SAPI & The Culzean Way

On 1 February 2022, Ayr Rotary member, Ron Ireland, gave a very interesting talk on SAPI and in particular The Culzean Way.

SAPI is a constituted community group set up in 2017 by a group of like-minded individuals with a keen interest in Active-Travel matters (travel requiring human effort). SAPI raise funds and in many cases physically carry out improvement works through cooperation with other organisations. They engage with the public in promoting active travel generally (e.g. at the pre-Covid, Culzean “Walk your Socks Off” event and at the annual Troon ECO festival) as well as helping to create new and aspirational paths.

SAPI has a growing port-folio of projects at various stages and Ron highlighted a few including the old, unmaintained Tam-o’-Shanter trail now upgraded and rebranded as the Blue Bonnet Trail. It was re-opened last year with much media publicity, distribution of leaflets and erection of information panels, and is now once again a very popular local walk. Also, The Carrick Way – another old, but neglected route which was one-time used for transporting fresh fish and smuggled goods to the market town of Maybole. It has spectacular views, especially walking west towards Dunure and Arran. A start on the improvements and restoration of the route with new waymarking is expected to commence in the springtime. Other successes to SAPI’s credit include new steps at the beautiful Failford gorge, a new cycle path in Harling Drive, Troon, and South Ayrshire Council commitment to a new underpass at the dangerous A819 Dunure Road.

Ron then acknowledged the existence of the superb Ayrshire Coastal Path created 14 years ago by Ayr Rotary – “a cracking path” and the result of many years of hard graft by an army of volunteers BUT……….south of Ayr one can’t easily get to it without a car, and it’s for fit and agile walkers only – no bikes, no prams, no wheelchairs. Nor does it connect communities in any meaningful way. He then went on to describe SAPI’s flagship project, The Culzean Way, a proposed active-travel path between Ayr and Girvan utilising wherever possible, the disused Dunure & Maidens railway line. As a newcomer to the area some years back, and a leisure cyclist, Ron was soon disappointed that cycling anywhere south of Ayr meant risking one’s life on fast and dangerous roads. He pointed out the problems of accessing this part of Ayrshire’s beautiful coastline: walking access – difficult; cycling access – dangerous; all-ability access – almost impossible. In other words, very poor accessibility without a car. The aspirational Culzean Way is now recognised in South Ayrshire Council’s Draft Active Travel Strategy.

Ron’s presentation was rounded off with an outline of SAPI’s ambition to remove the embarrassing eyesore which is the inside of the Alloway Railway Tunnel, a badly disrespected element of a local cycling and walking path in unfortunate juxtaposition with the picturesque Auld Brig o’ Doon which attracts visitors from all over the world and made famous by Burns’s Tam-o’-Shanter. He compared it with the Colinton Railway Tunnel, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which was once as damp, disrespected and uninviting as Alloway Railway Tunnel but is now a heritage-award-winning visitor attraction thanks to an inspiring community project which created a vibrant and historically interesting sequence of murals.

Douglas Haddow, in his vote of thanks, said that he hoped that SAPI would be successful in their endeavours to bring The Culzean Way to fruition.