|Location Map ( geo)|
|NCN 753 passing Cloch Lighthouse on a shared path.|
|Route outline (key)|
NCN Route 753 is a cycle route which will probably one day continue south along the Ayrshire Coast to meet the possible NCN757 at Fairlie, and then continue to Ardrossan. For now, however, it is a series of bits stretching along the coast, being a mainland continuation of NCN75, which itself crosses the Gourock to Dunoon Ferry to Cowal, as far as Inverkip. The next section runs south from Largs, part of which may be the NCN757, and the final section is in Ardrossan itself. Much of what is shown on the map (right) is not yet signed as NCN753, but it is logical to assume that it will one day be part of it.
Starting at Gourock Pier, at the main entrance to Gourock railway station, a shared path leads to the recently realigned (2015) A770.
It should be mentioned here that there is a path which leads to a permanently locked entrance on the side of the railway station (see photo on left), where a further unused path, behind the glass corridor which leads to the ferry terminal, can be seen. It appears that this gate and path were planned to be used to accommodate the NCN, but have never been used. Presently, cyclists must dismount to pass through the station.
The A770 realignment now provides a traffic free bypass for cyclists of the previously hazardous on-road stretch along Kempock Street, which is Gourock's main shopping street. However, the short on-road section at Albert Road, past the war memorial and outdoor swimming pool, still exists.
Beyond this on-road stretch, there is a shared path along the Ashton promenade, which is below the level of the road and is prone to flooding in stormy weather. The path rises sharply back up to road level just before reaching the Royal Gourock Yacht Club, which is the last seafront building until Cloch Lighthouse is reached.
Between the yacht club and the car ferry terminal at McInroy's point, the wide path is still shared with pedestrians.
Although classed as (mostly) traffic-free, the stretch between Gourock Pier and McInroy's point crosses a few car park entrances, therefore care must be exercised.
The car ferry service at McInroy's Point offers a second crossing to Dunoon for cyclists and pedestrians wishing to rejoin NCN Route 75. After crossing the exit from and entrance to the ferry terminal, the route is now truly traffic free all the way to Kip marina at Inverkip.
The scenery is quite stunning on this stretch, from where the Highland Boundary Fault can be seen across the Firth of Clyde, therefore the shared path is very busy with pedestrians, including runners/joggers with headphones and many dog walkers, so care must always be maintained. The path is wide, so there is plenty of space for passing. The stretch south of Cloch Lighthouse was further widened in 2020, to bring it in line with the rest of the route.
Nature watchers can see many seabird species (including diving gannets from Aisla Craig), as well as sea mammals such as seals, porpoises, dolphins and even the occasional Orca pod. There is not as much shipping as before, but look out for submarines, container ships and cruise ships (summer only).
This striking lighthouse was built by the famous Stevenson family in 1796/7. It is a Category B Listed building. It's proximity to the road and NCN 753 make this the most striking landmark on the route. The lighthouse is still in use, but is also a residence, with specially marked car parking bays on the shared path for the benefit of the residents.
Opposite the lighthouse and invisible from the road is a fairly large caravan park on the steeply sloping hillside.
Also along this stretch of the road is a string of beach huts, which probably date back to the 1930s, if not before. These are 'beachcomber' huts, passed down through families from generation to generation, as opposed to the colourful garden shed variety of beach huts seen lined up at resort beaches around the country.
Depending on the time of year, views from the stretch of the route south of the lighthouse to Lunderston Bay might be obscured by foliage.
Lunderston Bay is a picnic area within the Clyde Muirshiel Regional park. It has a safe sandy beach (no lifeguard) which is reputedly the nearest to the centre of Glasgow, play areas, picnic areas and a dog walking area. Facilities include a car park, toilets and a ranger station.
Across the A770 road from the picnic area is a large garden centre with additional restaurant and toilet facilities.
Worth noting here is the cycling toolkit beside the toilets which was installed by a local cycling campaign group. This includes some basic cycle related tools such as spanners and tyre levers, plus an inflator for tyres.
The route veers away from the A770 at Lunderston Bay, but continues to hug the coastline all the way to Kip marina. A few more beach huts are located on this stretch. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the picnic area and sandy beach behind, the bay continues south for another mile before reaching Ardgowan Point on the approach to Inverkip.
The path cuts inland slightly to enter Crowhill Wood at Ardgowan Estate. Other estate paths branch off to the left, leading eventually to Ardgowan House, but the 753 continues to follow the coastline through this mature mixed woodland where deer, squirrels and mink are often seen.
A pair of large concrete blocks on the shore are tank traps from WWII, survivors of when the area was used as a training base for landing craft, long before the marina was built.
