Download GPX file for this article
55.65-4.7Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kilwinning is a town near the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, some 21 miles southwest of Glasgow. It's run-down and post-industrial, with a population in 2020 of 16,100.



The "Kil-" placename indicates the cell or abode of an early Christian saint - presumably Saint Winning but no-one knows who he was. (He may be the same fellow as St Ninian, St Finnian, and for all we know St Trinian.) An abbey was founded in the 12th century on the west bank of the River Garnock, with the village of Sagtown ("saint town") on the east bank. It was a small market town until the 19th century, when iron foundries were established powered by locally-mined coal; these were west bank and the town centre migrated there. An even greater expansion came in the 1960s when a series of "New Towns" were developed to remedy Scotland's poor stock of housing. Four of these were greenfield but the fifth was grafted onto the existing town of Irvine five miles south. Kilwinning was effectively a suburb of this ugly project, but in 1996 the New Town system was wound up and Kilwinning reverted to conventional local governance within North Ayrshire Council.

Get in


Trains from Glasgow Central run every 15-20 min and take 35 min via Paisley Gilmour Street (for Glasgow Airport), Johnstone, Lochwinnoch, Glengarnock and Dalry. The last train leaves around midnight; a walk-up single in 2022 is £8. From Kilwinning 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. Change at Ayr for the Glasgow-Stranraer-Belfast bus.

1 Kilwinning railway station is 400 yards west of town centre. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, an ATM, toilets and waiting room. There is step-free access to all platforms.

Stagecoach Bus 11 runs from Kilmarnock via Irvine, taking 45 min to Kilwinning and continuing to Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan. It's every 15 min M-Sa and every 30 min on Sunday.

Stagecoach Bus 25 from Irvine takes 12 min to Kilwinning and continues to Dalry, Kilbirnie, Glengarnock and Beith.

Stagecoach Bus X36 is a morning commuter run from Ardrossan via Kilwinning and Dalry to Glasgow, returning around 5PM; the rest of the day it only runs Dalry-Glasgow,

Shuttle Bus 38 plies hourly between Irvine and Kilwinning. Bus 149 runs once M-Sa around 7AM from Kilwinning to Cumnock and returns around 5:30PM.

There isn't a bus station here, the main stop is on Lauchlan Way north side of the retail strip.

By road from Glasgow leave M8 just past the airport and follow A737 southwest via Johnstone and Beith.

Get around


Walk, the town is compact. Bus 25 runs by the Museum of Ayrshire Country Life.

Taxi operators include Station Taxis (+44 1294 603603), Glespy[dead link] (+44 1294 556900) and Whitehirst (+44 1294 557557).


Abbey ruins and 19th century tower
  • 1 Kilwinning Abbey, 109 Main St KA13 6AW. Heritage Centre Sa Su 1-3PM. Scrappy remains of a Tironensian Benedictine monastery, founded late 12th century by monks from Kelso. It fell into ruin at the 16th-century Reformation and much of its stone was carried off for use elsewhere. One of its west towers survived until 1814, when it was demolished just before it collapsed: a replacement was completed in 1816. This houses the Heritage Centre, open summer weekends, where exhibits include the town's ancient archery club. The ruins are free to stroll any time. Free. Kilwinning Abbey (Q2363506) on Wikidata Kilwinning Abbey on Wikipedia
  • Freemason's Lodge or "Lodge Mother Kilwinning" may be the oldest Masonic Lodge in Scotland, if not the world. It claims to have been founded in 1140 by the masons from Italy who built the abbey, but no records survive to validate this. As the Mother Lodge or "Lodge Nothing" (never "zero") it granted charters to daughter lodges, but in 1736 the Grand Lodge of Scotland was formed and Kilwinning's priority wasn't accepted. It seceded rather than be one constituent lodge among many, granting its own charters, until a reconciliation in 1807. The present Lodge building, next to the abbey at 99 Main St, was completed in 1893. It's only open to visit by arrangement with the Master.
  • 2 Eglinton Country Park, Kilwinning KA13 7QD. Pleasant green space along the riverside, with the ruined facade of Eglington Castle, a Gothic confection of 1800. In 1839 a huge lavish "medieval" tournament was staged here, but the summer rains laid waste to the marquees, knights in armour, and celebrity guests including the future Emperor Napoleon III of France. The castle was simply unaffordable and went to ruin in 1925. Most of it was demolished when the grounds became a civic park in the 1970s. Free. Eglinton Country Park (Q5348071) on Wikidata Eglinton Country Park on Wikipedia
  • 3 Museum of Ayrshire Country Life (Dalgarven Mill), Dalgarven KA13 6PL, +44 1294 552448. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Breastshot watermill built in 1614 to thresh local grain, or else! Until 1779 the Law of Thirlage required farmers to bring their grain to the local Laird's mill, a nice little monopoly, and it was the law's repeal as much as the advent of steam that brought about the demise of many mills. Dalgarven however was rebuilt in the 1880s after fire damage, and restored in the 1980s to become a museum of Ayrshire farming. Adult £7.50, child £5. Dalgarven Mill Museum of Country Life and Costume (Q5210839) on Wikidata Dalgarven Mill – Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume on Wikipedia


Mercat Cross on Main Street
  • Golf: Ardeer GC is on A78 two miles west. White tees 6401 yards, par 72, visitor round £40. Several more courses around Irvine and Ardrossan.
  • Kilwinning Sports Complex, Pennyburn Road KA13 6LF (400 yards south of railway station), +44 1294 556444. M–F 8AM-9:30PM, Sa Su 9AM-4PM. This has a gym, fitness classes, football pitches and a golf driving range. There isn't a pool.
  • Beach: Stevenston 3 miles southwest is the closest, see Ardrossan.
  • Shoot the papingo on the first Saturday in June. Kilwinning Archery Club is believed to have existed at least since 1483: it became defunct in 1870 but was revived in 1948. The papingo or popinjay is a wooden bird mounted high on the Abbey tower, and archers attempt to hit it. Step smartly under cover before the arrow hurtles back down.


  • The big supermarkets are in Irvine and Kilwinning has only smaller convenience stores. Along Main St are Co-op Food, Tesco Express and Premier.


  • Main Street is pedestrianised and lined by cheap and cheerful places. These include Corner House (below), India Palace, Viking Cafe and several takeaways.
  • Corner House, 1-7 Howgate KA13 6EN, +44 1294 558813. Su-Th 9AM-11PM, F Sa 9AM-midnight. Reliable place for trad food.


The papingo target high on the tower
  • From the railway station east along Main St are Alton Inn, Market Bar, Lemon Tree, Victoria Bar, Abbey Gates and Black Rose.


  • 1 Nethermains Lodge, Nethermains Rd KA13 6PR, +44 1294 550268. Great welcome and service at this spotless B&B. No pets. B&B double £70.
  • 2 Red Squirrel Stevenston, Ashenyards Park, Stevenston KA20 3DA, +44 1294 588010. Clean friendly accommodation in a Marstons chain pub, handy for motorists. Double (room only) £60.



As of July 2022, Kilwinning and its approach roads have 4G from O2 and Vodafone but only a patchy mobile signal from EE or Three. 5G has not reached town.

Go next

  • Head to Ardrossan for the ferry to Arran.
  • Ayr has the Robert Burns Heritage Area, and Culzean Castle a little further south.

This city travel guide to Kilwinning 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.