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Ayrshire and Isle of Arran

Ballantrae courtesy courtesy Calverton cam The county of Ayrshire is made up of the Isle of Arran and the areas of East, South and North Ayrshire. Ayrshire sits on the west coast of Scotland by the Firth of Clyde and encompasses the area to the west and partly to the south of Glasgow.


Souter Johnnie's cottage by Barbara Ballard This part of Scotland was home to the poet Robert Burns. A museum with details on his life is in the thatched cottage at Alloway where he was born in 1759. Another Burnís site is Souter Johnnieís cottage, home to the village shoemaker who appeared in Burnsís poem, Tam oí Shanter. The alehouse is restored and thereís a thatched cottage with period furniture, Burnsís relics and a shoemakerís workshop. At Tarbolton the Bachelorsí Club, a 17th century thatched house, was the meeting place of Burns and his friends for debates. In the large town of Irvine admirers of Burns can follow a themed town trail.

Crossraguel abbey by Barbara Ballard Ayrshire has two abbeys of note. Crossraguel, near the village of Maybole, was founded as a Cluniac monastery in 1244. The roofless but extensive remains include a church, chapterhouse, gatehouse, cloister and tall tower house.

Kilwinning Abbey, founded as a Benedictine house between 1140/1162, flourished for 400 years and covered several acres. The great west doorway, south wall of nave, and the gable of the south transept are preserved.

Largs Harbour by Barbara Ballard Largs is a seaside town with a pleasant promenade, busy in summer. There are lots of services for visitors. Largs Old Kirk has a painted timber ceiling and a 1636 monument with an elaborate carved stone tomb. The town of Ayr boasts a long sandy beach.

Culzean castle distant view by Barbara Ballard Culzean castle garden by Barbara Ballard The most famous castle in this area of Scotland is Culzean. Dramatically sited on the very edge of a high cliff, the castle was remodeled by Robert Adams in 1772-1790 for the 10th Earl of Cassillis. The staircase is a not to be missed feature in the castle. It seems to be floating in the air without support. A circular saloon, painted ceilings and friezes are other features to see along with a collection of pictures, 18th century furniture, and armoury. The extensive (565 acres) grounds contain a deer park, courtyards, ponds, gardens, orangery, woodland walks, and Visitor Centre.

Other castles to tempt the visitor are Sorn, Newark, Dundonald, Kilmarnock, and Kelburn. Blairquhan, south of Kirkmichael, is a turreted ashlar stone mansion built by William Burn. Its approach is by a three-mile drive set with an avenue of lime trees along the River Girvan. An elegant entrance hall, picture gallery and furnishings, and walled gardens are on offer.

Arran by Barbara Ballard The Isle of Arran, although only 20 miles long, manages to encompass landscape that is both mountainous and, in the south, where seaside villages are part of the picture, more habitable. Walking, cycling, golfing and climbing are among the outdoor sports available to the traveller. Goatfell is the tallest of the islandís mountains at 2867 feet and a favourite with hikers.

Brodick Castle by Barbara Ballard The main town on Arran is Brodick, site of one of the islandís ferry terminals and a heritage museum with a blacksmith shop and exhibits on local archaeology and geology. Made of red sandstone, Brodick castle dates from the 13th century and was twice extended. It became the property of the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1500s.

Brodick Castle soup tureen courtesy National Trust Scotland Silver, porcelain, paintings, and a fan collection attract visitors. The drawing roomís ceiling is a gilded heraldic one. The castle, set in a country park, has a Victorian garden and an outstanding rhododendron garden. A second castle on the island, Lochranza, is a 16th century reconstruction of an earlier tower house.

On the island are a number of prehistoric sites under the care of Historic Scotland. One of the most important sites of its kind in Britain is Machrie Moor Stone Circles, the remains of five Bronze Age circles.

