Location and Access
This section of the Ayrshire coast stretches from Barassie in the north marked by Stinking Rocks (NS 23 3) down to the end of Troon marked by Meikle Craigs (NS 25 285). This takes in North and South Sands, and the Troon Harbour and yacht marina. The harbour has become busier recently with the Seacat ferry to Northern Ireland. To get here follow the ferry signs from A76/A77. There are railway stations at Barassie and Troon on the Ayr-Glasgow line.The best places to park are:
- Troon Swimming Pool (NS 21 14)
- Troon harbour (NS 09 16)
- the car park at NS 07 13
The beaches in this area are clean and popular with walkers (with dogs!), jet-skiers and windsurfers. It is possible to walk along the beach to Irvine. There are good views of the Clyde and the Isle of Arran.
Good parking at swimming pool and ballast bank. View from car parks or metalled footpaths.
National Cycle Route 7 passes near best viewing sites.
This area has three main highlights. Firstly, the harbour is a magnet for gulls in winter, Iceland and Glaucous are often resident, with Mediterranean Gull an annual visitor. The Seacat Jetty and inner harbour are particularly good for close views of the northern gulls. The inner harbour is also good for Black Guillemot (up to a dozen at a time) as well as Eider and Red-breasted Merganser.
The ledges on the seaward-side of the harbour wall is a roost for Kittiwakes, Turnstones, Shags and Cormorants. To view this area park in the old Seacat car park, go down onto the beach and head to the right. This is only possible about an hour after high tide. The wall takes a curve which requires you to walk to the sea edge. As the tide goes out, you will gradually be able to see the wall and the ledges. (See photo on the right) [Addition Aug-2006 by Tom Cameron]
Secondly, the third car park above is good for sea-watching. Offshore can be seen Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Storm and Leach’s Petrel (I’m told!), and all three commoner Divers. The rocks in front have Purple Sandpiper.
Lastly, the North Shore, best seen from the Swimming Pool car park, is a good wader and gull roost. This is where to look for gulls that didn’t appear at the harbour. This area is also worth looking for Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Twite (flocks of up to 40 around the high-tide line) and Brent Geese.
There are decent cafs and restaurants around the Marina and in Troon.