West Kilbride is a small town in Ayrshire on the Clyde coast of southwest Scotland. It was traditionally a weaving, potato-growing and sheep-farming town, expanding when the railway arrived in 1878, to grow into nearby Seamill and Portencross. In the 21st C it's sought to distinguish itself as an arts & crafts centre, with partial success, and to distance itself from the industrial complex of Hunterston just north. There a fabulous Celtic brooch was found, dating to 700 AD and now in the NMS in Edinburgh; but Hunterston is better known for its nuclear reactors, which you can visit.
By plane: Glasgow Airport (GLA) has the best choice of flights. Take the airport bus to Glasgow city centre then train or bus as below. Prestwick (PIK) is closer but only has Ryanair flights to the Med.
By train: Trains run hourly from Glasgow Central, taking 50 min via Paisley, Kilwinning and Ardrossan, and continuing north to Largs. Change at Kilwinning for trains from Ayr, Prestwick, Troon and Irvine.
By bus: buses pass through West Kilbride every 30 mins or so on their way north to Largs (10 min) and Greenock (60 mins), and south to Ardrossan (20 mins), Irvine (40 mins) and Ayr (60 mins). From central Glasgow (Buchanan station) travel either via Ardrossan or Greenock: there's not much in it so ask at the ticket office for your best connection.
By car follow A78 the coastal main highway.
- Stagecoach Bus 585 runs along the main coast road every 30 mins from Ardrossan via Seamill, West Kilbride, Fairlie, Largs, Skelmorlie and Greenock.
- Eddie's Taxis, ☏ . Eddie provides taxis around town and locality, airport transfers etc.
- West Kilbride Museum, Village Hall, 1 Arthur Street. Tu, Th, Sa 10:30-12:30 & 14:00-16:00. Small volunteer-run museum upstairs in village hall. Donation.
- 1 Portencross Castle, Portencross Rd KA23 9QA (On coast 2 miles west of town). April, July & Aug daily, May June & Sept Sa Su, 11:00-16:00. First built in the 13th C, and replaced by the present bastion in the 14th. It hasn't suffered from assault and was only abandoned in 1739 when a storm ripped the roof off. By donation.
- 2 Law Castle (200 yards east of railway station), ✉ email@example.com. Closed to public. Built in 1467 as a wedding gift for Princess Mary, sister of King James III. But the groom was attainted of treason while he was away on the Continent, where he wisely chose to remain, so the marriage was annulled. The castle fell into disrepair in the 19th C but was smartly restored in the 21st and is now luxury accommodation with six bedrooms. Admire the facade, no interior tours.
- 3 Barony Centre at 50 Main Street have rotating exhibitions, art studios and events.
- The beach stretches from Seamill by the Hydro to an outcrop of rocks by the golf course. It resumes along Ardneill Bay to Portencross. Good views southwest towards Arran.
- 4 Hunterston B nuclear power station, Hunterston KA23 9QX, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-16:00. This AGR (Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor) power station, run by EDF, has been generating since 1976, and is scheduled to continue until 2023. The older Magnox Hunterston A next door ran from 1957 to 1990. 90-min tours available, min age 7, you need to book 3 weeks in advance (4+ weeks for non-UK visitors) and bring your passport. EDF has seven other nuclear plants in the UK which can be visited: at Torness East Lothian, Dungeness B in Kent, West Burton B near Retford Notts, Heysham Lancs, Hinckley Point Somerset, Hartlepool, and Sizewell B in Suffolk.
- Walk down Kirktonhall Glen. The woodland footpath starts in town centre and follows the Kilbride Burn for a couple of miles down to the shore at Seamill.
- 1 West Kilbride Golf Club, Fullarton Drive, Seamill KA23 9HT. 18-hole links course between shore and farmland, fairly flat but with a stiff sea breeze. Par 71, the "Arran" course is 6523 yards. May-Oct £60 pp round, Nov-Mar £30.
- A Gift Tae Gie, 45 Main Street, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-17:00. Has various gifts, toys, cards and interior accessories.
- There's a Co-op food store (open daily 07:00-22:00) on Ritchie Street, but for a big shop head to the supermarkets in Ardrossan.
- Various Indian and Chinese takeaways in the centre of town.
- The Wee Deli, 2 Ritchie Street KA23 9AL, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:30-15:00. A tardis of food delights. Best known for the wee deli pate & soups.
- Cherry Orchard, 2C Orchard St KA23 9AD, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-16:00. Friendly cafe at the foot of the glen.
- Seamill Hydro Hotel has an excellent restaurant, see "Sleep".
- 1 The Catch At Fins Restaurant, Fencefoot Farm, Fairlie KA29 0EG (5 miles north of town, on main road halfway to Largs), ☏ . Th-Sa 12:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00; Su 12:00-15:00. Acclaimed seafood restaurant, small and booking essential. Not licensed, byob or buy from shop next door. mains from £12.
- See Ardrossan for Braidwoods, near Dalry ten miles east of West Kilbride.
- The Twa Dugs and the King's Arms are typical Scottish pubs on Main Street.
- 1 Carlton Seamill B&B, 53 Ardrossan Road, Seamill KA23 9NE, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. B&B in Victorian house with period furnishings, has become run-down and tatty. B&B double from £70.
- 2 Seamill Hydro Hotel, 39 Ardrossan Rd, Seamill KA23 9ND, ☏ . Upscale hotel with leisure & gym facilities and pool. With Orangery restaurant plus Aura bar meals. B&B double from £90.
- Seamill House Hotel is a separate mid-range establishment almost next door to the Hydro.
- 3 The Waterside, Ardrossan Rd KA23 9NG (south edge of town), ☏ . Clean modern hotel, great setting but you need the sunshine. B&B double £80.
- Ardrossan has ferries to the charming Isle of Arran.
- Largs has ferries to Great Cumbrae. Little Cumbrae is a private yoga resort with no public ferry.
- Wemyss Bay has ferries to the Isle of Bute.
- Ayr has Robert Burns' birthplace and other Burns sites, mostly at Alloway; further south is Culzean Castle.
- Famous golf courses hereabouts are Royal Troon, Prestwick Old Course, and Trump Turnberry towards Girvan.