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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (14)
From:  Prestwick (NS346241)
To:  Strathaven (NS697442)
Via:  Muirkirk
Distance:  36.4 miles (58.6 km)
Meets:  A79, A77, A719, B7035, B742, B744, B730, A76, B7037, B713, A70, B745, A71, A723
Former Number(s):  A758, A723
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

East Ayrshire • South Ayrshire • South Lanarkshire

Traditional Counties

Ayrshire • Lanarkshire

Route outline (key)
B743 Prestwick - Beacon Hill
(A70) Beacon Hill - Muirkirk
B743 Muirkirk - Strathaven
This article is about the current B743 west of Strathaven to Prestwick.
For the original B743 east of Strathaven to Kirkmuirhill, now the B7086, see B743 (Strathaven - Hazelbank)

The B743 is along L-shaped route which crosses Ayrshire from near the coast near Prestwick to finish at Strathaven in Lanarkshire.


Prestwick - Mauchline

The route starts at traffic lights on the A79 in the Woodfield area of Prestwick, and heads east along Heathfield Road. This starts off as residential, with blocks of modern housing interspersed amongst the older properties. A signalised crossroads is soon followed by a signalised T junction, after which there is a dramatic change in character with playing fields opening up on the right and a mixture of business and retail units on the left. A group of car dealerships follows, and then two roundabouts give access to a large retail park, the bulk of which lies to the left. After crossing a railway bridge, there are more car dealerships and then a signalised crossroads quickly followed by the signalised Whitletts Roundabout. Both Low Road from the signals and Highfield Drive shortly after allow some traffic to bypass the roundabout on the A77 Ayr bypass, which can be very busy at times as it marks the southern end of the dual carriageway from Glasgow, although the A719 into Ayr town centre is also dualled.

Crossroads with the B742 in Mossblown

The B743 continues ahead and enjoys a brief rural section before the road passes Auchencruive House and its Agricultural College. The former, and presumed defunct B7035 comes in from the left here, serving the small village of St Quivox, while the B743 continues eastwards on a sinuous route across fields to Mossblown. The village is entered on Mauchline Road and meets the B742 at a staggered crossroads on the near side of town, but maintains priority. The route climbs a little to cross a railway line and then passes through a large development of mid twentieth century homes, many of which are either set back behind a tree lined service road or back onto the main route. A block of older houses are passed, and then the route finds a long straight leading out of town. A gentle climb lifts the route up past Shacklehill to a brief multiplex with the B744, which comes in from the left before disappearing off to the north on its way to Tarbolton, a short distance to the north. Half a mile further on, the B730 crosses, near a summit of 124m and is also heading into Tarbolton. Half a mile further on, an unclassified road heading to Tarbolton is also crossed at a crossroads.

The route now dips down more steeply in a slight valley, before levelling out and passing through some woodland to go under the railway line again. A short descent through trees leads to the tiny village of Failford on the banks of the River Ayr, although the river is hardly visible from the tree lined road. A short sharp climb lifts the route back out of the narrow Ayr Gorge and on to the hillside above, as the road follows a straighter route than the meandering river. Some long straights take the route across the undulating landscape and under another pair of railway underbridges to enter Mauchline.

Mauchline - Beacon Hill

Ayr Road leads past modern housing estates which back on to the road and are accessed from a Mini Roundabout. Loudoun Street follows, lined with old stone houses as it climbs into the town centre. It soon becomes one of the main shopping streets, passing shops and other businesses with the parish church on the left. The route then has to dogleg left across the A76 at the signalised Mauchline Cross onto High Street, which is predominantly residential. Beyond a narrow section, with priority into town, the route passes the primary school and then kinks left onto Sorn Road. Before long the edge of town is reached, and the route continues to climb across fields. After a short straight, the route kinks left and then curves through woodland around the summit of Mauchline Hill. A small car park and viewpoint are provided to enjoy the spectacular scenery stretching out to the north, with the route reaching a summit of around 190m.

The route then starts to descend as it continues eastwards, with more hills in the distance. Long undulating straights across fields follow, with a handful of farms and some strips of woodland lining the roadside. It dips down, round some bends, to cross the Burn o'Need, and then climbs a little over a low ridge before dropping back into the valley of the River Ayr. The B7037 comes in from the left in woodland before a steep descent curves round the grounds of Sorn Castle to the banks of the River Ayr. This is followed to Sorn, where the B713 comes in across the river on Sorn Bridge. The village isn't particularly big, being squeezed onto the narrow valley floor, but it stretches for over half a mile along Main Street, with most of the older buildings lying to the west of the bridge. The road begins to climb again at the eastern end of the village, before sweeping round to the left as the ascent steepens through the trees.

