A nice tour through Ayrshire

April 2008
65 km

I have established a nice tradition of doing this tour as my first tour of the season. The terrain is not too heavy, although pretty demanding as the first tour of the year. The cycling is pretty technical too. I do not buy into the view that Ayrshire is flat and featureless. The roads in Ayrshire has a lot of small hills and technical cycling. Accumulate the hills together during a 50 – 100 kilometres long tour and you get a pretty big mountain. My chosen road from Troon to Paisley is full of small climbs. Some of them are pretty steep. I therefore find this tour very useful and a good shake-up of my body. It also has some cycling I do not find any other places in Scotland than on this tour. The landscape is also facing towards the south and it is therefore a superb early-spring tour. Despite of the nasty climbs and the sharp shock to the system (Read: my legs), I love this tour.

I started this tour with a small cycle down to the trainstation at Paisley where I took the train to Troon. This forty minutes long train journey took me through some fine landscape along some lakes and then along the golf courses from Kilwinning down the coast to Troon. I left the train at Troon and headed up the first and biggest climb of the day. This 125 meters above sea level high hill can be bypassed to the left, but I still prefer to climb it due to the spectacular views on the climb and from the top. The pictures below proves my point.

Troon from the top of the climb.

Looking towards Kilmarnock and the Ayrshire from the top of the climb.

The descent on the other side of the hill is almost vertical, but still pretty funny. It ends up near Dundonald Castle and some tricky cycling to a cross road before I found the road towards Kilmarnock.
The road was pretty flat in typical farmlands, with a couple of hills inbetween. The smells of spring was pretty good. It woke me up from the winter-hibernation. I passed a big motorway and then entered Gatehead. I went for Kilmarnock from this crossroad. I passed the Annan Hills golf course on the way to the outskirts of Kilmarnock. Due the the bad traffic, I bypassed Kilmarnock on my way to Kilmayrs.
I bought some water in a shop on the road to Kilmaurs. The cycling through Kilmaur, through Stewarton and past Dunlop to the crossroad at Lugton was very heavy for my untrained legs and my legs was a bit sore after Dunlop. To my relief, they were not as sore as I expected. It turned out that I was in a good shape. Here are some pictures of this landscape between Kilmarnock and Dunlop.

The climb up from Kilmaur.

After a while, the hills north of Lochwinnoch was starting to dominate the skyline and I felt I was heading home. Encouraged by this, I speeded up through Dunlop and the hill over to Lugton.

The hills above Lochwinnoch from the road between Dunlop and Lugton.

The hill up to Gleniffer Brae came into view just before the Lugton crossroad. The hill always looks scary from here. But it is as not as bad as it seems.

Looking over the valley to the hill leading up to Gleniffer Brae

At the Lugton crossroad, I have the choice of either going over Barrhead and therefore bypassing the Gleniffer Brae or go over Gleniffer Brae. Despite of the pretty hard mountain climb up Gleniffer Brae, I prefer this road.
The road first went down towards Beith for two hundred meters before it went up to another crossroad and then straight up a hill towards the moor at Gleniffer Brae.

The hills above Beith on the road to Gleniffer Brae.

There is one long climb halfway up to the moor. The road is pretty scenic and highly recommended. It eventually reaches the moor and then it fell down to another moor. I had some problems with a faulty tire and the side-wind almost dispatched me into the scenery on this small descent. From the end of this descent, the road was a three kilometres flat drag-race to the foot of a hill-climb which took me up to Gleniffer Brae and the car-park here. This car-park is called “the car-park in the sky” in Paisley and I can understand why. The ice-cream on the top was also nice. The following pictures is taken from here.

Towards north in the direction of Dumbarton and Loch Lomond (not visible) with Ben Lomond in the far distance.

Paisley in the middle and Glasgow to the right from Gleniffer Brae.

The descent to the big lake (in the middle of the picture) was pretty hairy due to the bad tyre. A short, but nasty hill destroyed my hope for an easy ride down to Paisley again. This being my first tour of the year, my legs was pretty sore. But I was still very happy with this tour. The sights, the cycling and the sweat.

This is a good tour.