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River Garnock

The River Garnock, the smallest of Ayrshire's six principal rivers, has its source on the southerly side of the Hill of Stake in the heart of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. About a mile and a half south of this starting point the untested stream tumbles over The Spout of Garnock, , the highest waterfall in Ayrshire, once thought to be the river's origin. The river then continues, for a total length of 20 miles or so, through the towns of Kilbirnie, Glengarnock, Dalry and Kilwinning to its confluence with the River Irvine at Irvine Harbour.

Main tributaries are the Rye Water and Caaf Water which join north and south of Dalry respectively and the Lugton Water which joins just south of Kilwinning.

Garnock Valley

"Glen Garnock" pertains specifically to the short, sometimes precipitous, section of ravine overlooked by the ruins of Glengarnock Castle north of Kilbirnie, whereas "The Garnock Valley" refers to a wider geographic area of North Ayrshire abutting Renfrewshire, which encompassees the former parishes of Beith, Dalry, and Kilbirnie.


Within Ayrshire by far the largest estuary has developed, behind the Ardeer Peninsula, at the confluence of the Irvine and Garnock Rivers. This is one of the best examples of a bar-built estuary in the UK and is the only major estuary between the Solway and Inner Clyde. The majority of the estuary has been designated a SSSI, in recognition of its national importance for three bird species (eider, red-breasted merganser and goldeneye). It is also a nationally important feeding ground for thousands of migrating birds during the spring and autumn. Otters and water voles live on the estuary as well as numerous breeding birds, including water rail, grasshopper warbler and sand martin. The Garnock/Irvine estuary is also a Wildlife Site.

Bogside Flats SSSI covers 253.8ha that include inter-tidal mudflats, salt-marsh and adjacent pasture land.

Places of Interest

  • Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park is the source of the headwaters of the Garnock.
  • Spout of Garnock is the highest waterfall in Ayrshire.
  • Glengarnock Castle is a ruined keep standing on a remote rocky promontory overlooking the river, located about 2 miles north of Kilbirnie.
  • Nether Mill (or Nethermyln), in Kilbirnie, is a ruined watermill that leaves as its legacy the name of the local football team, Kilbirnie Ladeside, who originally played in a field beside the mill lade running from a weir on the river to the mill at the end of Knoxville Road.
  • Dalgarven Mill still draws water from the Garnock to turn the restored undershot waterwheel. The mill complex, located off the A737 road north of Kilwinning, is now a tourist attraction with the mill building being home to the Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume.
  • Kilwinning Viaduct, on the former Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway, is now used by the Sustrans Garnock Valley Cycleway to get across the river.
  • Eglinton Country Park was developed around the ancient Eglinton Estate, home for 600 years to the Earls of Eglinton and Winton.
  • Salmon generally arrive in the Garnock at the end of July, with the most productive part of the river being the stretch between Kilbirnie and Dalry.
  • Garnock Floods is a wildlife reserve of the Scottish Wildlife Trust in Kilwinning; sandwiched between the railway line, Sandy Road and the river.
  • Ardeer Factory, once the world's largest commercial explosives factory, is situated on a natural peninsula with the Firth of Clyde on its west side, the River Garnock to the east, and the mouth of the River Irvine to the south.


Pundeavon Burn

Confluence from the right at Coordinates :
The Pundeavon Burn drains from Pundeavon Reservoir and enters the Garnock just upstream of Kilbirnie Cross.

Paduff Burn

Confluence from the right at Coordinates :
The Paduff Burn is a small stream, known locally as Jock's Burn, which comes into play on the golf course at Kilbirnie Place Golf Club:
Jocks Burn comes in to play at the first 2 holes (Padduff and Place Brae), a short par 3 and then a par 4. The 2nd requires to carry the burn onto an elevated fairway with out of bounds on your right.
The final hole (Jock's Burn) is a short par 3 with a large Oak tree on the left which, if caught, could send your ball into Jocks Burn. With out of bounds on the right and immediately at the back, this a daunting last hole.

Powgree Burn

Confluence from the left at Coordinates :
The Powgree Burn rises on Cuff hill in the Gateside area, runs through Auchengree and Longbar then shortly after runs under Glengarnock railway station.

