Walk 191 – Fairlie Glens and Waterfalls Circular – 4.3 miles

On a clear day the views from this route are simply outstanding: the islands of Cumbrae & Arran and the pink sandy beaches at Fairlie and Hunterston. A variety of woodland paths, tracks and grassy hillsides lead you gently uphill past the remains of Fairlie Castle and along the base of Black Hill. The return section follows the Fairlie Moor Road and then the Ayrshire Coastal Path. There is the opportunity to visit some fantastic hidden waterfalls along the route if you don’t mind some slightly rougher terrain for a few minutes!

Dog-friendly walk (note: livestock possible on the path along the base of Black Hill and on-road walking for the second half of the walk – you’ll know whether this suits your own dog or not)

Download the route to your mobile phone

Car parking available at Fairlie Rail Station (KA29 0DX)

Route: From the car park at Fairlie Rail Station there is a lane heading north between the last house on Station Road and some trees. Very soon it emerges onto Burnfoot Road where you turn right onto a footpath which appears to go right past the front door of Burnfoot Cottage. If you look behind you, you will be encouraged to see from the sign on the lamppost that it is a way-marked path, signposted “Fairlie Castle, Glen & Waterall, Kaim Hill”. From here a woodland path follows Fairlie Burn uphill to the remains of Fairlie Castle. Look out for a wooden sign pointing off the main path into some (often overgrown) vegetation: if you are up for a bit of a challenge there is a lovely waterfall hidden in there! The path continues beyond the castle and you should follow this, looking out for a footbridge (no handrail) on the right soon after. This leads out onto a field/meadow which you cross diagonally uphill to meet a footpath leading towards some fir trees. On a clear day the views from here are spectacular! A beautiful section of woodland awaits and this emerges out onto open hillside. Just beyond this woodland there is a large rock in the ground which has some ancient stone and cup markings on it (though you can easily miss it!) Follow a faint path left towards the corner of two dry stone walls and pass through the gate. Follow the (sometimes muddy) track to the right/heading south along the base of Black Hill. Eventually this emerges onto the Fairlie Moor Road. The continuation of the route is to the right, but for a short and very worthwhile detour to another waterfall turn left along the road a short distance. Just beyond the bend in the road look for a narrow footpath on the right (not signposted). It leads to a beautiful hidden waterfall on Glen Burn – you can actually walk in behind it if there is not too much water at the time of your visit! Retrace your steps to the Fairlie Moor Road, turn left and follow it downhill to meet with A78/Irvine Road. Take care crossing over and turn right onto the NCN757 / Ayrshire Coastal Path route. Continue along the cycle path to reach Fairlie. Turn right onto Montgomerie Avenue then left onto Montgomerie Drive. Station Road is at the end of this street. Turn right to reach the Rail Station car park.


This is a route which I planned with EnRich Outdoors for the Clyde Muirshiel Walking Festival. I had opted to lead one closer to home than the previous year’s Four Waters to Corlic Hill route, mainly to cut back on travel time. Fairlie wasn’t an area I knew that well, so I had some exploring to do before we could promote the walk on the festival programme! We recce’d the route on a glorious sunny day in May and were rewarded with the most magnificent views across to the Cumbraes and the Isle of Arran. I couldn’t believe the turquoise of the water or the pink sands of Fairlie and Hunterston beaches – it felt like we were on one of the western isles or abroad. Unfortunately when we led the walk for the walking festival the weather wasn’t quite so kind!

The waterfalls were actually a surprise to me! The first one we only ‘found’ thanks to an old wooden way marker just off the path which simply said “waterfall”. Of course we were intrigued so followed the path. There were some fallen trees to negotiate and a little bit of scrambling – and all of a sudden out of nowhere there it was! There wasn’t a lot of water in it during our visit, granted, but enough to make an impression. Imagine it when the burn is in spate! It turned out not to be as hidden as we thought, as we later crossed over the top of it on a footbridge. Still, it is much nicer to see from below than from above! The second waterfall was one the EnRich Outdoors team had visited before but was a first for me. Again, it wasn’t far off the main path (not signposted this time though!) and it was another “wow” moment as I approached. This one reminded me of the Yad Waterfall in Maspie Den, Fife because you could actually walk in behind it. I guess you probably can’t always do that, however the water levels were low enough when we were there that it was easily done.

We chose a really colourful time of year to do the walk: the hawthorn trees were in full bloom and bluebells carpeted the woodland floors. There was also coconut-scented gorse along the base of Black Hill, and Fairle Moor Road was lined with irises. We saw lots of hairy caterpillars, found the empty shell of a bird’s egg and an abandoned wasps nest! I can definitely recommend doing this walk in May, though I am sure it is a pleasure most times of the year and especially after heavy rainfall when the waterfalls will be all the more spectacular (and the path all the more boggy!)

Other walks nearby you might enjoy:

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