The Barrhill to Paisley ride through Ayrshire




August 2011
130 km



Long story......... I was really getting into cycling that summer and was exploring more and more of Ayrshire. The more I explored, the more I liked. So I had a look at the trains and the maps. The Girvan to Paisley ride seemed like a good idea. So I trundled down to the railwaystation in Paisley one morning just to find out that the train was cancelled. So I did the Troon Rtn ride instead that day. A very nice ride in itself so no harm done. I crashed one week later on the Prestwick ride and the bike needed repairs. After the Edinburgh ride, the bike needed even more repairs. I then had a more thorough look at the map again and found out that the next stop from Girvan again; Barrhill seemed a better idea than just Girvan. It is just 20 km added to the ride. So I went for that instead.

I trundled down to Paisley Gilmour Street and the train station again one early morning for the train to Ayr and the connecting train to Stranraer. The train was not cancelled this time so I arrived in Ayr where I got the train to Barrhill after half an hour wait in Ayr. There was three other cyclists too on the train. But they jumped off at Girvan. After watching the landscape from Girvan to Barrhill on that twenty minutes long train journey, I was starting to get second thoughts. The landscape was desolate and the road seemed a bit undulating. The landscape seemed a bit barren and there was rain in the air. I arrived at the desolate Barrhill train station and disembarked.



Barrhill train station

The train station is on a moor, far from any signs of human life. I trundled down a small road for three kilometers which took me to the Barrhill village. A very small village with one school and some scattered houses. I turned my attention to the road ahead, the A 714 and what I thought was up a valley. In fact, it was down a valley.



Down the valley from Barrhill towards Pinwherry

It took me a few hundred meters to discover that both my newly repaired bike and myself was in top form. The ride down this valley to Pinwherry was a great ride. On the map; a ten kilometers ride. But I had so much fun here that it felt far shorter. The landscape was also very good and proves that you only discover the true value of a landscape from a bike.
At Pinwherry, the road was a bit undulating in this very narrow river valley until it crossed the river and became even more narrow. A canyon, no less. This was the start of the climbs up to the mountain over to Girvan. This climb through the railway viaducts was great fun. The scenery excellent.



The climb up from Pinwherry towards Girvan

At the top of this mountain, was saddened when I left this landscape behind. The 20 km from Barrhill to Girvan offers some really excellent bikeriding. So take the train to Barrhill instead of Girvan. That is my advice.
I turned my attention to Girvan. The descent was pretty flat in the beginning before I reached a viewpoint.



Overlooking Girvan from the Barrhill to Girvan road

That view was alone worth the whole xtra 20 km. No picture can do that view any justice. The descent was good too and I was soon down in Girvan. A brilliant looking small coastal town with the rocky island Ailsa Craig 3 km out in the sea from Girvan. A brilliant sight and I forgot to take a photo of it. I was cycling through the town and past the golf course up the coast towards Turnberry. A small climb from Girvan followed before the road dropped down to sea level again and I spotted the lighthouse at Turnberry. The road up the coast to Turnberry was excellent and I was in good form. I arrived in Turnberry and headed for the world famous golf courses there. For us golfers of all ability, the golf courses here is holy land. I had a good look around.



The famous Turnberry hotel from the Ailsa championship course




Overlooking the 18th hole of the Ailsa course with the lighthouse and Isle Of Arran in the background

After a good quarter of an hour long break, sniffing around this holy ground, I continued up the flat coastal road again towards the scenic coastal village called Maidens. The road now climbed vertically from this village for a mile past a caravan park with the best views on the coast.



The caravan park with Maidens, the lighthouse and Ailsa Craig in the background

After admiring the views, I continued up this climb and through a forest and a narrowing valley up to a crossroad. The road to the left would take me the coastal road to Ayr. I will save that road to another day/next summer though. I continued straight up on the B 7023 through a forest towards Maybole. I got a very good overview over the inland of Ayrshire from a viewpoint just before the descent to this village.



Overlooking the inland of Ayrshire, where I was going, from the viewpoint above Maybole

Maybole is a scenic village with a major road running through it. Which is a pity for those who lives there. Maybole is a pretty village, though. I followed this busy road, the A 77 Stranraer to Glasgow mainroad, for a couple of miles before I reached the B 742 road. A small descent into a valley was followed by a steep climb out of the valley up to a hill overlooking Dalrymple. The cycling was good and this small village soon came into view.



