To celebrate 10 years of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, we invited Ron Ireland, publicity convenor of Ayr Rotary Club, to give us the lowdown of the creation of this popular coastal route and the dedication from local volunteers.
In December 2003, Ayr Rotarian Dr Jimmy Begg was asked to come up with a suitable local project to celebrate the centenary of Rotary International, founded in 1905 by Paul Harris, an American lawyer.
Fast-forward to June 2008 and after a super-human effort on the part of Jimmy and his fellow-Rotarians, the 100 mile long Ayrshire Coastal Path (ACP), running from Glenapp in the south to Skelmorlie in the north was officially opened. The chosen route exploits some of the finest coastal scenery in Scotland with spectacular, panoramic views of Arran, Ailsa Craig, Kintyre and Bute.
The ever-present, natural wildlife and the glorious history of this part of southwest Scotland combine to enhance the appreciative path-walker’s experience. Sections of the route pass through the popular holiday towns of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon and others such as Irvine, Kilwinning and Saltcoats, all adding to the varied charm of this path.
What tho’, like commoners of air,
We wander out, we know not where,
But either house or hal’?
Yet Nature’s charms, the hills and woods,
The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
Are free alike to all.
Success begets success and the Ayrshire Coastal Path is now officially recognised by Scottish Natural Heritage as one of “Scotland’s Great Trails” attracting visitors to Ayrshire from all the ‘airts and pairts’. What distinguishes this path from other trails is the manner in which it is managed and maintained. This is achieved through the commitment of a team of volunteer ‘Pathminders’ now comprising both Rotarian and non-Rotarian members in approximately equal numbers.
The Rotary Club of Ayr is the official path manager and whenever possible, taps into a few, non-governmental grant funds to provide a limited maintenance budget. Despite receiving little or no public funding support, the ACP management board not only maintains the path but organises a hugely successful, annual (now in its 12th year) beach clean along those beach-sections of the route which are not cleaned by the local authority.
This event recognised the #marinelitter plastic pollution problem long before the current environmental concerns took popular root and over the years has removed in excess of
7500 sacks of beach litter containing, this year, an estimated 93% plastic material.
Another fantastic achievement shown in the photo below, is the result of 600+ hours of volunteer winter work in creating around 120 new steps up Fisherton Gully.
Plan your next adventure and enjoy the splendour of the Ayrshire Coastal Path
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