Route 73 is broken into two sections - north and south.
1. Northern section of Route 73
- Distance 18 miles from Kilmarnock to Ardrossan; 17 miles from Brodick to Lochranza
- Type: traffic-free paths from Kilmarnock to Kilwinning; two-mile on-road between Kilwinning and Stevenston; mainly traffic-free to Ardrossan
- Categorisation: Easy, apart from a medium on-road section
The northern part of Route 73 starts in Kilmarnock and follows a traffic-free path for 6 miles along the line of the former Irvine and Kilmarnock Railway. The line closed in 1964 and the path was opened in 2003. The route continues for a further 2.5 miles on riverside paths into the centre of Irvine, one of Scotland’s ‘new’ towns. You can head off Route 73 and follow Route 7 to the town centre and the Scottish Maritime Museum, which holds an important and varied collection of historic ships and artefacts. Heading out of Irvine and joining Route 7 northwards, the route follows traffic-free paths for 3 miles to Kilwinning, along the side of the River Irvine, past the golf course, and then by the Garnock Floods Nature reserve (managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust). There is no access to the reserve from the path, but you might spot some birds. At a junction just south of Kilwinning town centre, Route 7 continues north and Route 73 heads west for 6.5 miles to Ardrossan, passing the sandy beaches of Stevenston and the beach promenade of Saltcoats on the way.
The route goes to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan, where you can take your bike on the ferry to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Route 73 continues on-road round Arran to Lochranza where you can catch another ferry to Claonaig and link with Route 78, The Caledonia Way, which runs from Campbeltown to Oban, Fort William and, ultimately, to Inverness (see details of Route 78). The road can be busy just after ferry arrivals, so you are advised to wait until the ferry traffic has dispersed before setting off.
2. Southern section of Route 73
- Distance 41 miles in total
- Type: 2.5 miles traffic-free immediately south of Newton Stewart; remainder on minor roads
- Categorisation: Medium
The southern part of Route 73 starts in Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway, where it links with Route 7 (Lochs and Glens South). Its total length, when complete, will be 41 miles (66km) to Stranraer and Cairnryan Ferry Terminal. The 27 miles of the route between Newton Stewart and Glenluce is complete and signed. A lovely traffic-free path heads south from Newton Stewart, alongside the river and across fields to Lamanchan View, where it joins a minor road that heads around the Moss of Cree to Wigtown. As Scotland’s National Booktown, Wigtown has many book shops to browse through and coffee shops to relax in. The route continues west through woods and farmland on the B7005 across to the west coast of The Machars peninsula, northwards along the coast on the A747 for 3 miles, and on minor roads to Glen Luce. Glenluce Abbey is worth a visit.
West of Glenluce, the route is still under development.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.