Tips from the locals: Ayrshire

What comes to mind when you think of Ayrshire?  Robert Burns country?  Top golf courses like Turnberry and Royal Troon?  Picturesque coastline?  Country parks and gardens?  Beautiful walks?  Ayrshire, curled into the lower West Coast, offers all this and much more.  Make yourself at home in one of the many quality assured Ayshire holiday cottages for a truly authentic experience of the region and discover more about an area that inspired Scotland’s most famous poet.  We asked some local holiday cottage owners for their tips on family friendly places to visit, interesting walks and wildlife watching spots – here are their suggestions:

The River Ayr

Meandering along The River Ayr Way gives you the chance to enjoy beautiful, and varied, scenery and to learn more about the area’s history.  Following the river from its source at Glenbuck, The River Ayr Way winds 44 miles down to the sea at Ayr, and is home to a range of wildlife such as heron, otters, roe deer, badgers and kingfishers.

For an easy, flat, stretch of the walk, you can follow an old railway line from the river’s source to Muirkirk.  At the other end of the river, start at the bridge in the grounds of Auchincruive Park, just outside Ayr, and choose from a variety of walks around the river at its most interesting part; with spectacular gorges and kingfishers darting to and fro.

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

Rockpooling at Dunure and Culzean

A great (and free) family friendly activity is rock-pooling and beach combing, providing hours of fun and fascination.  There are many places along Ayrshire’s stunning 80 mile stretch of scenic coastline to while away an afternoon by the seaside but two top spots are the beaches at Dunure and Culzean in South Ayrshire.

The ruins of the 13th century Dunure Castle are perched above the beach, as if left on guard, scouring the waves.  As well as the shore to scavenge, there is also a good play area for children, offering one of the best views of the Isle of Arran from the Ayrshire coast.  On a clear day, it feels almost as if you can leap off the swing and land upon the shores of Arran.

From Dunure, travel a short distance down the coast to the National Trust property Culzean Castle and the surrounding Country Park.  With five kilometres of coastline (designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest), there is plenty for children to explore from sandy beaches to rock pools and caves around the headlands.  Keep an eye out for seals, as they can often be spotted clambering on and off the rocks a short distance from the beach.  There is also an adventure playground in the grounds of the castle, in the southern end of the park.

Burns Museums 

No visit to Ayrshire would be complete without stopping by the award-winning Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway and the fantastic Burns House Museum in Mauchline to find out more about the life of Scotland’s national poet and explore the places he lived.  The Robert Burns Birthplace Musuem groups together a number of fantastic attractions, including the cottage in which he was born, the Brig O’Doon bridge and Alloway Auld Kirk featured in Tam O’Shanter, and the Burns Monument.  

The Maclaurin Art Gallery

Set in the beautiful grounds of Rozelle Estate Park, The Maclaurin Art Gallery is a real gem, with great exhibitions by local, national and international artists.  Make sure you also take a look at the collections in the Rozelle House Gallery – home to a collection of paintings based on the Burns poem Tam O’Shanter.  There is also a great tea room in Rozelle House.

The Lang Scots Mile – Ayr Sea Front

Apparently a mile in Scotland used to be longer than in England – a Scottish mile was said to be around 1,984 yards, whilst an English mile was 1,760 yards.  You can walk an old Scottish mile in Ayr – The Lang Scots Mile is a lovely stroll with views across the Firth of Clyde to Kintyre and Arran.  (It is also a nod to Burns – the ‘lang Scots miles’ are mentioned in Tam O’ Shanter).  The walk ends at the Millennium Bridge over the mouth of the River Doon, where a number of different birds can be found.  Continue along the coast, however, and you will come across Greenan Castle, another picturesque ruin left clinging to a cliff above the sea.

Do you have any tips for things to do or places to visit?  What do you love the most about Ayrshire?  Leave any comments or questions below.

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