Day 155: Irvine to Fairlie

Distance: 20.90 miles

Ascent: 646 feet

Weather: Sunny Spells

Accommodation: Ferry Row, Fairlie (Kindly Complimentary)


I did not feel as rested as I normally would after a rest day, I think this is because I had got behind with admin over the last few weeks a little due to increased mileage meaning less time and it all caught up with me a bit yesterday. But with a shortish day, good weather, and a kind offer of a bed for the evening I set of merrily.

There is actually a sliding footbridge across the river right near the coast, but it has been left permanently in an unusable open state. This bridge went to a doomed millennium venture ‘The Big Idea’ a museum of Scottish invention, but with a better museum opening in Glasgow it did not have enough visitors to be viable and despite about £10 million being spent on it, it closed within 3 years and never reopened again. I don’t know why they couldn’t have left the bridge in a crossable position as it would make for a much nicer walk along the coast but there must be a reason.

So the Ayrshire Coastal Path took the best route it could out of Irvine, crisscrossing roads and railways but taking a surprisingly green route out to the A78. Once under the A78 I took a slightly different and shorter route across an old industrial area (passing a bit to close to a gipsy site ) and then followed a narrow lane back down to the coast.

Once on the coast I followed the sort of promenade to Saltcoats where I stocked up on supplies in Aldi which surprisingly had a load of walking stuff in the middle aisle but I decided not to get anything. As the tide was low I walked across the small South Bay to Ardrossan. Ardrossan has a regular ferry that I think goes to Arran, and also something I haven’t seen for a while a marina stocked with large yachts.

I had thought the next few miles could be a little boring as it would follow a tarmacked cycle route alongside the road, but as the tide was still low enough I was able to walk along the beach and with the sun just about perfect this part was lovely apart from the fact this stretch of beach stank for some reason. About half way along the beach I could see a guy on a ladder lent against a large boulder and I was intrigued what he was up to, it turns out he was painting a religious message (unfinished as I walked past) onto the boulder.

The path skirted the front of Seamill and West Kilbride, before making its way to Portencross. Portencross though only consisting of a few houses and a castle ruin was very quaint, and in fact the small castle had been done up to an extent and by the looks of it Perspex windows have been added making presumably a useable space inside.

The track after Portencross was lovely at the bottom of a cliff that was just about gradual enough that vegetation and a few trees could grow on some of the crags giving it an almost Jurassic Parkesque feel. At the end of this part, though not visible as you walked along, was the Hunterston Nuclear Power Station, which unsurprisingly was a brute of a building but as regular readers may know I actually quite like some of these industrial buildings and areas and this was no exception. It was mighty impressive to see the water outlet creating a raging torrent about 100m out to sea.

From here after a couple of kilometres following the side of the A78, the path turns off to Fairlie. This village has a lovely approach along a mixture of narrow path by the seawall and the beach and was actually one of the prettiest villages I had seen in a while.

Ailsa from Ferry Row B&B had kindly offered me a free room for the night and it was about as close to the water as you could possibly get. She also kindly fed me some healthy food for dinner and I was definitely in need of something healthy. In fact, with the sunny evening it has been very hard to concentrate on writing this diary as I have constantly been looking at various wildlife on the water through the window

I must also slightly apologize for any slight negatives I have said about the Ayrshire Coastal Path (though most things have been positive) as it is Ailsa’s brother who came up with the idea for the path and implemented it with the help of the Rotary Club.

A sunny, shortish day, with a room with a view what more could I ask for!

charles compton