The walk starts at Stevenston Cross at the foot of Main Street
in the middle of Stevenston. Take the footpath (not suitable for
wheelchairs) which runs beside the burn. On the hill across the burn is
the old cemetery with the High Kirk towering above - but more of that
later. Between the path and the burn is the cap over the Deep Shank Pit,
the first deep pit in the district sunk in 1678. Along here came the
lade (water channel) for the 19th century corn mill that gave its name
to Mill Hill. There are two burns feeding the lade. The one on the left
is Quarrel Burn, that on the right is the Stevenston Burn.
It is a steep path up to Glencairn Street, the main A78 road. Cross
the road by the pedestrian crossing and turn left (towards Saltcoats).
Just before the bridge, take the rough path on the right which descends
to the side of Stevenston Burn and leads, in about half a mile, to the
ruins of Kerlaw Castle. It is the former home of the Cunninghames
of Glencairn and "one of the ruins Cromwell knocked about a
bit". His troops took masonry from Kerlaw for repair work in Ayr,
but it was the Montgomeries of Eglinton who were responsible for sacking
it and burning it during their long running feud with the Cunninghames
over which family should control North Ayrshire.
Those who prefer a shorter walk can continue along Glencairn Street
to see the Bonnie Lesley Monument which is up the steps on the
right. Bonnie Lesley was Miss Lesley Baillie who was born in Stevenston
in 1768 it is possible to see Mayville, the house where she was born, by
looking across the street through the space between the garage buildings
and the first bungalow. Burns met her in 1792 and described her to a
friend as "the most beautiful, most elegant woman in the
world". She inspired one or two of his love poems. It didn't go to
her head, though, and she married Robert Cumming from Edinburgh.
The monument was originally put up by her father as a memorial to her
mother who died in 1784, and was situated near Kerlaw Mains Farm.
Lesley's name was added in 1929 when the monument was re-erected on its
present site by members of the Burns Federation.
Cross the road and walk back towards Mayville Street and then turn
into Schoolwell Street where there are several interesting old
buildings, now listed, including No.21, the Manse, the oldest part of
which dates back to 1700, and the High Kirk. As its name suggests, the
street had a school which was used until 1872 when the provision of
education became the responsibility of the School Board. The well was
filled in within living memory.
The High Kirk in its prominent position above the Stevenston
Burn was dedicated in 1833. It replaced a church which was built in
1670. That building, which had replaced a still earlier one, was found
to be too small for the growing congregation in spite of the addition of
an aisle in 1744.
Fixed to the sill outside the belfry window is a sundial inscribed D.
L. in memory of Doctor David Landsborough who became minister of the
parish in 1811. As well as being a hard working and devoted minister, he
was a famous naturalist. He was one of the leaders of the Disruption in
1843 when many ministers who objected to the political constraints of
the Established Church broke away to form the Free Church. Dr.
Lands-borough left Stevenston High Kirk and set up the Free Church of
Scotland in neighbouring Saltcoats.
Continuing down Schoolwell Street towards the Cross, notice on the
left, the Champion Shell Inn, another interesting, traditional
Scottish Building with forestairs built to suit the slope of the hill on
which it stands. It is the oldest inn in Stevenston. Cross at the
pedestrian crossing, and go down New Street which at one time was called
the Coorodden for this is the routethat cattle belonging to the
residents of Stevenston were driven down to the town's common grazing on
the area of grassy dunes by the foreshore.On the left pass the shopping
centre with the Stevenston branch of Cunninghame District Library. Next
is the Masonic Hall and then the former Free Church now a building
Cross the road to the old cemetery to find the so called Plague
Monument. It was put up by the workers of Ardeer Ironworks in 1871
as a memorial to six hundred and six victims, not of the plague, but of
the cholera epidemics that swept through Stevenston (and other
industrial towns of Britain) in the mid 19th century. The poor housing
conditions and the lack of sanitation endured by working people led to
the rapid spread of the disease. There were two very severe outbreaks in
1849 and 1854. During them Dr. Landsborough ministered to the dying
until he, too, succumbed to the disease in September 1854. Many of those
who died were hastily buried in common graves.
Returning to New Street, on the left pass the school and then
Livingstone Church, built in 1887 when the original Free Church became
too small. It is named after Reverend John Livingstone who was minister
in charge when it was built. It became a United Free Church in 1900. The
pipe organ purchased in 1944 was originally presented to the
Highlander's Memorial Church in Glasgow by Sir Harry Lauder in memory of
his son John.
On the right, at the junction with Moorpark Road West is the War
Memorial Institute which became the Burgh Chambers when Stevenston
achieved burgh status in 1952. At the junction with Station Road is
Caley Court, a sheltered housing development built on the site of the
former Caledonian Railway Station.
Moorpark Road East leads to Ardeer quarry Park, where there was once
a very productive sandstone quarry. The whole Ardeer area bears the
marks of former industry such as lime-burning and coal-mining. There
were at one time extensive iron works here and in 1870 Alfred Nobel
founded the British Dynamite Company which started production at Ardeer
Station Road continues to the Railway Station and the Shore Park but
the walk takes you along Moorpark Road West towards Auchenharvie Park.
In the middle of Auchenharvie Golf Course in the Northern portion of the
Park, stand the ruins of the Beam Engine House. A Newcomen engine
was first installed in 1719 in an attempt to keep the coal workings
below free water. It was the second such engine to be installed in
Scotland and was not very efficient. The mining of the Stevenston
Coalfield on a commercial scale began shortly after 1678 when Robert
Cunninghame succeeded to the Auchenharvie estate. As well developing
coal mines, he was responsible for building new saltpans and a harbour
at Saltcoats, from which coal could be exported to Ireland, and a canal
on which coal could be transported from the pit-heads to the harbour.
From the Beam Engine House you will see Auchenharvie Academy built on
the site of Seabank House, the home of Robert Cunninghame and his
successors. Having seen the Engine House, you can return to the Cross
the way you came, or complete a circular route via Hillside Street and