ayrshire reserves

SWT Ayrshire manages 15 wildlife reserves. All are open to the public, and we welcome help with their care and management.


  • AUCHALTON MEADOW, CROSSHILL: A 12 ha. meadow lying on the spoil heap of a former lime works and small quarry. The dry grassland communities are rich in wildflowers and orchids, due to the influence of the base-rich soil. Home to more than 130 species of flowers. NS 335036

  • AYR GORGE WOODLAND, FAILFORD: This woodland reserve of 40 ha. lines a steep ravine in the valley of the River Ayr and is partly semi-natural and dominated by sessile oak. Inhabitants of the wood include otter, badger, red squirrel and roedeer. NS 457249

  • CORSEHILLMUIR PLANTATION, KILWINNING: A 28 ha. mixed broad-leaved woodland, planted in the late 1940s, although the site has a long history of woodland cover. Roe deer inhabit this wood, which is also rich in plantlife, with over 150 species recorded. NS 315435

  • DALMELLINGTON MOSS, DALMELLINGTON: A remnant raised peat bog and adjacent marsh area, extending to 28ha. It still retains intact bog vegetation, containing rare plants and large heath butterfly. NS 465063

  • FEOCH MEADOWS, BARRHILL: This 116 ha. reserve is one of the best examples of herb-rich grassland remaining in the country. The large number of flowering plants makes the reserve excellent for butterflies, with 14 species recorded. NX 263822

  • GAILES MARSH, IRVINE: Situated within the extensive Ayrshire coastal plain, this is an area of 18 ha. of marsh alongside open water and grassland. It is rich in plant species. NS 324360

  • GARNOCK FLOODS, IRVINE: An extensive low lying floodplain of semi-improved pasture and wetland depressions by the River Garnock, extending to 17 ha. Excellent for wildfowl, especially in winter. Pools with muddy fringes are particularly favoured by waders, such as snipe. NS 306417

  • GREY HILL GRASSLANDS, GIRVAN: This 31ha. reserve is made up of rough grassland interspersed with herb-rich turf, situated on outcrops of serpentine rock. Botanically very interesting, with spectacular views of the Ayrshire coastline, and beyond. Loch Lochton provides a fine display of white and yellow water-lilies. NX 181941

  • KNOCKSHINNOCH LAGOONS, NEW CUMNOCK: An area of swamp, fen and carr, with open water, this 78 ha. site was formed in part from subsidence following deep mining for coal. A large bing at the southern end is being colonised by birch trees. This reserve is a vital stopping off point for migrant birds and is home to a variety of wetland birds. NS 614131

  • LAWTHORN WOOD, IRVINE: This mature, broad-leaved 3 ha. woodland is a predominant feature on a low hill top on the edge of Irvine New Town. NS 345412

  • OLDHALL PONDS, IRVINE: This mixed woodland and grassland site extends to 14 ha., with a series of ephemeral ponds with diverse flora and invertebrates. NS 337365

  • PERCETON WOOD, IRVINE: A thin strip of woodland, covering 3 ha., is a long established part of the old estate grounds. Trees include horse chestnut, beech, lime, sycamore and rhododendron. Ns 355403

  • SHEWALTON SANDPITS, IRVINE: This 15 ha. reserve was created from disused sand and gravel pits and is protected from the worst of the Atlantic weather by natural sand dunes to the west. A shallow lake with islands was created, and there are older pools scattered around the reserve, which attract up to 80 species of birds. NS 327371

  • SHEWALTON WOOD, IRVINE: This 135 ha. site is a relic raised bog known as Shewalton Moss. A dry heath colonised by birch forms the major woodland habitat, while the reserve also contains conifer plantations, former pasture, and ponds. NS 345348

  • SOURLIE WOOD, IRVINE: This 6 ha. reserve was formerly the site of gravel workings and coal yards. Now long overgrown, there is a diverse scrub and woodland habitat. NS 344416