TERRAIN: Grassy foreshore field, pebble and sandy beach, farm tracks, earth trails. Boggy underfoot at times. Gradual ascent to summit and more challenging descent due to less distinct and muddy path, which may become overgrown in summer months. Two gates to climb to reach summit trig point, 1 stile.
LIVESTOCK: Risk of cows on Goldenberry Hill and hill access track
Public car park at Portencross (KA23 9QA). No public transport to start point. Closest train station is in West Kilbride which is 2.3 miles away. Local bus service to A78 which is 1.7 miles away.
WALK REPORT: 5th January 2019 & 10th May 2023
I was first at the top of Goldenberry Hill back in 2019 when I co-led a “New Year” group walk on 5th January. As I returned 4 years later my memory of the route was hazy but the images I did hold were of wide farm tracks all the way to the top and a farm gate which had to be climbed. It turned out that not a lot had changed in that time! That day we did a “there & back” route but on my second visit I was keen to check out a circular option, and that is the route I have chosen to feature in this report.
The reason for my return was that I had been booked by a father and son duo from the USA who were coming to the area to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors – the Boyds. We had agreed a guided walk route from Portencross to Goldenberry Hill, which was an important site during the Battle of Largs in which the Boyd’s played a pivotal role.
Walking along Adrneil Bay to kick things off is always such a pleasure. The pink sands and the expansive views across to the Isle of Arran – did you know that Portencross is the closest point on the mainland to Arran? Go on a clear day and you can see every detail on the island!
There are actually two gates to climb on this walk – the farm gate mentioned already and also a smaller, very old iron gate at the summit which leads to the trig point and cairn. There can often be cows close to the summit too: when I arrived with my American guests they were right beside the path, just beyond the farm gate… fortunately they weren’t interested in us and moved away as we approached. Phew!
There were several path options shown on my map for a possible descent, but they all seemed to stop in the middle of nowhere. Once onsite I could see that there were cows to the NE so I chose to go W instead, following a faint path towards the trees. I arrived at another old gate held closed by a piece of rope – the whole fence moved when I opened it! I carefully tied it back up once on the other side and started off down the hillside.
A path was visible most of the time, however I noticed that it was made from very soft peat-like mud which might be slippery when wet, particularly on the steeper sections. I remember thinking it would be good for the garden! The trail also looked like it might become overgrown during the summer months. I would recommend downloading the route to your mobile using the button above if you want to try the circular option, because the trail isn’t all that obvious at times.
To my delight after a steep descent beside Hunterston Power Station, the path led us along the base of some wooded cliffs to a stile. This gave us access to Power Station Rd for an easy walk back along to Portencross.
Walking this route in an anti-clockwise direction leaves Portencross Castle and it’s pretty harbour for the end. If you are fortunate enough to be there on a weekend, be sure to visit inside the castle: full of local history and the views from the rooftop are spectacular!