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SEE & DO
This map lets you find the perfect places in Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae for your watersport as well as providing useful tips and advice.
What to See & Do
Events From spectacular sailing regattas to kitesurfing championships, and windsurfing competitions to major international dinghy races, Ayrshire is home to a superb range of watersports events throughout the year. Plus the region is host to a wide variety of events back on land. So whether you’re seeking the challenge of a competition or simply to enjoy the spectacle of the race from the shore you can find out what is on across Ayrshire and the islands of Arran and Cumbrae with the comprehensive events listing available on the website below.
If you are keen to participate competitively in a particular watersport in Scotland then we recommend you check out the website of the governing body for your watersport available on this site. The Scottish Sailing Institute is also a good source of information for competitions and you can visit the website here.
What to See & Do Using the interactive map you can explore all that Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae have to offer on water and on land. This beautiful Scottish region is characterised by striking contrasts: rolling green hills, a varied coastline, sandy beaches and island adventures. Step ashore to enjoy a host of land based outdoor activities including cycling, walking and golf. You can also take time to enjoy and be inspired by the region’s rich culture and heritage.
In addition to exploring the interactive map you can also visit the following websites for additional inspiration and information.
With Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae being popular tourist destinations there is a wealth of accommodation types available to suit all. If not staying overnight aboard a yacht there are plenty of accommodation options available on shore. Whether you’re looking for, a luxury Scottish resort hotel with stunning sea views, a cosy self-catering cottage, a comfortable guesthouse, or a space to pitch your tent you’ll find it here. You can identify some accommodation options and places to visit close to your chosen location on our interactive map of Ayrhsire. With a great choice to suit all budgets you can find out about the different types of accommodation on offer from the following websites.
Ayrshire has a spectacular coastline encompassing the stunning islands of Arran and Cumbrae and provides excellent access to the sheltered waters of the Firth of Clyde, which have a world-class reputation for sailing and are a truly wonderful playground in Scotland for island hopping and a host of different watersports as you’ll discover on our interactive map.
From windsurfing to kite surfing and sea kayaking to paddle boarding, watersportscoast.com provides all you need to plan your activity on the Ayrshire coast in south west Scotland. There is information on where to find tuition, try out an activity and where to hire or buy equipment. Plus the interactive maps are a great source of information on the many locations available for different watersport activities in this beautiful part of Scotland. With tide times, weather forecasts, nautical charts, and information about the key coastal access points and facilities, watersportscoast.com is ideal for locals and visitors seeking to enjoy the outstanding coast all year round.
The region is synonymous with yachting and leisure boating, and boasts several fully serviced marinas, the Scottish Sailing Institute, a range of pontoons, sheltered anchorages and numerous yacht charter companies catering for novice sailors and world-travelled yachtsman alike. If you have a passion for yachting, a competitive edge for racing, or simply like to potter about onboard, you’ll find Ayrshire and the waters of the Firth of Clyde are simply unrivalled for quality sailing. The islands of Arran and Cumbrae add to the adventures that can be enjoyed and present additional opportunities for exploring.
Arran is surrounded by water and as such is a watersports enthusiasts’ play area! Take to the water for a day’s sea kayaking adventure or an exhilarating excursion by power boat, or back on land you can venture up Goatfell – at 2866 ft (874 metres) it’s the highest peak on Arran. Often referred to as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran has a diverse range of stunning landscapes, an abundance of wildlife and a beautiful coastline with each village offering a range of facilities and options for enjoying the water. Some villages have small slipways that you can access by dinghy and at Lochranza there are step-ashore facilities. Many local businesses and accommodation providers can offer showering facilities, transport and even laundrettes. Take time to enjoy Arran from the sea!
Cumbrae has a coastline of just over 11 miles (18 km) and is home to the sportscotland National Centre for watersports where you can learn everything from windsurfing to power boating and sea kayaking to dinghy sailing all under the supervision of fully qualified instructors.
To ensure you enjoy your adventures on the Ayrshire coast we’ve included some friendly advice, which if followed will help keep you safe, plus some points that will help protect the sensitive coast and marine environments. Check out our SAFETY page.
