The River Ayr, rises from Glenbuck Loch in East Ayrshire, and makes its way to South
Ayrshire, where it enters the village of Failford onward to Stair and then through
Annbank and the beautiful Estate of Auchincruive.
The Auchincruive estate was originally owned by Richard Oswald, and the gardens
were laid out in the style of Capability Brown with many of the trees and plants
coming from Florida, Jamaica, Bengal and China, (areas in which Oswald often had
financial interests). Auchincruive was one of the first estates to have hot houses
- in which were grown such delicacies as grapes, figs and pineapples, sugar seedlings
were also grown and exported to his Florida plantation.
One of the most impressive features of the estate that can be seen from the walk
along the river walk, are the Hanging Gardens, that were built c.1830 - 1840 by
unemployed miners. A couple of hundred yards further on is Oswald bridge, built
in 1862, adjacent to the Leglen Woods, where there is a cairn to commemorate William
Wallace and Robert Burns and their relationships to the woods.
In 1927 the estate was gifted by the then present owner Richard Oswald to the West
of Scotland Agricultural College.
Continue a walk toward the harbour and one comes to the Stepping-Stones and the
site of the old mill. The earliest record of a mill in this area is of 1594 when
the mill was owned by monks, from then till 1963 there has always been a mill on
this site. The last mill was demolished to make way for the construction of the
Ayr by-pass. This site has for many years been a popular place for picnics and for
a place for children to play when the water is low. The Stepping Stones served to
allow people to cross from the mill to Mainholm Farm, today not only do they serve
a purpose but provide endless pleasure for people to play during the hot weather.
Further down stream on the southern banking is Wallace's Heel. This is a hollow
in the rock, which as the story goes, was reputed to have been made by the heel
of Wallace's foot as he was fleeing from the English. A fresh water spring rises
from this site.
On the same banking is the remains of the old three - draw kiln which dates back
to c.1750. The kiln was used to burn limestone to convert it to lime which was used
as a soil conditioner as well as in the iron industry.
Around this area you may see a few anglers hoping for a successful days fishing.
The River is the boundary to Craigie Estate. From the River Ayr Walk the Estate
house, the formal rose gardens, the viola walk and the Stream Garden are visible.
There are a number of seats in this area from which you can sit and enjoy the scenery,
with various species of ducks, herons and swans as well as grey squirrels who come
to feed. This is also a well-liked spot for people learning how to canoe.
Downstream is the site of the old Nether Mill which was located on the car park
opposite Ayr College. Barley was milled and snuff was produced here. Cruives were
built in to the dam at the time of its construction to allow the salmon to swim
The river has now reached the town of Ayr with buildings on either side; there are
popular paths on either side of the river, which are used regularly by the community.
From here there are three bridges, that of the metal Turners Bridge, the Auld Brig
which is thought to date back to c.1200's when it was constructed out of wood. By
the 1400's the bridge was replaced with a more substantial stone bridge and continued
as the main crossing until the late 1700's. The New Brig was built shortly after
so relegating the Auld Brig to pedestrian traffic only. Today at the Brigs you will
often see a bevy of swans some ducks and cormorants.
The harbour area, has changed dramatically over the centuries, from a small fishing
port to a large and busy harbour for the fishing and coal industries as well as
various other imports and exports. The harbour is now only used by pleasure craft,
the industries have gone and the warehouses demolished to be replaced with luxury
The Ayr Auchincruive cycle route uses a great deal of the walk mentioned so please
remember that it is a Shared Use Path.
Information on fishing on the River Ayr can be found on www.trout-salmon-fishing.com/scotland-river-ayr