Environment & place
Ayr 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.
You can check water quality forecasts daily during the bathing season on SEPA’s website. SEPA, Scottish Water and the council are always working to improve water quality. To find out more, view the Ayr bathing water profile.
Beach length: 3.5 km
Tidal zone: 25-700m meters from the water's edge
Average rainfall: 296 mm (compared to 311mm average for Scotland)
Main tributaries: River Doon & Slaphouse Burn to the South; River Ayr to the North
Catchment area: 930 km2 of land drains into this bathing water
Beach Manager: South Ayrshire Council.
Community information: 'Don’t trash Ayr' is a newly formed group to tackle the litter problem at Ayr Beach and River Doon.
Stay safe at the beach with this advice from RNLI.
2020 survey results
Towards the end of this year's bathing season, we were able to visit the beaches to carry out a spot check of litter both on the prom and on the sand. Here's what we found:
Top items found:
- Plastic snack packets (crisps, sweets etc)
- Plastic bags (small, bag ends etc)
- Clear plastic wrap
- Plastic cutlery
- Foil/ wrappers
- Plastic caps & lids
- Glass Fragments
Help us build a more accurate picture of the beach by carrying out a litter survey using our citizens science pack.
We also asked you for your feedback on your experience of the beach this summer. Here's some of your favourite and least favourite things about living near Ayr beach this summer:
Learn more about bathing water quality and your role in making sure that the sand and sea at Ayr is clean for everyone to enjoy.
The marine environment
Ayr beach is across the water from the South of Arran Marine Protected Area, where a number of important marine plants and animals live, including what is possibly Scotland’s largest Seagrass bed.
Seagrasses form beautiful meadows on the bottom of the sea, that provide a home for all sorts of marine animals big and small. They also play an important role in combating climate change, capturing carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. Dredging and other disruptions, including pollution from the mainland threaten these crucial ecosystems
Six-spot burnet moth
These moths are hard to miss on a sunny day, with their dark green metallic wings sporting six bright red spots. As is often the case in nature, these spots are no accident. They are there to warn predators that they are toxic to eat.
You can see them in the summer, feeding on the nectar of flowers on the coast.
One of the flowering plants that commonly adorn Scotland’s shoreline, sea rocket is adapted to living on the salty, windy coast. It grows low to the ground and its fleshy succulent leaves protect it from drying out. Its corky fruit can float away with the tides, carrying seeds to new shores.
Sea rocket is also popular with pollinators like bees and flowers and can be seen from June to August.
History & Heritage
The waters of the Firth of Clyde have lapped the Ayr shoreline throughout the ages. Have you ever considered what has changed over the years -and what else might change in the future?
The Ayr promenade was created during the Victorian era (1830-1900), when the Low Green became a popular destination for day trippers. Initially, visitors would reach the town by steamer service from Glasgow. Once the railway line was introduced, visitor numbers boomed and the Low Green transformed into a centre for recreation and sports, including ladies croquet.
The development of Low Green from a common grazing ground into a tourist attraction started with an erection of a sea wall in 1881. This allowed for the first part of the Esplanade to be built, despite the wall washing away and having to be rebuilt the following year. A bandstand built in 1887 was taken down in the early 1050s. The fountain (1892) and The Pavilion (1911) remain.
During the First World War the Royal Flying Corps used the Low Green as a landing strip up until 1916, when they moved to the Racecourse.