Ayrshire and Arran Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Auchagallon Stone Circle
Near Macrie Arran, off the A841
Four miles north of Blackwaterfoot

Bachelorsí Club
Sandgate St, Tarbolton
On the B730/744 near Prestwick, South Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1292 541 940

Blairquhan
Maybole, off the B7045, A77
.5 mile (.8km) south of Kirkmichael, South Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1655 770 239
Web: Blairquhan

Brodick Castle
Isle of Arran
Tel. 0 1770 302 202

Brodick Heritage Museum
1.5 miles (2.4km) north of Brodick, Arran
On the A841
Tel. 0 1770 302 636

Carn Ban
In remote countryside 3.5 miles (5.8km) northeast of Lagg, Arran
On A841; reached by four mile walk

Crossraguel Abbey
Two miles (3km) past the village of Maybole, Ayrshire
On the A77
Tel. 0 1655 883 113

Culzean Castle
Four miles (7km) west of Maybole, Ayrshire
12 miles (19.3km) southwest of Ayr
On the A719, off the A77
Tel. 0 1655 760 615

Dalgarven Mill
Dalgarven, Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1294 552 448
Web: Dalgarven Mill

Dean Castle Country Park
Kennedy Drive, Kilmarnock
Tel. 0 1563 522 702
Web: Dean Castle Country Park

Dundonald Castle
Dundonald, Ayrshire, on the B730

Goatfell
Isle of Arran
Access from Brodick Country Park or from Cladach on the A841
Tel. 0 1770 302 462

Greenock Custom House Museum
Greenock, North Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1475 726 331

Kelburn Castle, Country Centre and Estate
Fairlie
Tel. 01475 568 685
Web: Kelburn Castle, Country Centre and Estate

Kilmarnock Castle
One mile north of the town of Kilmarnock
On the A71/A77
Tel. 0 1563 525 192

Kilwinning Abbey
Kilwinning, North Ayrshire
On the A737

Largs Old Kirk and Monument
Largs, Ayrshire, on the A78/A760
Tel. 0131 668 8800

Lochranza Castle
Lochranza, on the northern tip of Isle of Arran
On the A841

Machrie Moor Stone Circles
Three miles north of Blackwaterfoot
On west side of Arran, off the A841
1.5 mile walk to the site

Moss Farm Road Stone Circle
3 miles (5km) north of Blackwaterfoot, Arran
Off the A841

Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume
Dalgarven, Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1294 552 448
Web: Dalgarven Mill

Newark Castle
Port Glasgow, North Ayrshire
On the A8
Tel. 0 1475 741 858

Pencil
On Bowen Craig at the southern end of Largs, North Ayrshire, on the A78

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Heritage Park
Alloway, Ayr, KA7 4PQ
Tel. 0 844 493 260

Scottish Maritime Museum
Gottries Rd, Irvine, Ayrshire
On the A78
Tel. 0 1294 278 283

Sorn Castle
Sorn, 4 miles (6km) east of Mauchline, East Ayrshire
On the B743
Tel. 0 1290 551 555

Souter Johnnieís Cottage
Main Rd, Kirkoswald, S. Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1655 760 603

Torr aíChaisteal Fort
4 miles (6km) south of Blackwaterfoot, Arran Off the A841

Torrylin Cairn
.4 mile south-east of Lagg, Arran
On southern tip of the island off A841

Turnberry Castle
6.2 miles north of Girvan

Weaverís Cottage
Minor road off A737 at the Cross, Kilbarchan
Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire
Tel. 0 1505 705 588

Ayrshire and Arran Visitor Information Centres

Ayrshire and Arran VIC
South Ayrshire Council
5th floor, Burns House
Burns Statue Square, Ayr
KA7 1UT
Tel 0 1292 616 225
Open: Jan, Jun, and Oct-March: Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm; July and Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, on Sun from 10am-5pm; Sep Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm

Brodick VIC
Brodick at The Pier
Isle of Arran, KA27 8AU
Tel. 0 1770 303 776
Open: March, April, Oct, Feb: Mon-Thu 9am-5pm, on Fri from 9am-7.30pm, Sat 10am-5pm; May Mon-Thu and Sat 9am-5pm, Fri 9am-7.30pm, Sun 10am-5pm; June-Sep Mon-Sat 9am-7.30pm, on Sun from 10am-5pm

Largs VIC
Railway Station
Main St KA30 8AN
Tel. 0 1475 689 962
Open: April-May: 9am-5pm, on Sun in May also 11am-3pm; June: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-3pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm; Sep: Tue-Sat 9am-5pm

Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard;
Brodick Castle soup tureen courtesy National Trust for Scotland
Ballantrae on Ayrshire coast courtesy Calverton cam

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