Saltcoats/Ardrossan beach


The adjacent seaside towns of Saltcoats and Ardrossan (called the 'Three Towns' together with Stevenston) share this golden stretch of beach, cleaved in two by the outlet of Stanley Burn, with Saltcoats harbour to one side and stunning views of Arran across the water.  Scroll down to take a tour.



Swans at Saltcoats
Swans at Saltcoats

Julie McGowan


Amanda Strowger
Amanda Strowger


Amanda Strowger
Amanda Strowger



What does Saltcoats/Ardrossan beach mean to you?

Are you lucky enough to live near this beach? What is your favourite thing about it? What do you value most? Tell us with an image!

Send us your photographs, drawings, collages or anything else that captures the beautiful, inspiring, interesting or mundane. Landscapes, portraits, close-ups or artistic frames are all welcome. You can email them to us or post them to us on social media, tagged #LuckyToLiveHere @KSBScotland.  Don't forget to tell us which beach your image is of.

We will add our favourites to the online gallery above for everyone to enjoy. Let's celebrate Saltcoats/Ardrossan beach!


Know your beach

How well do you know Saltcoats/Ardrossan beach? Take our quiz to find out or read on below to explore.

The beaches we love are more than just sand and sea. Take a tour below to see some of the many things that make Saltcoats/Ardrossan beach worth protecting.

How well do you know Saltcoats/ Ardrossan beach?

Average score: 67%

Can you do better?

Environment & place

Saltcoats/Ardrossan is a designated bathing water, shown above in red. Bathing waters are designated where a large number of people are expected to bathe and a permanent bathing prohibition, or permanent advice against bathing, is not in place. Water quality here is monitored during the bathing season by SEPA, with daily forecasts published on their website. SEPA, Scottish Water and the council are always working to improve water quality. To find out more, view the Saltcoats/Ardrossan bathing water profile here.

Beach length: 1 km

Tidal zone: 0-390 m from the water's edge

Main tributaries: Stanley Burn

Catchment area: 9 km2 of land drains into this bathing water

Beach Manager: North Ayrshire Council.

Community information: Three Towns Clean Up Crew carry out regular litter-picks and other action to care for the beach and local area.

Stay safe at the beach with this advice from RNLI.


Protect your bathing waters

Learn more about bathing water quality and your role in making sure that the sand and sea at Saltcoats/ Ardrossan is clean for everyone to enjoy.


Wildlife & landscape

Beaches are great place for us to spend time outdoors, whether walking, picnicing, swimming or playing. But have you ever stopped to think who else calls this beach and these waters home?

Rockpools - spot a starfish

Rocky exposures at either end of the beach create shallow pools of sea water that are home to loads of different species like crabs, gobies, anemones and even starfish.
The common starfish are intriguing creatures that, despite appearances, are active predators that can live in depths of up to 600m. Their arms are used for moving around, but also to pry open the shells of mussels and clams to feed on them, by inserting their stomachs into the shell to digest the animal inside and then suck it back out! Eek! 
If you do find a starfish or other creatures in the rockpools make sure you treat them gently and leave them where you found them.

Bird watching

Both the North shore and Horse Isle across the water are havens for a variety of birds, including beautiful diving gannets and a variety of sanpipers -piping in the tidal sand for food; Horse Isle is also a designated Area of Special Protection.
See if you can spot Eider ducks - the females are rather plain, but the males have distinctive white and black plummage to make them attractive to the ladies. They feed on shellfish near the shore and like to live in groups. In the summer you can see young chicks grouped into creches to feed in the rocky foreshore. Shared parenting for the win -and safety in numbers too!

Plants and insects

The coastal habitat is also home to a vareity of coastal wild flowers, which in turn provide vital nectar to important pollinators. See if you can spot ringlet butterflies, with their distinctive eyespots -three on the forewings and five on the hindwings, though this can vary. You're most likely to see them on dully, cloudy days (unlike most other butterflies) and you can spot them by their characteristic 'bobbing' flight.


History & Heritage

The waters of the Firth of Clyde have lapped the shoreline here throughout the ages. Have you ever considered what has changed over the years -and what else might change in the future?

Ancient sea salt

Saltcoats gets its name from the ancient practice of boiling sea water to extract the salt, which was carried out in small cottages or 'cots'. A combination of a high salt content and abundance of sea coal, as well as the Stevenston coal mines late on, made it an ideal spot for this industry to flourish, from as far back as the 1100s. Sea water was brought up by wooden and later metal pipes to create a variety of salt products through different techniques of drying by boiling and baking. This included salts for flavouring, preserving and even bath salts!

The industry died out with the advent of cheaper rock salts around the turn of the century, though the Saltcoats sea salts were still said to be favoured by local farmers for making butter, cheese and hay.

The salt pans 

A bathing pond for daytrippers

Bult in a rocky cove on the site of the old salt pans in the late 1800s, the Saltcoats Bathing Pond was a major attraction for the better part of this century. The largest salt water tidal pool of its time, it included a rooftop balcony and lights for midnight bathing. Costing just two two shillings for a seaon pass, it was a popular destination, often hosting over 2,000 visitors in a day! It was eventually demolished in 1983.

The ship with the she-captain

Betsy Miller was famous for defying conventions of the time to become a respected sea captain in the 1800s. After serving as'ship's husband' to her timber merchant father, she went on to command the brig Cloetus for 22 years carrying goods across to Ireland and beyond. She paid off her father's significant £700 debt and built up a successful business, with the help of her sisters. She was said to be formidable in the face of a storm and carried on sailing until her 70s, keeping a home on Quay Street. She is buried in the churchyard of the old Ardrossan Parish Church at Saltcoats (now the North Ayrshire Museum).

Ardrossan castle

This familiar feature of the town's landscape stands as a powerful reminder of times past. It has been there from the start, thought to have been erected in it's current guise some time in the 13th century. Many occupants have passed through over the ages, including William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The former is rumored by some to haunt the grounds on stormy nights! But on brighter days, the castle is an excellent viewpoint for the beautiful Ayrshire coastline.  

Have we missed something? Help us make this page a true celebration of Saltcoast/Ardrossan beach! Get in touch.

Activities & Resources

Find out how to get involved in 'My Beach, Your Beach' this summer, with campaign materials, activities and learning resources for children and adults!

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