335 Troon to Irvine

It rains all morning. Hard downpours, interspersed with grey Scottish smirr. I sit in my car and wait until the worst of it clears. Then I unfurl my umbrella and set off to follow the Ayrshire coastal path around the North Bay of Troon.

01 North Bay, Troon, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I walk through a little park, where a man is scalping the grass with a sit-upon mower, leaving a trail of wet grass clippings and churned mud. What’s the best thing about walking in the rain? No hay fever!

The tide is high and the beach is shingly. I stick to the promenade.

02 Troon, North Sands, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

As soon as I see a decent patch of sand, I drop down to the shore. There’s a fretful wildness to the weather and the sea is ruffled by choppy waves. My umbrella bobs and bounces with the breezes, but at least I can keep my camera dry and take some photographs.

03 Barassie Sands, Troon, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Few people go out on a day like this, and I almost have the beach to myself. Only a couple of dog walkers.

Across the water, the Isle of Arran is hiding beneath a smother of cloud, while out in the firth a couple of large cargo vessels float without making any progress. A dark cone – a lone sentinel – sits just off the shore. I check my map… that must be the marker for Lappock Rock.

04 Lappock Rock, Isle of Arran, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

The dull weather makes for poor photography, so I don’t stop very often. This, and the firm sand, means I make rapid progress.

Ahead, somewhere in the murk, is Irvine. Birds wheel above me. In the distance I spot insects crawling near the water. I wipe my glasses clear of drizzle. Not insects, people. Walking with their dogs.

05 walking the Ayrshire Coastal Path, Ruth hiking to Irvine

To my right a line of dunes run along the top of the beach. I hear the odd clicking noise. Metallic. Weird. But familiar… yes, definitely a sound I’ve heard before. Eventually, I realise it’s the noise of golf balls being struck.

[Later, when I check my map, I see there are several golf courses lurking just beyond the dunes. FOUR of them, in fact. Yes, the Scots certainly love their golf!]

The official route of the Ayrshire Coastal Path runs along the top of the dunes, but these are badly eroded in places. With my camera on zoom I take a photo of what remains of wooden walkways, now smashed and dangling down the sandy slopes.

06 dune erosion, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

There are signs of industry behind the dunes and beyond the golf links. Tall chimneys and the tops of buildings peek over. But here, down on the beach, is a world utterly devoid of manmade structure.

I walk close to the waves, across ridged sand that gleams with water and is speckled with worm castings. Another warning marker sits straddling some danger just off the beach. The clouds over Arran remain dark and stormy…

07 Isle of Arran from Irvine Bay, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

… but, on this side of the firth, the sky brightens slightly and – finally – the rain stops.

I’m approaching Irvine, where I was expecting to see a town – houses and an esplanade maybe – but all I can spot along the beach is a car park. Is that it?

08 Approaching Irvine, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Where there’s a car park, there will be people. Sure enough, I soon come across other people out walking. Arran, still angry under brooding clouds, makes a splendid backdrop for photographs.

09 strom clouds over Arran, Ruth hiking the Ayrshire Coastal Path

I head towards the car park. From somewhere comes the jangle of a guitar band. Is there a music festival going on?

10 Irvine Beach, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

The steps up to the car park are etched with lines from poems. “Nae man can tether Time or Tide”. Robbie Burns, of course.

11 Robbie Burns quote on steps, Irvine, Ruth Livingstone

The car park straddles the base of a stone and concrete jetty, and over the other side is the mouth of the River Irvine. Here rocky groins divide the river bank into segments of beach, with warning poles sticking up like a series of exclamation marks along the side of the channel.

12 mouth of River Irvine, Ruth walking the Ayrshire Coastal Path, Scotland

At the end of the walkway, a line of stones continues out into the water. Here’s another one of those compass-like circles, but this one is more ambitious than its counterpart in Troon. Irvine points to places on different continents.

Hong Kong, China. 5,196 nautical miles. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 4,331 nautical miles. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 6,172 nautical miles. Why do I need to know this? Ah, more useful – Tobermory, Isle of Mull, 76 nautical miles.

