Inverclyde Coastal Path provides delightful scenic walks, with views across the Clyde to the Dumbartonshire hills, the Argyllshire hills and the Highlands. It offers around 23 miles of easy walking, with a mixture of rural paths and urban promenades. For long distance walks it links naturally to the popular Ayrshire Coastal Path which is a further 84 miles in length, and to the north the Inverclyde path has the potential to connect through Renfrewshire to the Forth and Clyde Canal and the West Highland Way. Sections of the coastal path are also ideal for day walks. Full facilities to meet every need of walkers are available at points along the route, and there is ample public transport.
Redevelopment along areas formerly associated with our shipbuilding history is already providing well designed sections of path. The Inverclyde Heritage Coastal Trail project provides waypoint information signs and benches at strategic points, and is in process of providing directional signs.
Our ambition is to promote further path improvements including waymarking along the length of the coastal route. Redevelopment of the former Inverkip Power Station site promises a delightful new sea walk.
This outline describes short sections suitable for a few hours walk, which can readily be combined for full day or weekend walks. The route is shown from Finlaystone in the east heading west and south to reach Wemyss Bay and hence Ayrshire, it can easily be reversed.
The path is not waymarked and many junctions lack signposts, so print this out to take with you.
Photos of key points along the walk are shown in the Coastal Path gallery at bottom of this page.
The OS Explorer map 341 covers this area and the Ayrshire coast as far as Saltcoats, useful but not essential as the route is pretty obvious.
Remember to follow the Country Code: Take away only memories and photographs, leave only footprints.
1. Finlaystone and Parklea to Port Glasgow:
approx 5.8 miles
The Finlaystone Burn, grid ref NS367739, marks the eastern boundary of Inverclyde, and a scenic starting point for the coastal trail. This is most readily reached by taking public transport to Woodhall, walking through Parklea then along the shore to the burn, then following a similar route back to the entrance to Kelburn park, and continuing west along the Coastal Trail. Parklea is largely a National Trust for Scotland Nature Reserve under Stewardship of Inverclyde Council, please take care to avoid disturbing wildlife on the shore.
Alternatively, the burn can be approached in summer months from West Ferry Roundabout (about a mile east from Langbank railway station) by walking along the River Clyde foreshore at low tide, this is a bird sanctuary and winter access is restricted. The burn itself is too deep to cross, but for around 3 hours on either side of low tide the water splays out wider into rivulets with a depth around 2 inches (5cm) which can be crossed in a few steps.
Getting There: Port Glasgow is well served by public transport, there are trains and bus services to Woodhall Station on Glasgow Road. For walkers coming through Renfrewshire westwards via Langbank by the pavement along the south side of the A8; at Woodhall Roundabout continue on the pavement down on to Glasgow Road, then carefully cross the road to the path entrance marked by two stone features, and join the route a the low tunnel forming an underpass under the railway line. (Walkers going east along the coastal trail join this route from Kelburn Park.)
Road access: there are free unlimited time car parks in Port Glasgow, as this is a linear route we recommend parking there and using public transport to Woodhall. Alternatively, a road north from Woodhall Roundabout leads to limited car parking at Parklea Community Sports Facility, but this tends to be very busy at certain times, particularly at weekends.
Walk from Woodhall: from the station or nearby bus stops, walk east along Glasgow Road and turn left through a low tunnel forming an underpass under the railway line. Turn right along Parklea Road, go through an underpass below the A8 road, go past Kelburn Park entrance, and follow the pavement along towards the Parklea car park. After crossing the entrance road from the roundabout, either continue on the pavement, or go over to the path with steps down to continue close to the shoreline.
Passing by the car park, continue along a tarmac path in front of Parklea Community Sports Facility; you will return along this path, so for variety you may prefer going to the right along vague paths in a grassed area, rejoining the tarmac path where it projects out into the grass. Continue along a rougher path, going across grass to a gap between two information boards. Follow a rough track across rough grassy ground to the beach, and continue along the beach to where the Finlaystone Burn flows out from two culverts under the railway line.
Trail west from Finlaystone Burn: return westwards along the beach and rough grass shoreline to join the coastal grass path at the start of the playing pitches. Information boards describe the wildlife and history along the coastal footpath, including the eroded wooden posts sticking out of the sea which are remains of the old timber ponds where wood for shipbuilding was weathered. The path joins a park track and passes the stadium to reach Parklea car park, about 1 mile from the burn. Continue going west close to the coast for about 600m, then cross over to the pavement to reach the entrance to Kelburn Park. A well-made path around the perimeter of the park near the shore turns inland after about 600m to a junction with the footbridge from Woodhall station. The trail continues westwards by a walkway along the shore for 1km to a former shipyard, now park area, past Lamont's pier to the 16th century Newark Castle, a Historic Scotland property open to the public.
Behind the castle, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd continues a long tradition of shipbuilding work. A footpath from Castle Road round close to the shipyard offices and the Fire Station then leads to Coronation Park, a grassed area infilled on the former dock and harbours of Port Glasgow. The park path along the seawall leads past old bond buildings at Mirren's Shore and along Steamboat Quay, turning left past a tall Navigation Lamp, and left again to go along Anderson Street. Turn right before the Burger King restaurant to reach the access roundabout, which is on part of the site of John Wood's shipyard. Looking across the roundabout, note the replica of the 1812 paddle steamer Comet, the first successful steamboat in Europe, which was built there. If you want to leave the walk here, cross the main road at pedestrian traffic lights, head over to Tesco, and turn left onto a pedestrian way leading past the Comet replica to get to Port Glasgow town centre with facilities and station.
2. Port Glasgow to Fort Matilda
approx 6 miles