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 miles
(distance starting from Parklea car park, going to Finlaystone Burn, then returning west along the trail)
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 from Parklea, walking along the park path and the shore to the burn then following the same route back via Parklea to continue 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 from the east in summer months 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: 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 go through the low tunnel under the railway line. Turn right along Parklea Road, go through an underpass below the roundabout, 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. (Walkers going east along the coastal trail join this route from Kelburn Park.)
From the car park at Parklea, park roads and tracks allow access along the southern perimeter of the football pitches (or the coastal walk can be followed along the north edge of the playing fields) to gain access to a beach walk heading east to reach Finlaystone Burn about 1 mile from the car park.
Road access: the road north from Woodhall Roundabout leads to car parking at Parklea Playing Fields (busy at weekends), alternative parking available at Port Glasgow.
Train: Woodhall railway station provides the nearest public transport to Parklea. From the north side of Woodhall station, a footbridge over the main road gives access to the coast at Kelburn Park. Go east, following the path close to the shore to reach Kelburn park entrance. An option is to take the pavement along Parklea Road running east on the north side of the railway line to an underpass and past Kelburn park entrance. From here, continue to the car park, which is about 900m walk from the station (detailed directions as walkers' route above). Alternatively, the car park is 3 miles from Langbank station via the pavement along the south side of the A8 (as described above).
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. The path around the perimeter of the park next to 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. The pavement round the shipyard and footpath by the Fire Station then leads north to Coronation Park, 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 past a tall Navigation Lamp. Go along Anderson Street past the boat yard, turning right towards the roundabout, and note the replica of the 1812 paddle steamer Comet, the first successful steamboat in Europe, on the other side of the Tescos exit from the roundabout, close to the site of the shipyard where its original was built. If you want to leave the walk here, cross the main road at pedestrian traffic lights to get to Port Glasgow town centre with facilities and station.
2. Port Glasgow to Fort Matilda
approx 6 miles