13 distance compass, Irvine Beach, Ruth Livingstone

I balance my camera and take a self-portrait. As I’m waiting for the timer, a cyclist appears. He gives me a funny look… why is that woman smiling at me? And then the shutter goes CLICK, and he realises.

14 Ruth Livingstone on Irvine Harbour point, hiking in Scotland

We get talking. He lives locally and cycles in all weathers. Goes all over the place and recommends a visit to the Isle of Arran. Yes, Arran is on my planned route, I tell him. I’m going to use it as a stepping stone over to the Mull of Kintyre.

The guitars start up again. I ask if there’s a music festival nearby. No. It’s a circus.

When I leave to walk into the town, I pass the field where the circus tent stands. The music has stopped and is replaced by a bellowing voice. Someone inside is announcing the acts.

15 circus tent, Irvine, Ruth's coastal walk

I’m walking beside the river, along a path / cycle way, past a weird stone sculpture that looks like some sort of mollusc…

16 sculpture, Irvine Harbour Park, Ruth Livingstone

… and past a derelict landing platform, festooned with faded memorials. Did someone drown here?

17 jetty with memorials, Irvine Harbour Park, Ruth's coastal walk

A few yards later, I come across a strange sight. A bridge with a gap. Looks like the middle section was deliberately taken out. Weird. The bridge is actually quite attractive, with lattice metal work patterns along the sides.

18 missing link footbridge, River Irvine, Ruth's coastal walk

Then I remember Kieran Sandwell, another coastal walker who I met a few days ago in Ayr for a drink and a chat. (Kieran is walking to raise money for the British Heart Foundation: atrailoftwohearts.com.) He told me of a horrendous day fighting through a maze of fences and barriers just north of the River Irvine. He didn’t make his way through to the bridge he was heading for. Just as well because he later discovered the bridge was broken.

This must be Kieran’s broken bridge!

A sign informs me the area – Ardeer Peninsula – is being redeveloped. [Later, I do some research and discover this was once an industrial complex, the Stevenston Site, where explosives were manufactured.]

19 Ardeer Peninsula Regeneration, Irvine, Ruth's coastal walk

No sign of redevelopment yet. Shame. The place certainly needs sprucing up.

For example, a little further along, I walk past a group of neglected sheds, and a building that turns out to be the Irvine Sub Aqua Club. Not the best clubhouse I’ve ever seen.

20 Irvine subaqua club, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

And then a decaying cottage. Love the rusty clock on the wall. There’s a new-looking blue sign mentioning someone called Robert Wylie, who used to be a Harbour Master. I assume this was his home, or his office, or both.

21 Irvine abandoned cottage, Harbour, Ruth hiking the Ayrshire Coast Path

Train lines run through the pavement, hinting that this was once a busy port. It’s a pity the left hand side is screened with rusty fencing, preventing a view of the river, because this could be a lovely approach to the town.

22 harbour road, Irvine, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Further on is a row of new housing, and a pleasant area with pubs, hotels, and a wonderful bronze statue of man and his horse. Really excellent.

23 horse and man scupture, Irvine, Ruth Livingstone

Finally I get to walk beside the river. Sailing ships are moored in the water, and working boats too.

24 Irvine waterside, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

The pavement is punctuated with stones carrying a medley of words. Scottish words. Tatties and neeps? Those I understand to be potatoes and swede. And a I certainly know what a dram is – a measure of whisky. Most of the other words… are a mystery!

25 Scottish words, Irvine, Ruth Livingstone

This is a great little project – The Scots Words Trail. Love it.

A nearby takeaway shop catches my eye. Not the “hot and cold food” part, but the sign underneath the window. “Funerals from £1,560.” I hope that’s not a reflection on the quality of the food!

26 Rool Shop, Irvine, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

On the wall beside an old boatyard is a wonderful mural. A real trompe l’oeil and very convincing, right down to the “No Entry” sign.

