this route. The Ayrshire Coastal Path official guide book suggests it as a high-level de-tour and with my local knowledge I knew that it could then be made into a loop using the coastal path trail to return to the start. The radio masts atop Brown Carrick Hill can be seen for miles around and I had passed them by car hundreds of times so I was very keen to get up there!

The walk to the summit was uphill from the get-go however good tracks facilitated things for most of the way. A lovely little fishing loch appeared out of nowhere just where the track joined with the Dunure-Maybole hill path (one for another day!). The light was hitting it just perfectly! I thought it would be a nice place to have a picnic some day but my husband has since informed me that I would need to share my sandwich with a swarm of midges so perhaps not… From this point there was little by way of path so I was grateful once again for my pre-plotted route on my mobile app, showing me what way to walk. Once out on the open hillside I heard the chatter of voices behind me and on turning around I saw two men approach from the same direction I had. For some reason I got spooked and started to imagine some neds from the villages following me up planning some nasty act and I practically jogged across the ridge to the trig point. From there the view was simply stunning, and I got so carried away taking photos that I was still there when the men caught up with me. To my relief (although I wasn’t really surprised) they were really nice guys, both high school teachers in the area, and we chatted for a while about the view, other walks we had done, where we were headed the rest of the day, etc. Silly brain playing tricks on me!

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Fishing loch up on the hillside
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Brown Carrick Hill trig point – Ailsa Craig on the horizon
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View looking north along the Ayrshire Coast

From the trig point I could clearly see the radio masts however I wasn’t sure whether I needed to aim for the seaward or inland side of them to pick up my route down to the road. The whole hill is farmland with barbed wire fences all over the place so I spotted a gate and headed for it. From here a path of some sort led me further downhill to another gate and so on until I eventually checked my position to realise I was way off course and was going to have to clamber down the hillside to meet up with the road further down than planned. Honestly this must be the steepest farmland in Scotland! Thankfully the cows and sheep were very friendly, moving out my way as I trampled over their grass.

So I eventually returned 5 months later to try the walk again, this time aiming directly for the masts via a different gate further along the fence. My friend Eve came along this time. She was new to hills but liked coastal walks and I knew that she would just love this whole route! Stopping at the trig point a little longer than we should have (we are on a trig bagging mission this year and this was #1!), we had fun taking photos from various angles and admiring the awesome view across to the snow-capped mountains of Arran, Ailsa Craig and all the way along the northern section of the Ayrshire coast. An early morning haze hid the view to the east which I was disappointed about as I knew that the Galloway Hills were out there! After finding shelter from the icy wind long enough to have an alfresco lunch, the haze began to lift slightly and the outline of the hills near New Cumnock and south to Straiton became visible. Just magical.

We stayed inland of the masts this time around and as though to make me look like an idiot, a surfaced road appeared at the other side, zig zagging right up to them! I knew that this was probably the one that led to the road. So easy…. We saw a grassy footpath leading downhill in a north-easterly direction which we decided to follow instead as it was more aesthetically pleasing! As expected it emerged onto the road, from where the walk down to A719 was really enjoyable, with views across to the Isle of Arran the whole way.

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Hazy view to the south east, inland
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Single track road leading down to the A719. A snow-capped Isle of Arran visible all the way down.

Now it was time for the rookie error! We headed past Heads of Ayr Caravan Park,  along the dismantled railway, across the fields and down the new steps of steep Fisherton Gully to the rocky shore. The views had been simply stunning the whole way and you can see some examples of this from the photos below, taken during my summer trip! Today however, I had been able to tell for some time that the tide was further in than I thought it would be, but I hoped that there would be enough shoreline left to pass safely the short distance to the next gully which would take us once again to higher ground. Alas, we were too late. I had carefully checked the expected high tide time before setting off: 3pm. The time was now 2pm and at one tiny section which jutted out that bit more than the rest, the tide was already lapping the bottom of the cliffs. There was no way past. I was gutted, not least because I loved this section of the Ayrshire Coastal Path and I knew that just around that tiny cliff was another bay which would have been passable. Had we arrived at this point even 15 minutes earlier we would have been able to get round no problem. There was nothing else for it but to clamber back up Fisherton Gully. Fortunately, being a volunteer with the Ayrshire Coastal Path I had been out working on the gully recently, which meant that I knew of a way to access the main road without retracing our steps all the way back to the caravan park which would have been enough to make us both cry. We then headed back to Dunure along the grass verge of the A719. Not the best end to the day! It just goes to show… even though I knew to check the tide times, and did so, and even though I actually work along the trail and knew this area was prone to hide tide issues, I still managed to get caught out!

