Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters

The Coig’s five routes will take you on an unforgettable journey around the Clyde Coast and Islands – so when better to start your adventure than in the Year of Coasts and Waters?

The themed year for 2020 celebrates our extraordinary coastlines and shores and our vibrant maritime heritage. Here’s our guide to some of the best experiences to be found, on and off the water!

Find your sea legs on the Firth of Clyde

The Coig’s coastlines reveal dramatic cliffs, sweeping bays and sheltered havens – but you haven’t truly experienced them until you’ve explored from the water! Make your way to one of the traditional fishing ports, bustling harbours or modern marinas to find your boating adventure, whether it’s an hour’s RIB tour, a self-hire day trip or a crewed week-long voyage under sail.

You’ll find opportunity a-plenty at Largs Yacht Haven, where Flamingo Yacht Charters offer skippered and bareboat hires and Sea Clyde awaits with private charters and tours encompassing stunning scenery, abundant sealife and fascinating history.

Along the coast, Clyde Marina is home to Geronimo Sailing, offering one of the most luxurious yacht charters on the West Coast. Troon Yacht Haven and Inverkip Marina also offer boat hire opportunities.

Sailing Yacht, Firth of Clyde © Ayrshire & Arran Tourism

Make a splash!

Don’t mind getting wet? The Coig offers plenty opportunity for adrenaline-pumping experiences on, by or under the water!

Explore the Firth of Clyde’s coast and sea lochs by paddle power, and join Adventure Carrick for an unforgettable stand up paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking trip. Or, for an experience like no other, join an instructor for a coasteering adventure along the shoreline, in and out of the sea. Clamber over boulders and navigate along rock ledges to discover hidden coves or explore sea caves – keep an eye out for local sealife, including common and grey seals.

For an underwater adventure, Primal Adventures create bespoke snorkelling experiences. There’s a whole world underneath the surface of the sea, just waiting for you!

Kayaker and Ailsa Craig

Uncover Scotland’s maritime heritage

Scotland’s coasts and waters have forever influenced our culture and way of life. One of the best places to uncover Scotland’s maritime heritage is at the Scottish Maritime Museum, in the heart of The Shire.

The museum’s buildings and sites form part of the heritage collection, centred around a vast salvaged glass-roofed Govan shipyard engine shop. Learn the stories of the people who built and sailed Scottish ships around the world, explore historic vessels, such as MV Spartan – Scotland’s last Scottish-built puffer, test model boats out on the indoor or outdoor boating ponds and contemplate art and sculpture connected to Scottish maritime history.

Completing the museum’s local heritage sites are MV Kyles, the oldest Clyde-built vessel still afloat in Britain, and the 1920s Tenement Flat. These two rooms offer a glimpse back in time, of how local workers lived their lives. Museum visitors can refresh themselves with a well-earned stop at the Boatshop, home to Puffers Café, the museum’s unique gift shop and the Boatshop Gallery.

Local ambassador for The Coig Elliot Melton is a tour guide at the Scottish Maritme Museum – be sure to check out his recommendations for your visit!

Scottish Maritime Museum

Be inspired on Brodick Beach

No visit to Arran is complete without seeing Brodick Beach and Bay for yourself. While Kildonan offers some of the finest sands, Brodick offers atmosphere by the bucket-load. The beach sits below the dramatic granite ridges of Goatfell’s summit and is ever-watched by the 16th century fortress Brodick Castle. Together, they create one of the most iconic views on the island.

Exploring the long curve of the bay is a feast for the senses – feel the sea breeze on your face, taste the salt tang on your lips, listen to the cry of the seabirds and gaze at the spectacular land and seascape.

Beach at Brodick Bay looking towards Brodick Castle © VisitScotland

Unearth the treasures of Culzean Castle

This magnificent cliff-top castle is a must-visit on any itinerary round The Shire. Designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century, Culzean Castle is filled to the turrets with treasures telling the tales of the people who once called it home.

