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A78/Flood Gates

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A78 Flood Gates
A78 Flood gate - Geograph - 440723.jpg
Flood gate south of Skelmorlie
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Two sections of the A78 south of Wemyss Bay and north of Largs are prone to closure when tide and weather combine to flood the road with not just seawater, but an array of rocks, seaweed and floating debris. The affected sections run directly along the Firth of Clyde coast, with nothing but metal railings to separate the road from the sea for much of the way. High tide and storm surges can cause the road to flood occasionally, but the real threat to road safety comes when a high wind is added to the mix.

Each section has two gates, one at each end, which block the lane into the section, leaving the exit lane from the section free. The distance between the two sections is only around 700m.

The Skelmorlie Section

Rock armour alongside the A78 at Skelmorlie

The Skelmorlie Section runs for around 1300m from The Hydro Steps in Skelmorlie to the junction with Eglinton Terrace. Around 1000m of this section runs along the sea wall.

In the late 1990s, rock armour was placed along the shore for the entire length of the sea wall through Skelmorlie, extending south beyond the south gate. This was intended to lessen the effect of the flooding by causing the waves to break sooner, as opposed to breaking directly onto the sea wall and cascading onto the road.

Turning circle and flood gate at Skelmorlie

The first gate in the Skelmorlie section is encountered when heading south from Wemyss Bay, immediately beyond a small turning circle on the east side of the road in Skelmorlie. This turning circle is provided to enable long vehicles to enter or exit Long Hill by avoiding the sharp turn on to the A78 by heading south for 200m and using the turning circle to turn north there. There are caravan parks in the Upper Skelmorlie area and this feature is used by caravaners amongst others.

It can also be used by regular A78 south bound traffic to return north and use the appropriate diversion (depending on the type of vehicle) if the flood gate is closed.

The gate is almost concealed by long grass and shrubbery in the summer months.

The south gate at the Skelmorlie section

The second gate in the Skelmorlie section is encountered at the last house in the south end of Skelmorlie. Eglinton Terrace provides a detour route through Upper Skelmorlie to the first gate.

When open, the gate is locked parallel to the railings and is probably not noticed by the casual passer-by. The photo shows the close proximity of the road and the sea at this point. The diversion arrow which will be used when the gate is closed can also be seen.

The North largs Section

The A78 running along the sea wall near Knock Castle lodge

The North Largs Section runs for around 5300m from the junction with Meigle Road, south of Skelmorlie, to the junction with Routenburn Road at the former Netherhall Lodge. Not all of this section is directly on the sea, but the extents of the section are also determined by the available detour roads.

As with the Skelmorlie section, some rock armour was added along this section, primarily at the Meigle bends.

The north gate of the North Largs section

The first gate in the North Largs section is encountered when heading south from Skelmorlie. Meigle Road C118 (North Ayrshire), which has a ninety degrees bend and 20% gradient within the first 300m is the only available detour on this section. However, probably only small vehicles will have made it this far south through the Skelmorlie section anyway.

This gate was replaced by a new unpainted galvanised steel gate of a slightly different design since the photo on the left was taken (see the gallery).

The gate can be seen on the left, the diversion route is in the foreground

The second gate in the North largs section is encountered just after the bridge over Noddsdale Water at Routenburn Road C118 (North Ayrshire).

Routenburn Road is the south end of the diversion which begins at Meigle Road.

NCN73 • NCN75 • NCN753 • NCN757 • A78 • T91 (Britain)
Ardrossan • Ayr • Greenock • Inverkip • Irvine • Largs • Wemyss Bay
Related Pictures
View gallery (137)
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