Ballantrae to Cairnryan. 13 Miles.


Emma and me on the Ayrshire Coastal Path

Ayrshire Coastal Path guide book.

Ayrshire Coastal Path guide book.

I travelled towards my starting point for the walk the previous evening and sat in the van in the Irvine and saw that the weather forecast was going to be really horrendous the next day with 35 mph winds and driving rain all day. I decided that I didnt need to put myself through that especially as a major part of the walk was going to be across a high hilly area. So I drove back to my sisters in Glasgow and bullied my daughter Emma to come down the day after and walk with me for the day.

The weather wasnt bad when we set off and fortunately stayed dry all day. The only problem was that when we eventually set off from Ballantrae after stopping off at the cafe in the local garden centre for a quick bacon roll it was already after 11 am. I reckoned that we would be reaching our destination in Cairnryan in the dark. Setting off from Ballantrae I followed the the Ayrshire Coastal Path towards the hill south of the village named Downan Hill on the map. However Im not sure if we missed the turning as the path we were following kind of “ran out”  idecided to double back and follow another path which lead eastwards towards the farm at Meadow Park. It wasnt a big detour but it was a tad annoying as a signpost at the outbuildings at Downan would have cleared up the confusion.  We carried on an followed minor farm roads until we had to skirt Eastwards around Sandloch Hill. This led us down the hill till the path eventually ended at the junction of the main A77 road and the start (or end) of the Ayrshire Coastal Path. The rest of the walk was along the main road which led down into Cairnryan – a very busy road used by the lorries and traffic coming over from Ireland off the ferry at Stranraer. By the time we eventually reached Cairnryan it was already dark and we had to be very careful that we got off the road quickly as the traffic came around the bends. I cant remember the last time I ever finished a walk in the dark, or even if I had done at all. This is the latest time in the year that I have walked on the Coast walk and Im suddenly conscious that in four weeks time it will be dark at four and Im realistically going tp have to question whether this “final push” to finish the walk over the winter is worthwhile.

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2 Responses to Ballantrae to Cairnryan. 13 Miles.

  1. sarah says:

    I have been looking at your photos and have read some of your website!
    I would just like to say I love your photos they are amazing,I have been looking for photos to paint and came across your site and all your amazing photos ,some lovely ones,I have been looking for photos of Kilcreggan and the coast around about to paint,as that is where I was brought up! I have been away from there now for about 20 years and dont have any.I think ive found one which I think?is kilcreggan Pier but not sure.Great! Thanks

  2. Ayrshire Coastal Path coordinator says:

    Hi Gil, Have just read your reports and comments on your walk north to south along ( or missing half of) the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Yes we deliberately did not publish detailed routes maps on our Official Website, for several reasons.
    1). the exorbitant costs of obtaining internet publishing licences for the OS mapping, section by section.
    2). We feel strongly that people should read the Guide Book before venturing on the south section of the Path because there are several unavoidable tidal delay points which will cause 2-4 hour delays if walked at high spring tides. The Guide Book and Website give clear instructions on accessing the Admiralty EasyTide tables website.
    3). The West Highland Way and Southern Upland Ways do not publish detailed maps on their websites, and most people will use their Guide Books.
    4). The Guide Book is already in reprint, having sold 2300 of 3000 copies in 5 months. At £12 a copy, all proceeds go to charity and Ayr Rotary have so far grossed over £17,000 – another good reason for encouraging people to read and learn the about the history and natural history of this beautiful coastline before they set off.
    I am at a loss as to why you think we need more signs, since we have installed over 330 signs along the coast, and experienced walk leaders reckon it is one of the best sign-posted walks in the country. These signs are a mixture of 250 green and white logo signs, 60 black marker posts, small direction arrows and logos, and joint signs with Sustrans on sections of the NCN7. I do not know how you missed the marker post south of Heads of Ayr pointing up the path to the old railway, the cliff top walk and stairway down to the shore walk to Dunure; the clear signs leading up to Dunure Castle, Kennedy Park and up the Smugglers Path up to the kissing gate and cliff top walk leading down to Croy Bay; the signed kissing gate leading across Turnberry Golf course from the A719 along the lighthouse road to Turnberry Bay and the shore walk right to Girvan – which would have saved you from the terrible A77T. Below Girvan at Ardwell Farm are very clear signs pointing across the road to the 18th century post road which traverses the hillside for several miles 300′ above the Kennedys Pass A77T then drops down to the shore just north of Lendalfoot. Even more puzzling, is the fact you followed the signs south from Ballantrae to Langdale Farm and Downanhill cottage and failed to see the large direction signs directing walkers through two kissing gates and round the west side of Downan Hill to the start of a magnificent cliff walk all the way to Glenapp – missing out all that A77T again! We have spent a huge amount of time fine tuning signs following the late delivery of part of our order during the summer.
    As I said earlier, a good look at the Guide Book (available via Paypal on our website http://www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org) would have made your walk through Ayrshire much better informed and more enjoyable – and miles away from the 40-ton artics thundering past on the A77T.
    Thank you for your compliments to the work of Ayr Rotary in setting up this path. You may like to know that we have persuaded Stranraer Rotary to set up an extension south from Ballantrae to Stranraer and the Southern Upland Way (due to open next summer) and Gourock Rotary to develop a route north from Skelmorlie over the Greenock Cut to Erskine Bridge to join the Forth and Clyde Canal to Maryhill and the West Highland Way. so your dream of joined-up paths is becoming a reality.
    Final tip – it is much more attractive and pleasant to walk the Path from south to north with the sun and wind or rain behind you. Apart from the great vistas, signs may be easier to spot! Good luck with the rest of your trip. I envy you. Jimmy Begg, Guide Author and Project Coordinator, Ayrshire Coastal Path

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