From stories of aristocratic flamboyance to lengends of terrible deeds and ghostly knights, Culzean has a fascinating history. The impressive estate is just as spellbinding, rising above the cave-dotted sandy coastline, just waiting to be explored. Discover the Swan Pond and deer park, extravagant formal gardens and fruit-filled greenhouses. Will you stumble across one of the secret follies in the woodlands? Or are you brave enough to tour the caves and Culzean’s subterranean secret world?

Culzean Castle From Croy Shore © VisitScotland

Take a two-wheeled tour of Cumbrae

Jump on the ferry from Largs to explore the tiny island of Great Cumbrae under pedal-power. At just four miles long and two miles wide, the island offers two safe circular cycling loops. And yes, they’re mostly flat!

Choose from the East Cumbrae Loop (five miles) or the West Cumbrae Loop (nine miles), or if you’re really keen, combine the two. Both start and finish from the island’s bustling town of Millport, passing Crocodile Rock on the shoreline – you can’t miss this croc’s irresistible roguish grin!

From the East Loop you’ll enjoy views over to Little Cumbrae and Arran. The West Loop passes Fintry Bay, with its stunning red sands and smooth boulders, and provides sweeping vistas of Arran, the Isle of Bute and across the Firth of Clyde.

Bikes on the beach at West Kilbride

Stride out on Bute

The West Island Way has the honour of being Scotland’s first official island long distance footpath, and it doesn’t disappoint. Running the length of the island of Bute, the waymarked 30-mile route takes walkers through a mix of striking landscapes.

Many walkers join the route in Rothesay, Bute’s main town, admiring its beautifully preserved Victorian promenade and visiting Mount Stuart House – world-renowned as an architectural masterpiece. The footpaths lead you along the shoreline and inland into the hills, through open farmland, along forestry tracks and out on to wild heathery moorland. The views on offer are often breath-taking, including stunning coastal panoramas looking over to Arran.

You’ll discover some of Bute’s best natural heritage on your way, including Loch Fad – a fishery and bird-watching site, to the charms of Stravanan Bay. Neolithic relics, an atmospheric ruined chapel and abandoned townships all offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history.

 Scalpsie Bay, Bute © Andy Walters

Join the Year of Coasts and Waters celebrations!

You’ll find a full calendar of spectacular events around The Còig, celebrating Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Here’s our pick of some of the best:

Cryptic Presents Signal at DuskIrvine Beach Park, 21-23 May 2020
Cryptic connect land and sea with sound in Signal at Dusk, a daytime installation and captivating, boundary-crossing coastal opera set against the transitioning sunset sky.

Fife Regatta – Largs Yacht Haven, 4-11 June 2020
A spectacular fleet of famous Fife Yachts return to their birthplace on the Clyde to participate in a unique regatta. Starting and finishing in Largs, the yachts will stop at Holy Loch Marina, Dunoon, Rothesay, Isle of Bute and Tighnabruaich, Argyll for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Making Waves Festival– Irvine Harbour – 18 – 19 July 2020
A brand new weekend seaside festival for families to celebrate the rich traditions of Scotland’s seaside entertainment, with a contemporary edge. With music, arts, performances and fun activities on and off the water.

Largs Viking Festival – 29 August – 6 September 2020
Meet King Alexander of Scotland and King Haakon of Norway on the anniversary of the Battle of Largs, with living history installations in a 13th century living history village.

There are craft demonstrations, a Scottish food fayre and on-stage entertainment. On the last Saturday the festival culminates with a Viking Festival of Fire with a torchlit procession, Viking skirmish, the burning of a symbolic Viking longship and a firework display.

River of Light – Kip Marina, 10 October 2020
This new evening event will see illuminated boats light up the River Clyde, as part of Scotland’s Boat Show 2020. There will also be plenty of entertainment on shore, with food and drink, torchlight processions and other surprises.

See the VisitScotland website for full event listings.

Viking Boat On Fire

Looking for more adventures around The Coig?

The Coig’s five routes offer unforgettable experiences around the Clyde Coast and Islands – take a look and plan your next adventure along The Shire, The Shiel, The Arran, The Bute or The Cumbrae!

Be sure to download The Coig app to discover the best of Ayrshire and the Firth of Clyde on-the-go, and join the adventure with #TheCoig on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.