Limmerhaugh Muir

A series of long straights then carry the route across the hillside high above the meandering river. Trees line much of the roadside at first, before rough grazing fields take over. There are a scattering of farms up here, mostly set back from the road. After crossing a summit of 221m, the route crosses an area of open moorland, dipping slightly to cross the shapely valley of the Wyndy Burn. A gentle descent leads back down to the River Ayr at Limmerhaugh, with the road winding along the northern edge of the valley. It then crosses the Greenock Water on Greenockmains Bridge before climbing a little, back past the 200m contour. Soon after, it reaches a T-junction on the A70, opposite the small wooded bump of Beacon Hill.

Muirkirk - Strathaven

North of Muirkirk

There's a multiplex to the east for a couple of miles through Smallburn and into Muirkirk before the B743 regains its number. It resumes by turning left at traffic lights amongst the shops in Muirkirk, and heads north along Glasgow Road. This climbs steadily out of town, quickly becoming residential, before passing between an area of woodland and a cemetery. A steepening, windy climb lifts it up to 289m as it goes over a ridge before dropping back down to cross the Greenock Water again on Greenock Bridge. The valley is followed upstream across rough moorland slopes to Head of Greenock Water (not the source but the point where the Water is formed by the meeting of a couple of burns). The route then continues northwest across the spectacularly bleak moors, following the Slot Burn to the watershed and an overall summit of just over 300m. A large forestry plantation is then entered as the route starts to follow the Glengavel Burn downstream.

The trees on the left soon peel back, leaving the road to follow the tree line on the right as it meanders gently downstream. Glengavel Reservoir can be glimpsed in a hollow down to the left, below which a much steeper valley can be seen forming. The road, however, stays on the treeline higher up with a couple of longer straights between the bends. The B745 is met at a T junction at Dungavel, beyond which the forestry comes to an end and the route continues to gently descend across farmland. A couple of farms can be seen on the slopes above and below the road, but this is otherwise a rather featureless landscape as the route snakes gently down into the Avon Valley. At length, a steeper descent drops down to the Avon Water itself, which is crossed at Browns Bridge. A few bends then lift the road up the hill and over a dismantled railway line (the bridge still exists, although the course of the line is not too obvious), after which a dead-straight section leads into Strathaven. The B743 enters town along Muirkirk Road, passing some modern houses and soon bends slightly left to end at a T-junction on the A71.


When road numbers were first allocated in 1922 the majority of the B743 was unclassified: it was only the section between Muirkirk and Strathaven that had Class II status - as the southern end of the B744. By 1932 the B743 had come into existence but only took up the section between the A76 and A70; west of the A76 into Prestwick had been numbered as the A758. However, evidence elsewhere suggests that unclassified roads were rarely elevated directly to Class I routes, suggesting that the B743 may briefly have extended into Prestwick in the 1920s.

At some point between 1932 and 1936, the B744 was renumbered as an extension of the A723 and this situation continued into the 1970s. It was not until the late 1980s that the B743 was given its current length, being extended in both directions along the two A-roads. This has given the route its long multiplex along the A70.

Related Pictures
View gallery (14)
B743 to Muirkirk - Geograph - 353800.jpgThe B743, Auchincruive - Geograph - 1149437.jpgThe B743 near Burntshield - Geograph - 992748.jpgBigL 20200824 204507.jpgBrown's Bridge - Geograph - 3872131.jpg
Other nearby roads
B700 – B799
B700 • B701 • B702 • B703 • B704 • B705 • B706 • B707 • B708 • B709 • B710 • B711 • B712 • B713 • B714 • B715 • B716 • B717 • B718 • B719
B720 • B721 • B722 • B723 • B724 • B725 • B726 • B727 • B728 • B729 • B730 • B731 • B732 • B733 • B734 • B735 • B736 • B737 • B738 • B739
B740 • B741 • B742 • B743 • B744 • B745 • B746 • B747 • B748 • B749 • B750 • B751 • B752 • B753 • B754 • B755 • B756 • B757 • B758 • B759
B760 • B761 • B762 • B763 • B764 • B765 • B766 • B767 • B768 • B769 • B770 • B771 • B772 • B773 • B774 • B775 • B776 • B777 • B778 • B779
B780 • B781 • B782 • B783 • B784 • B785 • B786 • B787 • B788 • B789 • B790 • B791 • B792 • B793 • B794 • B795 • B796 • B797 • B798 • B799
Earlier versions: B705 • B706 • B707 • B708 • B713(E) • B713(W) • B714 • B715 • B716 • B724 • B727 • B730 • B734
B735 • B736 • B739 (S) • B739 (N) • B743 • B744 • B746 • B752 • B761 • B762 • B763 • B765 • B773 • B783 • B785 • B789 • B791 • B795
Anomalous numbers: B77

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