This castle and park are situated in the middle of town but it feels like its out in the countryside. The castle, which was restored in the first half of the 20th Century and was once the seat of the Boyd family, is made up of a windowless 14th Century keep and a 15th Century palace. It now contains a collection of medieval arms, armour, tapestries and instruments. There is also a visitor centre and restaurant. Entrance to the park is free but you have to pay to go into the castle buildings.
ST JOHNS TOWER
St Johns Tower is near the centre of Ayr but far enough away that a lot of people probably don't even know its there. Its hidden away in a residential area and not normally open to the public. I'm not sure of the history of it though.
Location Bruce Cresent.
To get there from the town centre - take one of the side streets off the Sandgate through to Fort Street and then go down Charlotte St, its in a park at the end of the street.
Or turn right at the bottom of Wellington Sq [when facing the court] and you can see the Tower ahead of you
Another place where you can walk along the River Ayr is at the small hamlet of Failford between Ayr and Mauchline. You can park in the village and follow the paths down through the gorge and then head back up to the Failford Inn for some refreshments when you are done! I've been a couple of times and its a nice walk
This is also another place with a link to Burns. It was here that he said goodbye to "Highland Mary" and the memorial on the small hill behind the hamlet commenmorates this
EGLINTON CASTLE & PARK
Eglinton Castle is situated between Irvine and Kilwinning, just off the A78. The castle itself is mostly in ruins now but there are some nice walks around the grounds and of course the obligatory cafe for a relaxing drink after.
The village of Turnberry is most well known for its world class golf course and hotel & spa but it also has a lovely beach. Me & my dad used to go a lot of walks there when I was a kid - along the beach then back along the golf course to look for rogue golf balls! I hadn't been for years but lately I have taken a few evening strolls there and its lovely. Made even better by having the beach mostly to myself! The picture just shows a smaller cove at the end of the beach but its actually quite long - takes me around an hour to walk to the lighthouse and back.
The route down to the beach isn't very obvious, its just a gated path at the far end of the golf course.
The lighthouse at the far end of the beach is built on the ruins of what was Turnberry castle. Many believe this was the birthplace of Robert the Bruce since his mother was Countess of Carrick [the area of Ayrshire where Turnberry is] and known to have been living there around the time he was born. He, in fact, became Earl of Carrick on her death and the title then became a Royal one when he was crowned King, now being held by Prince Charles.
AUCHINCRUIVE - GARDENS
Not far from Oswald House there is a walled garden that has some nice areas to wander around. Its not the easiest place to access since the gates nearest the main pathway are all locked and it CAN look shut up. The actual entrance is up a side path just before you reach the side of the garden. I love this one little corner that has this "secret garden" feel to it! :)
This is where I often walk to if I walk from home and feel like a long walk. Follow part of the blue path from the edge of the estate, along the river to the walled garden and then back round to my village :)
Locally, Auchincruive estate is most well known for being home to one campus of the Scottish Agricultural College. However with its location beside the River Ayr, it also offers some nice walks. There are around 4 colour coded walks of varying lengths and on both sides of the river, taking in woodland, an old railway and even a random Burns Monument hidden in the trees!
If coming by car, there is free parking at Oswald Hall [signposted from the road into the estate]. There is also a cycle route from Ayr all the way to Auchincruive along the river.
For me, I can walk here from my house if I'm feeling energetic!
- Hiking and Walking
The island of Grand Cumbrae lies just off the Ayrshire coast and is easily accessible from the town of Largs by ferry. The main town on the island is Millport, where all the pubs, shops etc are. It also has a few bike hire places as one of the popular activities on the island is to cycle round it. I remember doing this when I was in my teens and its a nice fairly flat route around the edge of the island with lots of nice little coves to stop at. I've always wanted to go back and do it again! Maybe some day, another of those things I talk about but never seem to get around to..
Largs, in the north of Ayrshire [take the A78 from Ayr], is a popular seaside town, great for daytrips. Its famous for the Nardini's Italian ice cream [shop is located right next to the ferry terminal] which is delicious!! There is a beach with all the usual amusements, restaurants and some interesting shops. Its also the ferry terminal for the island of Grand Cumbrae
I like to park at the marina, on the edge of the town, and walk into the centre along the shore, passed "the Pencil" [big needle like structure in the photo], get some ice cream and stroll back.
On my last visit I also discovered a viewpoint up in the hills above the town [it was signposted from the main road]. It wasn't the best day, weather wise, but even then the views over the town and islands was worth a look. Would be great on a clear sunny day!
A few miles north of Ayr, just off the A78, is the town of Irvine. Not many historic sights to be seen here, given its a new town. It is, however, home to numerous golf courses, the Magnum leisure centre [with swimming pool, ice rink, bowling, squash, badminton as well as a bar and various events], lovely beach and some nice indoor shopping at the Rivergate centre. There are some nice buildings around the High St though, like those pictured
ARDROSSAN - GATEWAY TO ARRAN
Ardrossan doesn't have much worth seeing in its own right, although it is going through some regeneration around the marina area.
The main reason to go here is to take a ferry over to the Isle of Arran -somewhere you will no doubt see if you are ANYWHERE near the Ayrshire coastline! Despite living so close for so long its something I have only ever talked about doing but wish to rectify soon!
As well as a nice harbour area Girvan also has a lovely sandy beach and a promenade that would be great for cycling/inline skating as well as walking.
More pics of Girvan in the travelogue
ST JOHNS TOWER
A view you don't often get to see. From St Johns Tower looking towards Ayr shore, Carrick Hills, and the Sheriff court and County Buildings in the foreground. Normally the tower is closed to the public but its usually open during the annual Doors Open Day which is when I visited.
Girvan is another seaside town located about 20 miles south of Ayr. Despite me living so close I hadn't really been there for many years - except passing through - but this summer I took a trip down there for an afternoon and its got a really nice harbour area! Its long been a holiday spot - my dad spent some of his childhood holidays there and there are many B&Bs, holiday homes and caravan parks in and around Girvan.
Since Ayr is its nearest big town its pretty well provided for with shops, cafes etc considering the size. I particularly like Bobs ice cream place, round the back of the Marine fish & chip shop!!
KELBURN COUNTRY CASTLE & COUNTRY PARK
Situated near Largs in North Ayrshire, this castle is the home of the Earls of Glasgow. Its quite a while since I have been here but there are plenty of walks around the glens in the grounds and lots of activities for kids. I remember there being animals, an adventure playground and my favourite part which was a bamboo forest although I think it may be gone now.