Adventure

The Culzean Way

Here’s an interesting email from the cyclist and filmmaker Marcus Stitz… I’ve featured his films on CyclingEurope.org before; he is based in Scotland and many of his films are about routes in Scotland but he also ventures further afield. The Culzean Way, however, is one of his Scottish films and when I saw the name I did think it sounded familiar. I’ve just realised why… Culzean Castle!

Back in the summer of 2020 when COVID restrictions meant that we couldn’t venture very far, I set off on a tour of the UK. To Edinburgh, then Belfast, Cardiff and finally to London. I called it The Great British Cycle Tour and you can read all about it on this page of CyclingEurope.org. My route from Edinburgh heading south took me first along the canal to Glasgow (very wet!) and then towards the west coast where I cycled in the direction of the ferry to Northern Ireland from Stranraer. I have memories of it it being a spectacular stretch of coastline, especially south of Ayr. I stayed overnight at the campsite next to Culzean Castle before continuing south. The route was mainly, perhaps all, on road (I have no GPS track as my iPhone had become waterlogged during the cycle from Edinburgh to Glasgow…) which brings us to Markus’ film. A proposed route along the coast from Ayr to Girvan that follows a former railway line…

Here are the full details about the route and the film:

New film highlights the beauty of South Ayrshire and the efforts of a volunteer community group to give a disused railway line from Ayr to Girvan a new lease of life

A new film by Edinburgh-based filmmaker and author Markus Stitz, with music from Scottish composers Lisa Busby and John Harries, ‘The Culzean Way’, highlights the beauty of South Ayrshire and the efforts of a volunteer community group to give the disused Maidens and Dunure Light Railway from Ayr to Girvan a new lease of life. 

The film was commissioned by South Ayrshire Paths Initiative (SAPI), a volunteer community group dedicated to the development and promotion of a network of safe and attractive walking and cycling paths and routes in South Ayrshire. It is the first step towards securing funding for the development of a safe, attractive and traffic-free all abilities walking and cycling path linking the towns of Ayr and Girvan to encourage community health and improve tourism.

Filmmaker Markus Stitz comments: “Giving this disused coastal railway route a new lease of life would create one of the most picturesque cycling routes in the world in my opinion. I didn’t know too much about South Ayrshire before I worked on this project, but spending five days in this beautiful part of Scotland inspired me to not only produce this film, but also to give South Ayrshire the ‘pole position’ in my latest book Bikepacking Scotland.

The Culzean Way will be based on the track bed of the disused Maidens and Dunure Light Railway, and will co-exist with the Ayrshire Coastal Path, linking and sharing sections where appropriate. Although there are many opportunities to get outdoors and go walking and cycling in the area, the route will address barriers and safety issues that currently exist. South Ayrshire Paths Initiative is working with the local council, roads department, community councils and organisations like Sustrans, Paths for All and Cycling Scotland to realise the project, which will be developed in stages over multiple years.

An already existing short section of cycle path on the former railway passes through Alloway, best-known best known as the birthplace of Robert (Rabbie) Burns, Scotland’s greatest poet, and provides the setting for his poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. Another major landmark on the proposed route is Culzean Castle. Perched on the Ayrshire cliffs, the castle was designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century; it once also decorated the back of a £5 note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The small coastal village of Dunure was a filming location for Outlander. Throughout the route offers great views towards Ailsa Craig, the island which has long been the place where curling stones are quarried, and In summer it is home to 40,000 gannets.

Bill McKinlay, Secretary, South Ayrshire Paths Initiative, comments: “For many years I’ve looked at the curves of this old railway line sweeping along the South Ayrshire coast, with magnificent views of Arran, Ailsa Craig, Kintyre and Northern Ireland as its backdrop. And always viewed from the car, or while risking life and limb cycling – it’s long been my dream to walk and cycle the route off-road. So many disused railway track-beds have been repurposed as active-travel routes; and this one would rival any for location and scenery. It will be a superb facility for people living in the area, and a boon for tourism. We’re finally getting close, with funding available, a political will to make it happen, and now this wonderful film from Markus to showcase the concept.
‘The Culzean Way’ is available to watch for free on YouTube here. More information about the proposed  route can be found at www.theculzeanway.org.

…And here’s my own film about the entire ‘Great British Cycle Tour’:


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