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Kilbirnie is the largest of a cluster of small towns in Ayrshire, at the head of the Garnock Valley 20 miles (30 km) southwest of Glasgow.



Kikbirnie was the cell or abode of the 6th century St Brendan, Cill Bhraonaigh. It grew up around the flax and weaving industries, using the freshwater loch to rot the tough flax fibres so they could be milled into linen. Iron and steelmaking developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries then subsided, leaving Kilbirnie a commuter town for Glasgow and Irvine. In 2020 the population was 7170. It also gave its name to the suburb of Kilbirnie in Wellington, New Zealand.

Beith probably means birch trees - the area was wooded and the town made furniture as well as flax. Iron- and steel-making collapsed in the 20th century especially with the loss of the main local customer, the Linwood car factory which closed in 1981. However there's a large industrial estate west by the loch. Beith in 2020 had a population of 5940.

These towns are on the natural valley route from Glasgow towards the Ayrshire coast, and have almost merged into a single conurbation. But not quite, as the decision was taken in the 1960s to concentrate urban growth at Irvine further south.

Lochwinnoch (population 2810 in 2020) further down the valley is across the county boundary in Renfrewshire, now part of Clydeside, but might be easier to explore from Kilbirnie.

Get in


Trains from Glasgow Central run every 15-20 min and take 30 min via Paisley Gilmour Street (for Glasgow Airport), Johnstone and Lochwinnoch to Glengarnock. The last train leaves around midnight; a walk-up single in 2022 is £7.30. They continue southwest to Dalry and Kilwinning, where they diverge either to Irvine, Troon, Prestwick Airport and town and Ayr, or to Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan (for ferries to the Isle of Arran), with some continuing to West Kilbride and Largs.

1 Glengarnock railway station is one mile south of Kilbirrnie town centre and two miles southwest of Beith. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, and a waiting room but no toilets. There is step-free access to both platforms.

Stagecoach Bus X36 runs hourly from Glasgow Buchanan station to Beith, Kilbirnie (45 min) and Dalry. A morning and evening commuter run extends to Kilwinning and Ardrossan.

Stagecoach Bus 25 runs hourly from Irvine via Kilwinning and Dalry to Kilbirnie (one hour), Glengarnock railway station and Beith.

There isn't a bus station here, the buses make several stops in town.

By road from Glasgow leave M8 just past the airport and follow A737 southwest via Johnstone and Beith, then branch off on B777.

Get around


The centre of Kilbirne is pedestrian-friendly. As you move out of the town centre, all areas have proper pavements, and most major junctions have pedestrian crossings.

Taxi operators are G&K (+44 1294 286006) in Kilbirnie and Premier (+44 1505 681122) in Beith.


  • 1 Kilbirnie Auld Kirk, Dalry Road KA25 6HY. July-Aug Tu-Th 14:00-16:00. This is probably on the site of the 6th-century "cell of St Brendan", but the oldest part of the present building is the nave from 1470, with the bell tower added in 1490. Aisles were added in 1597 for the Cunninghames of Glengarnock and in 1642 for the Crawfords.The transept and new entrance front were added in 1903-05. The Kirk continues for the time being as an active Church of Scotland parish church, with Sunday services at 11AM, but is being considered for closure. Kilbirnie Auld Kirk (Q6406552) on Wikidata Kilbirnie Auld Kirk on Wikipedia
  • 2 Kilbirnie Loch is about 1 mile long by half a mile wide and 20 ft deep. It was once part of a much larger freshwater lake, reduced by silting and early modern drainage to Kilbirnie, Barr and Castle Semple lochs, draining northeast towards the Clyde. There are several access points - from Kilbirnie the easiest is the lane to the southwest tip, but the shore near Beith is industrial. Activities include angling, bird watching and water skiing.
Kilbirnie Auld Kirk
  • 3 Glengarnock Castle Glengarnock Castle on Wikipedia is a medieval stump teetering on a knoll above the Lugton Water. It's unclear when it was built, maybe 13th century, but certainly pre-gunpowder as it lacks gun ports. It was abandoned by the 18th century. Reach it by the farm track along the east riverbank.
  • 4 Beith is on the old road from Glasgow but now bypassed by A737. The Auld Kirk dates from 1593 but only the bell tower remains. Beith High Church (Church of Scotland) was built in 1807 and Trinity Church (also C of S) in 1883; their congregations have combined. Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (Roman Catholic) was rebuilt in 1910. The Town House (built 1817) was the lock-up, courthouse and council chamber.
  • 5 Lochwinnoch is a village next to the strip of land separating Barr and Castle Semple lochs, a wetland RSPB reserve. Only a gable end and graveyard remains of the 1729 Church of St John. Barr Castle is a ruined turret to the south, while northeast is the Castle Semple estate, with a crumbling grotto and collegiate church. The original Castle Semple was replaced by a Gothic mansion in 1735. This burned down in 1924 and its outbuildings have been converted to private dwelings.
  • 6 Museum of Ayrshire Country Life is in a 17th-century watermill six miles south of Kilbirnie, see Kilwinning.




Kilbirnie War Memorial
  • Tesco is north end of Kilbirnie, open M-Sa 7AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM, and has a filling station.


  • The main town strip has Yazan's, Anaya's (below), Irvine's Bakery, Coffee & Cakes, Freddi's Tandoori and a few takeaways.
  • 1 Anaya's, 13 Bridgend, Kilbirnie KA25 7DJ, +44 1505 684454. Su-Th 4-10PM, F Sa 4-11PM. Indian restaurant, quality erratic.
  • 2 Lime Tree Larder, Auchencloigh Farm KA25 7LJ (off A760 towards Largs), +44 1505 685258, . Th-M noon-5PM. Farm shop worth a detour for its chocolates and ice cream, which you'll have to drip onto the car upholstery as it lacks a cafe area.


  • Ramage's Bar, 1-3 Newton Street, Kilbirnie KA25 6HN, +44 1505 682975. M-Th 2PM-midnight, F-Su noon-1AM. Tiny bar in town centre, soon gets crowded.
  • The Commercial, Main Street, Kilbirnie KA25 7AB, +44 1505 683686. M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Su 11AM-midnight. Friendly relaxed pub in town centre.


  • The handful of B&Bs near Kilbirnie didn't open in 2022, and Moorpark House Hotel has closed down.
  • Saracen's Head, 10 Eglinton St, Beith KA25 1AQ, +44 1505 502329. Pub with rooms, basic but clean. B&B double £80.



As of July 2022, Kilbirnie has 4G from all UK carriers, but coverage along the main approach road A760 is patchy. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next

  • Largs to reach Great Cumbrae island, or Ardrossan to reach Arran.
  • Troon is a traditional "Costa Clyde" beach resort. Its golf club regularly hosts the Open.
  • Ayr has the Robert Burns Heritage Area and Culzean Castle.
  • Paisley has a fine cathedral and interesting industrial heritage.

This city travel guide to Kilbirnie is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.