So for those seeking to immerse themselves in new experiences both on and off shore Ayrshire truly presents the perfect opportunity and you can start exploring now on our interactive maps.
Acknowledgements Thanks to the following organisations for their research, data and support of this project:
BE PREPARED When heading out to the coast, you should always expect the best and be prepared for the unexpected. Being prepared will set you up to handle most challenging situations and also avoid many difficult ones. If you are unsure of what equipment is necessary or the skills required, it is recommended that you get some training from a professional provider or organisation. Each watersport has different requirements in terms of kit and you should seek advice before heading out.
STAY CONNECTED Always be prepared and have a reliable form of communication, which in some cases can be a mobile phone. Bear in mind that some mobile phone networks are not always available or are not consistent at the coast. Some areas particularly in parts of southern Ayrshire and Arran have limited or no coverage. It is advisable to check the coverage with your particular mobile network provider prior to visiting. We recommend you have a VHF Radio to call for help and training to use one properly would be useful.
DRESS APPROPRIATELY Dress appropriately for the conditions and the sport you are participating in. Always wear some form of personal floatation. Buoyancy aids are suitable for activities where you are guaranteed or very likely to be in the water. They provide 50 newtons of floatation to the user through foam pads and are for use when help is close at hand. Lifejackets should be worn when you are in a situation where help is not close at hand and when you are not expecting to enter the water. These can be in the form of foam pads or air inflated bag when a toggle is released. These will keep the users afloat for longer periods of time and will usually bring the user face up if they fall in. When wearing a lifejacket, make sure you are wearing a crotch strap with it because without one the lifejacket can ride up and not support the user.
If you are likely to get wet or there is a strong possibility of ending up in the water, you should wear are wetsuit or drysuit. Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between the user and the neoprene rubber skin. This is heated up by body heat and keeps the user warm. Drysuits keep the user dry and they can wear warm clothes underneath to keep themselves warm. They have latex or neoprene seals at the wrists and neck and keep water out. Wetsuits are generally less expensive and provide an effective way of staying warm on the water.
If you are conducting a sport on the water where you are expecting to stay out of the water, you can consider waterproof trousers and tops. These can be of a breathable variety which wick away sweat or less expensive but durable versions. You should use these waterproofs as part of a layering system with base, mid and outer layers. You can adapt the layers you wear according to the conditions and temperature.
You should also protect your extremities with good footwear, gloves and hats. Footwear should be non-slip and sturdy to protect your feet and keep them warm.
FIRST AID When participating in activities on and around the sea, you should have a means of administering first aid either on a bigger boat with a first aid kit on board or a kit easily accessible on the shore. Knowing how to use one can save a person’s life so taking a course on first aid would be a highly advised. Having spares of everything such as clothing and spare parts can help you enjoy your activity more. Having a spare part means a small issue with your equipment is easily fixed and you can continue your session.
KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE Local bylaws in the coasts of Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae require that you do not impede or restrict the movement of shipping at any time along the coast. You should avoid the shipping lanes as much as possible to avoid any situations. Ferries also operate in this area and especially when manoeuvring, we recommend you keep 200m from them. Military vessels also use this water with the Royal Navy base at Faslane, situated in the Clyde estuary. The military vessels traveling through this area can be local or foreign and many have escort vessels. It is recommended that you keep a safe distance from these vessels and are prepared to change your route if required.
TRAINING AND TUITION Training is key to safe participation in watersports and we recommend when you wish to try a new sport, you attend a taster session to find out more about the sport, and to decide whether you like it. From there, you can get training to help you safely enjoy the activity. Find out more about the watersport from the sport’s respective governing body.
The RNLI is the UK’s lifeboat service. It is a charity which aims to save lives at sea and stop people from getting into danger in the first place. They provide useful information for staying safe on the sea on their website - rnli.org
CONSIDER THE ENVIRONMENT At various times of the year, there are nesting birds in locations around the coastline. You should not approach these birds and keep any pets on a leash. The main nesting season for UK birds is the summer months from March until August.
The Green Blue campaign is run by the Royal Yachting Association and the British Marine Federation to promote responsible boating around our coasts and beyond. They focus on Sailing and Powerboating but the advice they provide is applicable for all users. Some key points they promote include:
Never allow rubbish or waste to go into the water, dispose of responsibly
Most access points have litter bins on site and can take small items. Marinas also have larger commercial size bins for use.
