We’ll forgive you if any mention of cycling in Scotland conjures up a slightly scary image.  After all, we can’t all be Sir Chris Hoy.  There’s also the fact that we’re surrounded by hills and the idea of cycling up one of those seems like far too much hard work to us.

The good news is that getting on your bike is a great way to get off the beaten track and you don’t have to be an Olympic champion to do it.  There are some wonderful sights to see, many of which aren’t accessible by car.  So here’s our guide to help you discover North Ayrshire on two wheels.

The Irvine to Kilmarnock loop

This is a really lovely route which starts and finishes at the Harbourside in Irvine.  It takes you along a mixture of A and B roads along with a few farm lanes.  You can meander along on gently undulating roads that will, for the most part, be extremely quiet.  One section will take you through the outskirts of Kilmarnock which could be busy, especially at rush hour and on the weekends.  If you’re not a confident cyclist just yet you might be better off avoiding those peak times.

The loop takes various twists and turns and faces every compass point at one stage or another.  The good news there is that if you find yourself peddling into a fearsome headwind it will soon be behind you.  You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Laigh Milton viaduct, Dundonald Castle and across the water to Arran.  Of course, given that you’ll also be passing through farmland you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself face to face with a herd of cows.

The route itself is just under 24 miles long so would only be suitable for younger children if you’re intending to put them on a bike seat or in a trailer.  Best of all, the loop ends near the Maritime Museum.  That’s well worth a visit in itself, but there’s also a café if you just want to reward yourself with a cup of tea and a scone.

North Ayrshire Countryside Tour cycle route

The North Ayrshire Countryside Tour is shorter than the Irvine to Kilmarnock loop at 22.75 miles, however it is more challenging.  That said, it shouldn’t pose any real difficulties for anyone with a reasonable level of cycling proficiency.

This route is based around quieter roads and farm tracks so you shouldn’t be bothered too much by traffic.  You’ll cycle through farmland where you can spot some of the local wildlife and also stop off in some lovely villages along the way.

Safety first

We always want to be sure that you’ll get back to us safely.  If you have any doubts about your ability to complete either of the above routes, you’re better to be safe than sorry.  If you want to test out your cycling skills try a shorter route first.  You can also hire city bikes in Largs if you’d prefer a more urban environment.  We think cycling is more fun when you’re part of a group and can see the sights together.  However, if you are heading out on your own make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back.  We’d prefer not to have to call a search party though!

Wherever your cycling adventures take you, we hope you have a great time.