Ayrshire Connect

West Kilbride

Sheltered by Tarbet and Law Hills the village of West Kilbride lies close to the Firth of Clyde and offers iconic views of the local islands, the distant mainland of the Mull of Kintyre , The Arrochar Alps and as far as the Paps on the Isle of Jura. Many beaches wind their way from the south, passing through Seamill and on to Portencross Hamlet and Castle.

This traditional Scottish village is registered as Craft Town Scotland and owns nine working studios and the Barony Craft Centre. The main shopping street is close to the green space of the Glen and gardens, and offers various cultural attractions including a range of family-owned shops and studios, cafes, pubs and independent art and craft retailers.

The village has a weaving history as well working connections with the Coats Cotton Manufacturers of Paisley. This crafting history has been further developed and in 1998 a village wide regeneration project was started by the newly formed West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd. With strong commitment and perseverance, and the support of many local volunteers and funders, West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland was launched. 

Why visit?

Not only is West Kilbride an interesting place in which to live it also offers a unique visitor experience. The village has developed a creative culture and despite many hurdles is an excellent example of local regeneration.  It is a contemporary example of how to build resilience and create growth.  The Initiative owns nine subsidised studios which are rented out to a range of makers and artists. On offer also is a lovely exhibition space, café and further masterclass studios which are all housed in a stylishly refurbished former Victorian church. Local retail businesses offer a wide range of goods and include the award winning Opus Couture (wedding dresses and accessories), LAH Travel,   Giuliani’s (coffee, chocolate and confectionery), Climies (butchers and fishmonger), Scottish Country Foods (vegetables and fruits), Petz (for pets), The Kandy Bar Bakery, Nourish (sustainable and health foods), The Wee Deli, D & B Gallery (cards, stationery, art and craft supplies) and Timberbooks.

The craft studios have encouraged other creative businesses and these are complemented by local gardens and green spaces which are maintained by an army of volunteers. A culture of music has also grown up and professional concerts take place throughout the year with many opportunities for amateur musicians as well. Outdoor activities are well catered for with walks along the many beaches or into the hills, amateur football, 3 all weather floodlit tennis courts and bowling green.

Other places that are popular with visitors include West Kilbride Museum. This is located on the first floor of the Village Hall. The Museum shows various art and history displays.  The station building, Kirktonhall and Overton, a former church, are buildings of note as is the memorial to Robert Simson, an 18th Century mathematician.

Volunteering in the community is an important part of the regeneration of the village and gardens such as The Boyd Orr named after the Nobel Peace prize winner who grew up in the village, are maintained now by The Environmental Group.  In Kirktonhall Glen, a community orchard has been created which adds to the range of gardens and sporting activities already in place. There is a much loved walk through the Glen woods along the Kilbride Burn to the sandy beaches of Seamill, the Ayrshire Coastal Path and the West Kilbride Golf Course – a links course coming up to 120 years old. West Kilbride is umbilically connected to Seamill and from this seaside village, by the beach or road, to the hamlet of Portencross with its Castle that dates back to around 1360. For anyone interested in Creativity and Community Regeneration West Kilbride is a particularly interesting place to visit.

Where are we?

West Kilbride is a scenic village on the North Coast of North Ayrshire lying alongside the Firth of Clyde and offering stunning views over to Arran and the surrounding islands.  The village is a forty-minute drive from Glasgow and an hour and a half from Edinburgh.  The Isle of Arran ferry is 6 miles south of the village.

How to Get Here

Three airports offer flights into Central Scotland – Glasgow GLA, Glasgow Prestwick PIK and Edinburgh EDI. Prestwick Airport is closest to West Kilbride and lies in South Ayrshire but current availability is limited to Tenerife, Southern Spain and Southern Italy.

The village is easy to reach with regular local bus and train services available from Glasgow, Largs and Ayr. Edinburgh to Glasgow offers a regular service as well.

When travelling by road, the M8 and M77 offer easy access to Ayrshire and the local A737 or A78 link the motorways to our local towns and villages.

What to Do?

The Craft Town Studios are open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 to 4pm. All nine are working studios and you may make your own arrangements by contacting individual makers through our website at www.crafttownscotland.org The Barony Centre is open every day (except Sunday) from 10-4pm. Here you may visit an exhibition, attend a workshop, browse through the Gallery Shop or take refreshments in the award winning café.
The village offers many other studios selling handmade work and craft materials. Creative shops, cafes and individually owned enterprises offer further interest and a visit to the local Museum in the Village Hall will provide a background to the village and many of the families who still live here.
 Visits to Portencross Castle, Hunterston Castle and walks along the beaches add to the available activities and if you want a castle of your own then Law Castle offers very special, exclusive use accommodation. All the hills around the village are enjoyable to climb and the views over the village, estuary and islands, make the climbs worthwhile.

West Kilbride Golf Course is a well loved links course and is open for visiting golfers.   The excellent all weather tennis courts in the Glen are available for hire.  Check the central notice board by Giuliani’s and West Kilbride Facebook pages such as What’s On for information on current activities.

When should you visit?

The village is active all year. There is an annual programme of exhibitions in the Barony Centre which only closes briefly over the Christmas period. Workshops are arranged throughout the year and may be found by exploring the website and the studio links. The Barony shop and café are always ready to welcome visitors and are well used by the local community as well.

In October, a week long festival, Vertex, is held offering a range of musical and comedy performances plus workshops.

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