MEMBERS of Garnock Connections hosted a safari tour of some of their wildlife projects at Irvine harbourside last week.

The day saw invited guests take a safari tour around a meadow at the Beach Park, an exhibition at the Scottish Maritime Museum and even have a go at rowing one of the boats made by project volunteers.

Garnock Connections has been running for three years covering over 28 projects to enhance the area for the River Garnock from Muirshiel in Renfrewshire to Irvine.

It is run by the Garnock Connections Landscape Partnership, made up of RSPB Scotland, North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), NatureScot and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

And on Wednesday the

visitors joined staff from the team and some volunteers from projects to see what work had been carried out.

Using a new Garnock Connections App, people can log in and find out about the projects and history of the area too.

To their surprise, guests were offered the chance to row one of the St Ayles Skiffs built at the Maritime Museum with the Scottish Boatbuilding School team.

They took the boats around the harbour towards Ardeer and Bogside with the idea being these skiffs will be able to be used by the community at Kilbirnie Loch and at coastal rowing competitions around Scotland.

One of the guests was Kate Cuthbert, an Active Travel Officer for North Ayrshire Council who helps run the Walking in the Garnock Valley Project.

Kate has spent lockdown training walking leaders who will now take over and host walks.

Using the app, they can upload their walks to allow others to follow in their footsteps.

“The idea is to have organized walks where our leaders can take people out safely,” said Kate.

“There is lots of beautiful countryside and miles of coastline to be explored and we want to give people more opportunities to do just


Another project helping disabled people in Ayrshire is All Ability Access who help those in wheelchairs get off the tarmac and into wooded areas including Eglinton Park and Irvine and Saltcoats beaches.

Eglinton Park now has two wheelers that offer disabled people the chance to see the countryside and also keep a log of any wildlife they encounter.

There will also be wheelers at Saltcoats Beach.

Visitors on Wednesday also had the chance to see Irvine harbourside’s meadow that has taken over a year to reach its full bloom at the Beach Park.

Alyson Hunter, Garnock Connections Project

Manager, was one of the safari hosts and armed with her binoculars, visited

five sites within the harbourside area including the meadow..

Explaining the idea behind the day safari, she said:

“Now that lockdown has eased a little we felt it was time to get out and show people what we have been busy doing.

“A big part of our work involves celebrating local heritage and we have been working with Ice-cream Architecture to develop a digital archive and heritage trails app, titled Places That We Know.

“Both of these are already full of information about the local landscape, along with some local favourite walking and cycling trails.

“And if your favourite story or trail isn’t there, you can simply add it and share with the world.”

Alyson also praised the volunteers who were involved in the 28 projects.

She went on: “Volunteering is a vital part of efforts to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the Garnock Connections landscape. From nature reserves to historic buildings, the importance of the

volunteers cannot be underestimated.”

Part of the safari was an exhibition of projects at the Maritime Museum including details of the Working

Voices which features the lives and stories of people involved in the shipbuilding industry.

Alyson said: “It’s been a fantastic day and we hope people are encouraged to come forward and take part in some of the projects for the next year.”

Find out how to sign up at