River Ayr Way

Distance (km) Ascent (metres) Number of days
66 470 3 - 4
Start: Glenbuck Loch Finish: Ayr

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River Ayr Way (2nd ed)

D Love | Carn Publishing - 2010


Route type and direction

Linear. Traditionally followed westward from source (Glenbuck Loch) to sea (Ayr), but works equally well from sea to source.


The River Ayr Way offers a variety of landscapes, starting in wild moorland rich in natural and industrial history, and following the growing river downstream as it becomes a powerful waterway, driving mills and carving a route through rocky sandstone gorges. The final section follows the river through open farmland and estates before reaching the historic county town of Ayr, finishing at its harbour.


  • Catrine Voes Nature Reserve with historic reservoirs for Catrine’s cotton mill.
  • Ballochmyle Railway Viaduct, which has the longest masonry railway arch ever built (181ft/55.2m)
  • some of Ayrshire’s most picturesque villages, including Sorn and Stair
  • charming landscape which provides habitat for otters, badgers and hen harriers

Be aware

  • landslips have caused the route to be diverted from Wellbank Flat, Stair to Daldorch, which involves some road walking
  • there are no dedicated support services, so you have to organise your own transport, baggage and accommodation

The challenge

The River Ayr Way is an ideal long-distance route for novices, with only a few steep climbs. The distances are modest, but you have to organise your own logistics. The route can be walked over a long weekend, making an ideal short break for visitors to Ayrshire. It is also very popular tackled in short sections as day walks. Marathon athletes could consider the challenge to complete the route in a single day: see the River Ayr Way Ultramarathon (annually in September).


Glenbuck at the start has no facilities. Muirkirk, 1 km off-route from Kames, has a B&B. Sorn has an inn with rooms and a restaurant, and a riverside cafe. Stair has an inn which serves food and offers accommodation. There is a further pub in Annbank. Ayr is a large town with all services and types of accommodation available, including a hostel.

Wild camping is legally allowed in Scotland if practised responsibly under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Public transport

The nearest bus service to Glenbuck is at Muirkirk, 7.5 km along the trail. Sorn is served by buses from Cumnock and Kilmarnock. Catrine – just off-route – is served by bus as is Failford (to and from Ayr) but there are no services to Stair. Annbank (4 km further along the route)  has a bus link to Ayr.

For details, visit Traveline Scotland, or, for the entire UK, Traveline. For travel from anywhere to anywhere, try Rome2Rio.

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