Posted: 21 March 2024


After many years of hard work and dedication we are excited to announce that the River Ayr Access Steps were officially opened for use on the 17th of March by Dame Katherine Grainger.

The steps will be welcomed by the rowers and coaches from the River Ayr Project - which is specifically aimed at those who might not have the ability to engage in physical activity outside school due to personal or financial circumstances. The project works with multiple partners including funding from Love Rowing, to give young people the opportunity to take part in Rowing, running on throughout the school year and during the holidays. In 2022 the project was awarded the Initiative of the Year Award at the South Ayrshire Sports Awards and was recognised again in 2023 winning the Programme of the Year Award.

Growing each year, the project has worked with multiple different groups of young people including Young Carers, Active Schools and even some Ukrainian Refugees. We are excited to continue working within the community!

“We are so grateful to the incredible Scottish Rowing team who have been providing free rowing lessons for our young carers for the past two years. The impact of these sessions has been extremely positive. They offer time for the young person to relax, spend time outdoors and learn a new skill, as well as informal peer support. It has been wonderful to see the young people grow so much in confidence and ability - all thanks to the support and encouragement from the Scottish Rowing staff and volunteers. Our young people were delighted to be invited along on Sunday to show off their rowing skills at the launch of the new pontoon. This is a fantastic facility which will support these lessons to continue, and many more water sports to thrive in South Ayrshire.”
- Claire Flanagan, South Ayrshire Young Carers Strategy Lead Officer.


The opening event saw a good turn out with representatives from Scottish Rowing including Dorothy Roberts (Director of Performance), Dolphin House Outdoor Education Centre, South Ayrshire Thriving Communities, South Ayrshire Young Carers, Ayrshire Academy and University of the West of Scotland. Along with many locals who came to support and check out the new facilities.

One local member of the community said that “it has been very refreshing to see the young people out on the water over the last few years and I hope this means that more of them can get involved. The colourful boats are always lovely to see when I’m out for my walks.”

River Ayr 2

The Access Steps which were made possible by investment from South Ayrshire Council were very appreciated by the young people from South Ayrshire Young Carers as they were very excited to be launching from the steps for the first time. They had previously been launching via a small beach embankment which required them to wade in. They are very happy that they can now launch whilst keeping their feet dry!

It was an honour to have Dame Katherine Grainger along to officially open the steps. She spoke about the importance of sport for young people and how this positive change will allow for more progression of rowing and other water sports in the area.  

Becky Bannister, one of the coaches for the project said The new steps will help the project be more accessible and to run at full capacity. At the previous launching site there was a very steep sandy bank that we had to negotiate the equipment and people up/down, and under the water there were hidden sharp rocks that would break the fins off the boats, which then put them out of action until we could replace them.”


We look forward to continuing our work with the partners at River Ayr and to bring more rowing opportunities to the young people in the area.

If you have any questions about the project or want to get involved, please contact Mark Senter,


Photographs courtesy of South Ayrshire Council.