Use on shore toilets where possible. (Many access points in the area have toilet facilities located on site, which are either free or have a small cost per use. Please note not all sites with toilet facilties have disabled toilets.)
Recycle your everyday waste where possible.
Some locations have recycling facilities on site.
Navigate carefully when we see marine animals
Do not approach and use binoculars if you wish a closer look.
Ayrshire is situated on the beautiful west coast of Scotland, just south of Glasgow. Easily accessible by all forms of transport, the region is well connected and Glasgow is less than one hour away.
By road If visiting the area by road then have a look at our interactive map to identify the best route to your chosen Ayrshire destination. You can find out up-to-date traffic information from Traffic Scotland, and plan your route with Transport Direct.
If travelling from England, head north towards Carlisle on the M74 and once you have crossed the Scottish border, follow the M77/A77 and signs for Kilmarnock and Ayr. The scenic route along the A713 is a beautiful alternative to the main roads.
Public Transport For information about public transport, the best place to check for information and timetables is with Traveline; you can also download their mobile app or call them on 0871 200 22 33.
By bus Ayrshire is well served by coach links from Glasgow.
By train All the major towns of Ayrshire have a train link from Glasgow Central Station. Visitors heading for the island of Arran can take the train all the way to Ardrossan, and visitors to the island of Cumbrae can take the train to Largs. For all train times and fares across the network, visit National Rail Enquiries.
By ferry Zoom in on the interactive map to see the key ferry routes for getting to and from the area and the islands of Arran and Cumbrae. Visitors from Ireland can use the Stenaline and P&O ferry services from Belfast and Larne to Cairnryan. Between March and October P&O also offer a high-speed ferry service from Larne to Troon.
Arran by ferry Caledonian MacBrayne run regular ferry crossings between Ardrossan and Claonaig to Brodick on Arran. The journey takes only 55 minutes. There is also a seasonal ferry service between Lochranza on Arran and Claonaig in Argyll, and the ferry service between Ardrossan and Campbeltown runs three times per week with an additional stop at Brodick on a Saturday. For information about taking equipment (kayak/canoe/surf board) on the ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne click here.
By air There are several options for flying to Ayrshire with Prestwick International Airport having a number of direct flights from Europe. It also has great bus and rail links to get you around the region. From Glasgow Airport, which has air links across the UK and internationally, it takes around an hour to drive into Ayrshire and not much longer by public transport.
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Watersports Business Directory
Training / Clubs
Marinas / Retail / Boat Sales
1st Clyde Yacht Training
Sailing training and yacht charter Largs Yacht Haven, Irvine Road, Largs KA30 8EZ
Membership organisation, which co-ordinates races and is a registered RYA training centre. Runs powerboat and dinghy sailing courses occasionally in conjunction with Arran Junior Sailing Club. Visitors are welcome and can join and store their boat for the duration of their holiday - contact the club in advance to arrange. ,
Membership organisation that operates from a series of pontoons located in Ayr Harbour. Access is by way of secure walkway to the North Quay wall. The Club has numerous Trophies which are raced for, using the Portsmouth Handicap System.These races include weekly, day and weekend, catering for all sizes of sailing craft. ,
Membership organisation which organises activities for all ages and abilities. Runs regular racing for dinghies and keelboats. There is an active cruising section that organises cruises in company around the Firth of Clyde. Largs Yacht Haven, Irvine Road, Largs KA30 8EZ
There are Coastal Rowing Clubs in Troon, Maidens and Girvan. Across the three Ayrshire clubs there are four Skiffs which were built by schools and volunteers. The Troon club meets every weekend all year round at Troon Marina Slipway from 10.00am – 12.00 at regular “Come & Try” sessions. Dept. of Education Office, Troon Library, South Beach Road, Troon KA10 6EF
Marine adventures and wildlife tours amongst the islands of the lower Clyde. Also corporate events, stag and hen days and weekend packages including accommodation and additional activities eg gorge walking. Largs Yacht Haven, Irvine Road, Largs KA30 8EZ