27 boat shop mural, Irvine, Ruth Livingstone hiking the coast

I stand for some time taking photographs. Certainly these are great attempts to rejuvenate Irvine’s old harbour area and create interesting features. Very enjoyable too.

This was a short walk and was supposed to be a short blog post. As usual, I found far too much to write about… sorry.

Miles walked today = 7 miles
Total around the coastline of Britain = 3,474 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 20 Ayrshire and Arran and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to 335 Troon to Irvine

  1. The “mollusc” is a fishing boat riding a giagantic swell. You can see its net full of fish protruding on the far side. Not the prettiest of sculptures but an intriguing design, I thought.

  2. Anabel Marsh says:

    I love this area and have blogged about it a few times. The bridge is not broken, it was designed to slide and led to a short lived millennium projects, The Big Idea, on Scottish inventions. And you seem to have missed the dragon! See https://anabelsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/troon/

    • I saw *something* up on the hill overlooking the beach, but I thought it was an old ruin, and my map didn’t mention it. Oh, no – I missed the dragon! Going back to Irvine in a few days, so will definitely go and visit it. Great blog post, by the way. Thanks Anabel.

  3. Hi Ruth!
    We passed by that “broken” footbridge back in 2011, six years ago. (See Walk 280 at http://leftatbognor.blogspot.com ) It was in the same state then, with a notice saying the site was going to be redeveloped — so a lot of nothing has gone on in the meantime! Approaching it from the other direction, fortunately we had the foresight to recce the route by car the day before when we discovered the state of the bridge. This saved us fighting through a maze of fences and barriers as your friend Kieran did!
    I am delighted to say that I am back on the coastal trail after a break of two years. Only short walks at mo because I am “running in” my new knees! (Left was replaced August 2016, right at the end of January 2017) But as the muscles strengthen I will be able to walk faster and further, hopefully to finish the whole coast before something else packs up. To think that this time last year I was on crutches and couldn’t even walk round a supermarket!

    • So glad you’re walking again, Rosemary. Gently does it… and yes, your walking distance will soon improve. Interesting and rather sad to hear the site has made no further progress towards redevelopment. In the southeast of England, it seems everybody fights over the smallest patch of land, whilst elsewhere in the country there are acres of land we don’t use.

  4. Hi Ruth! Just to let you know I finished my walk around the Coast of England at 7-30pm on 25th July walking from the Lizard and emerging from the mist at Land’s End, to pose under the signpost. Three days earlier I had arrived at Land’s End From St Ives, so the Northern Crimson Worm won the race. Right now I’m still recovering at home but preparing for the Walk around the Welsh Coast Path, and also trying to make the most of very soggy records whilst finishing the final episodes of The Blog. It may be some time!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  5. 25th July, 7-30pm – Walking round England – finished at Land’s End twice – once from St Ives, and once from The Lizard. Blog to follow when I’ve recovered. Wales next….. All the best Bob McIntyre

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  6. Olga Godim says:

    Hi, Ruth. This is a fascinating series of posts. I have never been in those parts and probably never will see any of them personally, but through your posts, I could at least have a glimpse. Thank you.
    Thanks for visiting my blog today.

  7. Karen White says:

    I know some of the words on the stone – clootie is a type of dumpling rather like a xmas pud, neeps – swede, crowdie – a dessert made with raspberries, oats, cream cheese, sugar and whisky, collops – slices of meat, bubblyjock – turkey, tatties – potatoes. I don’t know the others but probably all food.
    I do love good examples of trompe l’oeil, saw some lovely ones in Builth Wells a few years ago.

  8. jcombe says:

    That missing bridge is annoying isn’t it! I could hear the sound of motorbikes as I approached Irvine. I think they were riding around in the old industrial area on the north side of the river (whether officially or not I don’t know).

    Still a lovely long beach walk. The board walk is still like that (all falling down) but the beach is wide enough it’s nicer to walk down there anyway). When you see the “path” south of Ayr it seems surprising to me they went to all the expense of installing that board walk at all.

I welcome your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s