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Bracken Bay – has to be the best view in Ayrshire at any time of year! 
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A work in progress – Ayrshire Coastal Path volunteers and members of Ayr Rotary Club have been working hard on the Fisherton Gully project all winter to make it safer and easier for walkers to descent to the rocky shore below. 
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Taken in summer with the flowers in bloom, this photo shows the rocky shoreline. So remote, so spectacular. 
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I wasn’t so lucky during my winter visit. The tide was too far in at the end of the bay and there was no way past these cliffs. In future I shall aim to be there 2hrs ahead of expected high tide time, rather than the 1hr today!
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The village of Dunure coming into view towards the end of the walk <3

Read more about the Ayshire Coastal Path trail >> HERE 

Find other walks in South Ayrshire >> HERE


7 thoughts on “Walk 164 – Brown Carrick Hill & The Ayrshire Coast – 8.2 miles

  1. This walk looks amazing Gillian! I’m not good with directions and maps so would probably not attempt it on my own. Would you consider leading one of these walks through the Scottish Women’s Hiking and Hillwalking group? :)

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  2. Some years ago I tried to reach Brown Carrick from Fisherton but the ‘disappearing track’ you mention discouraged my less adventurous companion so instead we continued to the pretty but fly-ridden little loch at the top of the hill, then turned back to Fisherton.
    The following year I took a bus to Fisherton and did the walk to Maybole. Very boggy in places, enough to make me wonder if I’d get out alive. And then my boot shed a sole! But it happened just as I exited a particularly dungy bit onto the surfaced road down into Maybole, so I guess the gods smiled on my soulless self that day.
    This is the point where the route exits onto tar:https://goo.gl/maps/7MR1ZU8ZL9GBpX2c7
    One could turn left and walk to Culroy, but no buses serve Culroy, as far as I know.
    Down the road towards Maybole is a cycle route sign for Dunure. I can’t remember exactly where it was, but I suspect it is the track that leads to the model airplane club.https://goo.gl/maps/wSRZ8okdiAtiusUb8
    I must go back there soon and find out where it leads.

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    1. Hi Donald. Did you ever find out where the cycle route goes? I wondered if it is maybe the “Gardenrose Path” mentioned on the very last route here: https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/documents/cycle%20route%2018_1_08.pdf

      I know the wee loch you talk about at the top of the hill. It isn’t always fly-ridden, I promise :-) I remember a very lovely winter afternoon spent sitting by it eating a packed lunch. The water had frozen at the edges and there were Buzzards flying overheard. Beautiful.

      The hill path to Maybole is still very much on my list! Good to know that it is boggy – hopefully I will have better luck than you with my hiking boots!

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      1. Returned to Maybole today to try and find the mysterious cycle route to Dunure. Started from Gardenrose Path in Maybole and then followed the farm track signposted ‘Dunure – 5.5 miles’ past the model flying club and came to a small quarry at the top of the hill – a cul-de-sac. Backtracked a bit and followed another hard core track to the top of another hill, with a mysteriously cleared section – as if in preparation for a house – with a fine view of Ailsa.

        Nothing but sheep tracks thereafter, so followed a series of four strange metal ‘gallows poles’, their primordial purpose undetermined. They reminded me of aircraft warning beacons and I wondered about the old Turnberry airfield but their siting did not fit with that hypothesis.

        Following the gallows poles led to a cairn, perhaps the one shown in this report…

        https://www.sprf.org.uk/whithorn/walk6.html

        …which also shows the gate (with the ‘cycle route to Dunure’ sign) on the road which begins in Maybole as Gardenrose Path. But the report refers to it as Cycle Route 7, which this OS map indicates as following the tar:

        https://explore.osmaps.com/en?lat=55.380974&lon=-4.719384&zoom=13.2973

        So, a thoroughly enjoyable ramble with lovely weather, but no wiser re the cycle route.

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