Cycle Route 7 is a long distance route between Inverness and Carlisle. We’ve already explored the lovely rural Glasgow to Lochwinnoch section, and were keen to experience the Ayrshire coast, which is easily accessible from Glasgow. The weather forecast was iffy, but we carried on regardless and were rewarded with a mostly sunny day which deteriorated rapidly towards the end. It’s a varied ride taking in historic towns and esplanades, weird industrial estates and vast beaches. Recent trips have been pretty awesome, so I guess it’s no surprise that our day trip felt a little mediocre in comparison.
Distance: 16 Miles
Terrain: Cycle paths – mostly quiet, but occasionally alongside motorways.
Time it took us: 5 hours, including detour along the ‘Lang Scots Mile’, taking photos, stopping for lunch in Troon, and sheltering from torrential rain for some time under a tree.
At Ayr, we headed to the seafront, or ‘Lang Scots Mile’ (as it’s been dubbed by the local council, anxious to promote the Robert Burns connection). From there we joined Route 7 then cycled through the busy town centre. After that it’s a weird and winding way through uninspiring ‘burbs and industrial estates to the golf course where Prestwick begins.
A pleasant ride along Prestwick esplanade was cut irritatingly short by a sharp right turn away from the beach. More industrial stuff lead to an unpleasant footpath by the motorway and Prestwick Airport, but eventually gave way to a quieter railway path and Royal Troon Golf course.
Troon Esplanade is nice, and has lovely views of Arran on the distant horizon. We were hungry at this point, so stopped off for lunch at The Anchorage Hotel Restaurant. After another motorway stretch, we found ourselves on a quiet path next to the Irvine Paper Mill. Surrounded by nature reserves, this part is very pleasant with butterflies and Himalayan Balsam adding some colour to the drab conifer woodland.
Midway between Troon and Irvine, the skies opened and we were quickly drenched. The rains let up a bit by the time we got to Irvine, so we took a brief detour to visit Puffer Cafe part of the Scottish Maritime Museum. The Linthouse part of the museum was closed for renovation but we’d love to go back when it reopens. After that, we jumped on the train just in time to escape another torrential downpour. How I wish we could have continued, because by then it was becoming more enjoyable. With hindsight it might have been better to start at Troon to avoid some of the more dreary parts of this route, but at least we’ll know for next time.
How to get there: Direct trains from Glasgow Central to Ayr (1 hour), and Irvine to Glasgow (35 mins)