138. Saltcoats to Largs

I’m back in Scotland for 3 days finishing  the Ayrshire Coast, walking along the River Clyde and the milestone of this trip – crossing the Erskine Bridge. But first things first. I could see a three-day weather window that I thought would be too good to be missed. So I booked a two night stay at the Waterfront Apartments in Greenock and at £29/night I mustn’t grumble.

I drove to Largs and found a free place to park on the seafront. I then walked the short distance to the train station and caught the 8:53 train to Saltcoats. The morning had a chilly autumnal feel to it, with fog and mist shrouding the islands offshore and a very heavy dew soaking the grass.

The Town Hall at Saltcoats

Today I was mainly following the Ayrshire Coastal Path which clung to the shore resolutely virtually all the way back to Largs. I’d been to Ardrossan before, some years back to catch a ferry out to Arran to climb the Corbetts (hills between 2500 – 3000ft). I walked around the small beach between Saltcoats and Ardrossan with the tide just beginning to flow. As I passed Ardrossan harbour a Calmac ferry was just setting off to Brodick on Arran.

The next 3.5 miles was along the beach or on the small path that ran alongside it. The walking was very easy on firm sand and the beach was quite busy with the usual crowd of dog-walkers and joggers. The sun certainly brought the happy faces out. I passed through West Kilbride, although I saw little, as most of the town is set back from the shore.

Portencross Castle
Hunterston Nuclear Power Station

I eventually rounded Farland Head came upon the ruins of the 13th century Portencross Castle. The ruin looked to be in reasonable condition and offers free entry, although had closed the previous week for the Winter Season. I could now see Little (wee) Cumbrae Island  as well as Millport on Great Cumbrae Island. I stopped and chatted to a dog-walker  shortly after passing Portencross and chatted about dogs, as I normally do! I rounded a large crag to be faced with my fourth Nuclear Power Station on my coastal walks. The good news is that the ACP goes right past Hunterston A & B sites, albeit protected by multiple security fences. I pass down a quiet access road which takes me to the A78. The footpath then runs alongside the main road and is wide. Just as well really, as some nutter driving an Aston Martin, thought he should put his foot down, he must have gone past me at 100mph+. I also passed the other impressive industrial giant at Hunterston, the huge iron ore terminal with its massive conveyor belt system running high over the road and down to the Hunterston Clydeport docks.

Looking north up the Firth of Clyde at Fairlie
Looking across the iron ore terminal to the mountains on Arran
The Pencil monument at Largs

I enter Fairlie, which did not have much to offer, other than sending me down a dead-end road, which was partly down to my own fault. I was now approaching Largs and the sun was out and very warm. The views were abolutely tremendous, including those of Arran, now with all its tops clear of cloud. I passed around a large Marina with a fantastic display of Anchors, I really did not know how types of anchors there could be, but small info boards gave very interesting info. I entered Largs and passed close by The Pencil, a commemorative monument, built in 1912 to recognise the Victory of 1263 when the Scots defeated King Haco of Norway when his 160 ships got caught in a storm.

Because I was going to finish early, I had decided that I would take in  a football game. I was hoping to make the Greenock Morton v Raith game; that’s until, I got caught up in the re-surfacing works on the A78 just outside of Larg. They were running a Convoy System…..and running it badly! Thus by the time I arrived at my accommodation it was almost half-time. Still the weather and views of this part of the coast made it all worth while.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:


Distance today =  17 miles
Total distance =   2266 miles



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