The Coig: What is it, where does it cover and everything you need to know about these new tourist routes

The Isle of Arran is one of the five routes which make up The Coig.
The Isle of Arran is one of the five routes which make up The Coig.
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This new set of tourist routes is set to showcase the best of Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae.

What is The Coig?

A map of the routes which make up The Coig.

A map of the routes which make up The Coig.

Gaelic for five, The Coig is a series of five tourist routes covering Ayrshire, Arran, Bute and Cumbrae, offering people an exciting new way to explore the beautiful coast and countryside on their doorstep.

Each route has been specially designed to showcase the outstanding natural beauty, history and heritage and food and drink, as well the wide range of outdoor and family activities on offer across the region. Visitors can follow a choice of routes as part of a day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh, or as a longer staycation experience.

What are the routes?

The five routes cover The Shire, Shiel, Arran, Bute and Cumbrae, which cover the Clyde coast and islands. Keen outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the contrasting landscapes and beautiful, varied scenery, whereas foodies will not be disappointed with the variety of local produce available.

The Shire covers south west Scotland, from KIlmarnock round to New Cumnock, Girvan and Prestick. Find out more about this region's fishing, mining, and farming, but also, unexpectedly the ancient cultural heritage.

The Shiel is the gateway to the islands of Bute, Arran and Cumbrae and covers the west coast's picturesque seaside towns such as Largs and West Kilbride. Worth a visit is the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, which includes nature reserves, woodlands, lochs and waterfalls, and is an ideal pit stop for nature lovers.

Known affectionately as Scotland in miniature, Arran is home to beautiful scenery, wildlife and is a hill walkers paradise thanks to the many paths and routes, including Goat Fell. If you're on the hunt for local produce it will not disappoint, with gin, beer, whisky and cheese all made here.

The Isle of Bute remains a popular seaside destination and still has its Victorian promenade. Walkers can enjoy The West Island Way, which runs the length of the island and there are also a number of local shops and boutiques to while away an afternoon.

Cumbrae is a small island only four miles long and two miles wide. It is reached by ferry crossing from Largs, and may be known to most as Millport, its only town. Visit a seaside themed cafe, pub or ice cream parlour or check out Crocodile Rock - a landmark which dominates Millport’s shoreline.

Who is behind it?

The official ambassador is Formula One presenter, Lee McKenzie, who was born and grew up in Alloway near Ayr. The regional tourism leadership group for The Coig is made up of key tourism industry representatives from both the public and private sector and members of national tourism organisations.

Spokesperson for The Coig, Linda Johnston (Co-Founder & Managing Director, Auchrannie Resort), said: “We’re really lucky to have Lee on board to help drive forward this exciting new campaign for Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde Islands. Lee’s personal affinity with the region, local knowledge and special sense of adventure also makes her a perfect ambassador for The Coig.

“As we enter the autumn and winter months, we’re now gearing up to showcase the best winter walks, weekend drives and cycling trails, and wonderful food and drink available across each of our five routes. Authentic Scottish hospitality and a warm welcome awaits everyone to the region and we can’t wait get started.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “The Coig is another exciting route initiative, which brings with it a wealth of opportunities not just for the southwest coast tourism industry but indeed all the communities across Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and the Clyde Islands.

“It’s a great example of collaboration by industry local authority and Scottish Government and how by working together all stakeholders can benefit, least not forgetting those who visit the area both from within and out with Scotland and can enjoy enriched experiences in the many places that the COIG passes through.”

Read more: The Speyside Way: 13 stunning images of one of Scotland's best long distance walks
Gordon Smith, VisitScotland Regional Director, added: “With five unique routes across Ayrshire, the Firth of Clyde and the Clyde Islands, The Coig is a brilliant new initiative which will showcase the beautiful scenery, fascinating history and outstanding food and drink offering in the area, as well as the wide range of outdoor and family activities available. I’m delighted that Lee McKenzie has got on board to help promote this exciting new visitor proposition.

“The timing of this new initiative is particularly apt as we prepare to celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. This year-long programme of events and activities will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape.”

Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Economy at North Ayrshire Council, said: “The Coig is a fantastic new tourism initiative which will support our local businesses and communities by helping to boost visitor numbers into our towns and villages. It’s an exciting time as we near the launch and this campaign will put Ayrshire on the map both nationally and internationally, showcasing the beauty and diversity of our countryside, coast and islands.”

The app

To make it easier to plan your Coig trip, an app has been developed and is available for iPhones and Android.

Read more: 32 words and phrases that mean something different in Scotland