Straiton is a small village a few miles south east of Ayr. As well as being pretty picturesque, its a big hiking area - there is a monument on a big hill just outside the village and I think thats a popular walk/climb - and last stop before reaching the sparsely populated Galloway Forest park.
See the Straiton and Stinchar travelogue
Tam O' Shanter Experience
I never know quite what to expect from these sort of places.
This one seems to have sprung up based on a poem written by Burns many years ago, and Tam was a character in the poem. I suppose the place is supposed to be all things 'Burns' and if you?re a great fan of his poetry, then I guess this could be something of a pilgrimage for you!
Us? We just have great difficulty in reading/understanding what he was talking about as the dialect is pretty inpenetratable.
All in all, there is a shop, restaurant and audio visual of Burn's famous poem lasting 12 mins (?1.50 per adult, 70p children). We decided to go into the A/V, which turned out to be a slide show set to a voice over of the poem - a kind of animated narration. Never understood a word of it!
The restaurant closes at 5pm and has a nice outside seating area/playground.
Nearby are the Monument Gardens, Burns Cottage and the famous bridge from the poem 'Brig O Doon'.
One of the reasons that I first took the walk along the River Ayr was because I wanted to go to this area known as the Stepping Stones. I'd passed them every day going to and from work for the last 6 years [you can see them from the main road] but had never actually been there.
Its a nice walk though. I start beside Ayr college, in town, and walk through Craigie Park and then follow the path through the woods and passed the golf course to eventually reach the Stepping Stones and then walk back along the other side of the river passed Wallace's Heel, a small indentation in the ground that was supposed to have been made my William Wallace as he jumped across the river [yeah right!!], which is next to a small water spring.
ALLOWAY & BURNS COUNTRY
Although Alloway has long since been swallowed up as a suburb of Ayr, it used to be a village in its own right. For the size of it there are a surprising number of tourist attraction, mostly relating to Alloways most famous son - the poet Robert Burns who was born in a cottage on the main street. Its now open as a museum.
" BURNS MONUMENT"
The Grecian style Burns Monument, situated in Alloway, next to the Brig O'Doon, and dedicated to the poet Robert Burns who was born in Alloway. It was built in 1823. There are statues of Burn's drinking buddies in the gardens surrounding the monument.
Another view of the Burns Monument, this time from the Auld Kirk graveyard
Alloway Auld Kirk. Burn's parents are buried here and it is also mentioned in his poem Tam O'Shanter. This is where the witches were supposedly having a party when one of them chased Tam O'Shanter to the Brig O'Doon and pulled the tail off his horse, Meg. In wintertime its usually floodlit at night and looks suitably eerie!
The graveyard of the Auld Kirk is open to the public but you can't go inside the ruins of the church itself, I took this photo through the bars of the gate! It did look a bit creepy though and I can see why Rabbie Burns might have thought it would make a good setting for the witches ceilidh in his poem "Tam O'Shanter"
There are lots of interesting stones in the graveyard, many of them must be at least 200 years old. This was one of the fancier ones though!
A view of the River Doon taken from the infamous Brig O'Doon
The "new" church in Alloway, directly across the road from the Auld Kirk and next to the Burns Monument. I recently saw the inside during Doors Open Day and it has some lovely stained glass windows.
This summer, during June, July and August, the church has been open to visitors on weekdays.