The walk starts in Largs where evidence of Roman baths were unearthed in 1820. The route follows the Ayrshire Coastal Path north via Pencil Point for a refreshing promenade along the seafront. At Noddsdale Water the route heads inland, but still on the Ayrshire Coastal Path (!), and gently climbs until reaching the Iron Age hill fort on The Knock (known locally as Knock Hill) where, weather permitting, there should be good views. The descent is down Blackhouse Burn, then passes close to Knock Castle before returning to the seafront and following the Ayrshire Coastal Path back to the Marina.
At around 10 miles it is a relatively easy walk but can be muddy in places!
The starting point is at OS Reference NS 209 575 which is the first car park on the left just over the railway bridge heading for Largs Yacht Haven.
Getting there: 33 miles/50 minutes
Take your favourite route to the M8 heading for Greenock. At Junction 28A take the exit to Irvine A737. Follow this to the Roadhead roundabout where you turn right to Lochwinnoch on the A760. Stay on the A760, through Kilbirnie, following signs for Largs till you end up at the bottom of the Hayley Brae where you turn left, away from Largs and towards the Yacht Haven. You pass a small estate of houses on the right, then some playing fields and then turn right into the road for the Yacht Haven.
The Walk: Knock, knock – 11 miles (18km)
Start by exiting the car park on the Ayr Coastal Path towards Largs and continue along this till you reach Aubery Crescent, where you turn right towards the main road. When this is reached cross carefully, turn left and then right to continue up Barr Crescent. The route follows the higher Knock Hill variant of the Ayrshire Coastal Path; ignore a footbridge but soon after fork left, as signed, to follow the path upstream beside the burn. The path emerges on a housing estate at Glen Avenue; turn left and follow this to reach the main junction with Brisbane Glen Road. Turn left and follow the road, initially on pavement but then on the road itself as open countryside is reached. Look out for a track on the left signed for High Road / Knock Hill; take this track, following it to Brisbane Mains Farm.
Pass the farm buildings and then follow the track through the gate on the right at the far end. Pass above the buildings, avoiding the free-range chickens. The now rougher track continues, passing through another gate. At one point the track leads through a sheep pen – bypass this on the right to rejoin the track beyond. There are good views of the rich farmland on this section. Further on – above a wooded burn – take the left fork (signed Ayrshire Coastal Path) to continue on a boggy ATV track uphill. A junction is reached by a marker – keep left here to begin the detour up to visit the summit of Knock Hill, which soon comes into view.
The boggy track leads to the left of Knock Hill and spirals round to ascend to the summit. The view expands to include the Cumbraes, Arran, Bute and a great sweep of the Firth of Clyde as the summit area is reached. A trig point marks the highest point, whilst the earthworks of the iron age fort which was once built here are still readily apparent.
Retrace your steps back down the hill and back along the boggy track. A marker post indicates where you can turn left to follow a very faint path to a wall, then turn right along rough ground beside the wall to rejoin the main boggy track at a gate . Pass through the gate and continue on the faint and boggy path to the left of the burn, passing some fine trees. Keep ahead until a corner in a fence enclosing the burn/ravine is reached; here keep along to the left side of the fence. Eventually the woods are entered at a kissing gate; continue down through the trees until you reach the tarmac road.
Turn left to follow this quiet minor road back towards Largs. It passes near the privately owned Knock Castle and a fine building opposite, continuing past the Routenburn Golf Course and giving some good views across to the Firth of Clyde. Eventually the main A78 is reached; turn left, to cross the bridge over Noddsdale Water and then right to retrace your steps downstream and back along the promenade to the car park.