Ayrshire Coastal Path: 1 – fairy foxgloves and standing stones

9.54 miles 4h 21m ascent 209m

Glen App Kirk- Ballantrae

Behind yon hills where Stinsiar flows,
‘Mang moors an’ mosses many, O

Robert Burns

This was our first section of the Ayrshire Coastal Way, taking us from Glen App Kirk over hills and across moors to Ballantrae and the River Stinchar. Nine and a half miles, but 15.3 miles according to my GPS tracker which seemed to think I had gone across Loch Ryan. There are two options for this section: one takes a “Clifftop route” between the Shallochwreck Burn and Downan point, while the other, the “Scenic route” meanders along farm tracks and (very) minor roads about a kilometre inland. I would usually have chosen the clifftop option but some descriptions I had read suggested it was closed, while others painted a disconcerting picture of electric fences and dangerous paths needed to avoid bulls etc. What with having the dogs with us it seemed prudent to choose the Scenic Route.

As I mentioned, we started near Glen App Kirk at the official start point for the Ayrshire Coastal Path (ACP). There is a small car-park under the trees on what was the old A77, just past the white cottage but someone had decided it was a good spot to store several tons of gravel. We did manage to squeeze the car in though.

Glen App Kirk

The path starts with a gentle climb up the side of Sandloch Hill. The hillside and hedgerows dominated by a plant the forestry commission describes as Scotland’s most threatening invasive non-native plant – the rhododendron.

Rhododendrons above the Bridge of Mark

We came to a locked farm gate, but with enough of a gap for the dogs to squeeze underneath, but then another one with no such gap. Mabel, being tiny was able to get under the fence but we had quite a palaver getting Christy to crawl through a wee gap.

Loch Ryan from near the first locked gate
Blarbuie Standing stone

The Blarbuie standing stones are “of national importance” according to Historic Environment Scotland but I’ll have to admit to being somewhat underwhelmed. I might have walked right up to the stone but the Spaniel-ometer of wetness bounded before me. The splashes followed by a couple of kerplunks put me off.

Glen App Kirk, when a car park is not a carpark, Water of App, Bridge of Mark, climb to the shoulder of Sandwich Hill an views of Loch Ryan, sunshine, rhododendrons, underwhelming standing stones, spaniel-ometer of wetness, Nickaloggie Burn and the beginning of real roads, Black Glen burn, the alternative route, cows in fields, locked gates, Kilantringan Woods, lunch, Low Ballochdowan, the milking shed, wind shaped trees, cattle grids with gates that didn’t open, views of Mull of Kintyre, Ailsa Craig (of varying size), Arran and Holy Island, Glenapp castle (at least its gate), cemetery without a church, the Garleffin stones, Ardstinchar castle, the auld brig, War Memorial, the River Stinchar, Ballantrae, period drama and post apocalyptic version, Kennedy Mausoleum, foreland, Ballantrae in bloom, wind, fairy foxgloves, forgotten comfrey, fuchsia hedges

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