Pitcon Burn

Confluence from the right at Coordinates :
The Pitcon Burn cuts deep into the hillside causing the tree lined gully known as Swinlees Glen , a Nature Conservation Site, and enters the Garnock near its namesake Pitcon House.

Putyan Burn

The Putyan Burn forms from a number of small burns, etc., such as the Baidland Burn from Baidland Hill and springs at Baidland Mill. It reaches its confluence with the Garnock at Putyan Cottage and the Lynn Holm, near the road junnction for Ardrossan at the Kilwinning end of the town. It passes Broadlie House where a small weir or dam still exists as part of an abandoned 1892 hydroelectric scheme which provided the house with its own electricity.

Rye Water

Confluence from the right at Coordinates :
The Rye Water drains from the area of Muirhead Reservoir and Camphill Reservoir and runs through Drakemyre to join the Garnock north of Dalry near Brownhill Junction on the main railway line.

Caaf Water

Confluence from the right at Coordinates :
The Caaf Water drains from Caaf Reservoir and soon passes the Michelin star rated Braidwoods Restaurant, housed in two simple cottages in the midst of a distinctly rural setting , before entering the Lynn Glen with its picturesque waterfall and finally enters the Garnock south of Dalry.

Bombo Burn

Confluence from the left at Coordinates :
The Bombo Burn is a small stream, only about 5 miles in length, that runs across the north side of Bankhead Moss, a Special Area of Conservation and joins the Garnock soon after passing through the Blair Estate:
The delightfully landscaped grounds and gardens of the Estate contain a wonderful mixture of species trees and shrubs from all over the world. The Bombo Burn meanders gently for a mile through the gardens creating many natural beauty spots. The ancient yew tree recorded in the Domesday Book leans over the banks of the Bombo Burn presiding on the changes over the centuries.

Dusk Water

Confluence from the left at Coordinates :

The Dusk Water is a stream that has its beginnings on Cuff Hill, near Beith, and runs through Barrmill to eventually join the Garnock upstream of Dalgarven.

Interesting places along its course, as well as several old watermills, are Giffin House, a large and handsome mansion-house, and Cleeves Cove, a system of caves in the Dusk Glen.


  • Coldstream Mill is located on the south side of Cuff Hill. The grain mill can still operate today, albeit only for demonstration purposes, with water supplied from the scenic mill dam.
  • Giffen Mill (or Barr Mill) is a ruined grain mill in the village of Barrmill.
  • Blair Mill was a traditional corn mill for the large Blair estate in Dalry. It was probably built in the late 18th century and ceased to be used as a mill in the 1950s.
  • Waterside Mill, lying downstream of the Dusk Glen, is now a residence.

Lugton Water

Confluence from the left at Coordinates :
The Lugton Water, the largest tributary of the Garnock, runs 14 miles from Loch Libo (395 feet above sea-level) in Uplawmoor, through Lugton and the parishes of Neilston, Beith, Dunlop, Stewarton and Kilwinning. The Lugton joins the Garnock below the tidal limit, shortly after passing through Eglinton Country Park, developed around the ancient estate of the Earl of Eglinton.

The Duniflat Burn joins the Lugton Water from the East Ayrshire side close to the North Biggart bridge near where the Bells Burn from Bells Bog on the East Renfrewshire side also has its confluence.

Pont refers to it as the 'Ludgar' or 'Lugdurr'. Loch Libo in the 14th century was referred to as Loch le Bog Syde in a charter, meaning the Bogside Loch.

River Irvine

Confluence at Coordinates :
The two main rivers of North Ayrshire, the Irvine and the Garnock, come together in the estuary at Irvine Harbour where they jointly enter the Firth of Clyde.

Major tributaries of the Irvine are the Glen Water, Cessnock Water, Kilmarnock Water (combined Fenwick and Craufurdland Waters), Carmel Water and Annick Water.

Picture Gallery

Cleeves Cove and Dusk Water

Dalgarven Mill and views of the Garnock

External links

Ayrshire Rivers Trust


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