Approaching Dalrymple

I had a small break with two sandwiches here and headed out the wrong way from Dalrymple. Instead of contiuning the B 742, I headed onto a long detour on the B 7034 around Hollybush. A 5 km long detour which included a couple of nasty hillclimb. I discovered my mistake when arriving at Hollybush. I had no choice than to go down back the A 713 towards the B 742 I was planning to follow. That included a short steep climb up to the crossroad taking me up the B 742 to Hillhead. This was by no means a disasterous map reading error. It only cost me ten-fifteen minutes. But it was as stupid mistake. I soon learnt that keeping an eye on the maps in the inland Ayrshire is essential here. It is very easy to get lost her. Very easy. The next photos is from this area and I have no clue where they were taken. But they shows the terrain I was cycling through.



Navigating Ayrshire with perhaps Dalrymple below




The inland in Ayrshire and some of the terrain I had to negotiate. I am lost here...

I reached Hillhead and the A 70 Edinburgh to Ayr road after some relentless cycling over the hills. I followed A 70 for some hundred meters before I headed down the hillside on the B 742 again towards the valley below.
The road over to Annbank is both confusing and hard. Confusing because it twists and turns so much that you loose any sense of direction. It is also very undulating. The road is very narrow with some very dangerous turns. Most notably, the turn leading onto the bridge crossing the river The hill after crossing this river is also very steep. This is by no means easy cycling. I was relieved when arriving at the crossroad just north of Annbank. I chose the B 744 here and the hills over to Tarbolton. The road is unrelenting hard with a substantial climb up to Tarbolton, I soon learned when looking back again down towards Annbank and the road where I came up. Hard, but also very scenic along farmfields. This is farmlands and typical Ayrshire. I was soon in Tarbolton and I had another choice to make. Either go more straight onto the hard A 719 ride, which I had explored ten days before on the Prestwick tour, or take a detour on the B 744. I chose the B 744 and got a hard climb out of it up to the A 76 Kilmarnock to Dumfries mainroad. The climb was very hard but the scenery more than made up for the hard slog.
I was soon up at the A 76 which I followed down towards Kilmarnock. At a roundabout, I took the B 7073 under a small bridge to bypass the worst part of Kilmarnock altogether. I arrived at Hurlford and continued straight over the river, over a small hill to Kilmarnock bus station.

The bikeride from Maybole to Kilmarnock had taken a lot out of me and I was seriously tired and not looking forward to cycling over Kilmaurs, Stewarton, Dunlop and Lugton again. I know this road well now. I got some energy drink in a shop outside Kilmarnock and continued up this road. A road which is unrelenting, but not too hard. It has the advantage that the villages are approx 5 km from each others. So I set myself a goal to reach Kilmaurs . Which I did after some climbs. I continued straight through it on my way to Stewarton . After some more climbs and a descent, I reached this village and continued up and under the railway bridge toward Dunlop. Hard cycling followed, but both my mood and my tempo was picking up. I passed Dunlop and headed down the hill to a small valley with a steep climb followed. I climbed it and was soon in Lugton again.
I now had several choices of routes to Paisley, 20 km away. I chose to go up the valley to the Caldwell golf course and then crossing over to the Gleniffer Road (B 775). A very stupid choice, it was. The road was steep from the golf course and the whole route was a substantial detour. And I was really tired now. But I reached the Gleniffer Road which I followed up to the top of the hill. I was very happy to be there. Instead of dropping down to the moor again on this road, I chose a small, more direct road towards Paisley. A much more easy road than the mainroad, it is too. It is mainly flat and have some excellent views the main road does not have. A short, but very steep hill at the end of this road followed and I soon had an excellent view over Paisley again.



Home sweet home after 125 km on the bike

I rolled down this vertical drop and over a small vertical climb down to Paisley and my home where I arrived after ten hours total journey after a hard, but excellent crossing of Ayrshire.


Conclusion



Another brilliant ride, no less. It is crossing Ayrshire from A to Z. This bikeride is also offering some very varied bikeriding. The opening 20 km from Barrhill to Girvan is excellent cycling in valleys with a funny climb at the end. The 10 km from Girvan past Turnberry to Maidens is a great coastal ride. The 50 km from Maybole to Kilmarnock is unrelenting hard bikeriding up and down narrow roads and around dangeroud corners. The final bit to Paisley over Gleniffer is not that hard, but hard enough when exhausted. A better alternative from Lugton to Paisley is going over Barrhead if you are really tired. Most of all; a good map and planning by using Google Maps & Google Earth is essential here. It is very easy to get lost between Maybole and Kilmarnock.
But overall; this is really a great ride I will probably do again with some minor or major variations. I had great fun on this tour.