Keith Fergus’ Cicerone guidebook The Ayrshire and Arran Coastal Paths is the ideal companion to these great coastal walks. The fantastic Ayrshire Coastal Path strikes its course for 94 miles from Glenapp in the south to Skelmorlie in the north. Add to this the Arran Coastal Path, which circumnavigates its way round that magical island for 60 miles, and what you have is a truly magnificent coastal walk.
Many people assume that coastal walking is restricted to or mainly follows beach terrain, but that is definitely not true of the Ayrshire and Arran coastal path. Yes the Ayrshire and Arran Coastal Paths do travel over some beaches (and beautiful beaches at that) but this route also journeys across a magnificent and diverse landscape that is home to some remarkable scenery. While a substantial portion of the route takes you away from the well-beaten track it enables walkers to observe the rugged beauty of the coastline and enjoy its peace and quiet.
Furthermore, the coastline has a wealth of wonderful architecture: from the instantly recognisable castles Culzean and Brodick to smaller, hidden gems such as the Kennedy Mausoleum and Glenapp Church. Add to the mix a series of sublime beaches, secluded coves, fantastic wildlife, erratic rocks and boulders, a historical legacy of huge importance, world famous golf courses, old paths and roads and yes, Scotland’s most important literary figure Robert Burns, and you have an enormously rewarding long-distance walk. This is Scotland’s celebrated wild and windswept west coast at its finest.
The route can be walked in 11 days by an average walker but, despite it being well waymarked, a substantial portion crosses some surprisingly remote ground, open moorland and rocky terrain, so reasonable map and navigational skills are a prerequisite. The route is well served by an excellent public transport infrastructure and therefore it can be broken down into lovely one or two-day sections.
The routes can be walked at any time of the year, but the months between April and October offer the best conditions to enjoy them. Some sections are long (as far as 18 miles) and although these can be broken down to suit, they do require ample daylight. During the winter the beginning and end of the route may well finish in the dark. The spring, summer and autumn months also provide the best opportunities to view the wonderful plants and animals en route and allow the walks to proceed in, hopefully, reasonable weather.