Another relic from an earlier age is the remains of The Laird's Dyke, which was a private jetty and summerhouse for use by the Shaw-Stewart family of Ardgowan. The line of the jetty is still intact, but is beyond use. Only the foundations of the summerhouse remain.
At the end of crowhill Wood , immediately beyond The Laird's Dyke, another small sandy beach is found and suddenly, houses appear dead ahead as we approach Kip Marina Village.
From this point, views down the Firth of Clyde are possible, with Toward Point, the Isle of Bute and the Isle of Arran prominent.
Opened in 1971, Kip marina was the first marina in Scotland and only the third in the UK. It stands at the mouth of the River Kip, where it enters the Firth of Clyde.
In the early 2000s, Kip Marina Village was established, this housing development included expansion of the marina, which now has houses on three of its four sides.
In addition to offering yacht related sales and services, there is a large public restaurant and a small cafe at the marina.
Leaving the beach behind, the 753 now goes on-road through the quiet streets of Kip Marina Village to reach the shared traffic-free path at the main entrance to the marina proper.
Inverkip village is on the far side of the A78 and can be reached by means of a ramped footbridge from the marina.
Staying with the 753, the footpath along the A78 Inverkip bypass is wide and separated from the road by a grassy bank with trees. This grassy bank is land that was laid aside (but never used) for a potential dual carriageway when the road was realigned away from Inverkip main Street in the early 1970s.
At the end of the marina, at the southern end of the village, a shoreside car park in a cut-off bend of the old A78 alignment marks the current end of this section of the route, the pavement beyond the village war memorial not really being suitable for cyclists.
Two short sections to the south of this car park were improved and widened in 2016, but are not classed as NCN 753. The first stretch is immediately south of the car park entrance and runs above Inverkip Yacht Club. The railings on top of the retaining wall were also replaced at this time. On the south side of the cottages before the hill to Brueacre Junction, the path on the hill to the former power station junction on the A78 was also widened and improved at this time.
Remainder Of The Route
Brueacre Junction slip roads offer a route away from the busy A78, taking care to note the traffic direction of the one way slip roads on the west side of the road.
This was the junction for the oil-fired and little used Inverkip Power Station, it was built at the same time as the power station in the early 1970s. The power station was demolished in 2010-2013 and the site is zoned for housing. In February 2021, Scottish Power applied to Inverclyde Council for planning permission in principle to build 650 houses on the 100-hectare site, which will be known as Brueacre Village. The application includes cycle paths and will likely incorporate Route 753, perhaps even creating a coastal route all the way to the centre of Wemyss Bay.
Wemyss Bay straddles the A78, although much of it can be by-passed by taking Ardgowan Road over the hill to the 'private road' at the coast. This road emerges at the railway bridge over the A78, where the pavement is narrow and on one side of the road only. This pavement has become busier since a Co-op supermarket opened on the site of Wemyss Bay Hotel in late 2019.
The centre of the Wemyss Bay presents additional challenges with retail businesses, car dealership, railway station, ferry terminal and holiday parks all adding to the mix.
Skelmorlie is immediately south of the ferry terminal. It is likely that from here, the long term route plan will climb up the hill and follow the minor roads used by the Ayrshire Coastal Path to reach Largs, but the climbs are steep and the A78 needs to be used for 200m in the middle, near Skelmorlie castle, although an off-road 'bypass' could possibly be made in the fields here.
Largs, with its wide promenades and shoreside pavements designated as shared use, offers cyclists an almost off road experience from Aubery Crescent in the north, all the way to Fairlie. Roads are briefly encountered at the Cumbrae Ferry terminal in the town centre and at Largs Marina on the south edge of the town, where the route crosses the Marina access road.
A traffic-free shared path runs alongside the railway and the marina compound, with a series of NATO anchors, buoys and other maritime artefacts on display alongside the path, labelled with panels.
Fairlie is where a very low bridge (cyclists dismount) allows the cycle route to pass under the railway, and it slowly converges with the A78, before emerging on the roadside at the entrance to Fairlie proper at the bowling club. Cyclists must then follow the A78 to reach the disputed NCN757 off-road section, although a short detour away from the main road to the coast via Bay Street is possible.
South of Fairlie. Curiously, signage for the NCN753 reappears to the south of the section nominally referred to as NCN757 (although not signed as such anywhere). This leads from the Hunterston Roundabout south into the grounds of Hunterston House, crossing the power station access roads. The route then becomes un-numbered once more as it runs down the avenue to the A78, before quickly turning off again and heading up a side road to reach the B7048 Portencross Road.
The next section of cycle route to be numbered as the NCN753 appears to be a short piece at the northern entrance to Ardrossan. This as yet incomplete section then leads down to the NCN73 near the Arran Ferry terminal.