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Ayr

I may be passing through the Ayr area in October. My wife’s grandfather was from that way. Ayr, Kilmarnock, Auchen??? So I am looking for any ideas, suggestions for touring that part of Scotland. Her family from that area were coal and slate miners.
I don’t seem to hear too much about this region.
Thanks

Posted by
4159 posts

An interesting place for a visit is in Alloway , about three miles south of town . The Robert Burns , birthplace , museum and memorial park are interesting and beautiful . If you are literate and appreciate poetry , the area will be meaningful . Just across the lane from the park , The Brig O' Doon ( Bridge over the river Doon ) provides a lovely vista . It is also the appropriated source of the title of the 1947 musical " Brigadoon" by Lerner and Loewe . If you take the time to read " Tam O'Shanter " , the narrative poem by Burns , the story of the place will have a deeper meaning for you

Posted by
6744 posts

Auchinleck, just outside Cumnock, is the 3rd place name

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you. It’s a handwritten document and I could not make out the ending.

Posted by
6744 posts

If you are looking to understand your grandfather's mining life a good resource is this website- https://www.thelostvillages.co.uk/

I actually recommend visiting at least one of these ghost (abandoned/cleared) villages.

Another very interesting website is this one- http://www.scottishmining.co.uk/155.html

It is hard to imagine now how much mining there was in Ayrshire, and how recently it finished. This is recent history.

It would be useful to know how long you have in Ayrshire- is this just a day visit or longer?

If you are there on a Friday or Sunday you might like to visit the Cumnock Heritage Centre.

Of more conventional tourist interest is Dumfries House, which is one of the better kept secrets of the Scottish tourist industry

South of Ayr there is Culzean Castle, and also the Electric Brae, and the Coastal Drive down the A77 is a lesser known scenic road trip- it is part of the SWC300- South West Coastal 300 road trip.

Back to Rabbie Burns- at Kirkoswald you also have Souter Johnnie's Cottage

With enough time you should also visit The Galloway Forest Park (a dark skies area), Sanquhar and the Lead/Gold mining area up in the Lowther Hills at Leadhills and Wanlockhead (including the Heritage Railway there- Scotland's highest railway). At Sanquhar the Tollbooth Museum is a 'must'. You also learn there about the weaving industry of the area for instance.

The drive there from Sanquhar up the Mennock Pass is one of Scotland's great road journeys.

Posted by
930 posts

Great post. Tons of interesting stuff to click on there. I've spent a lot of time on the Ayrshire coast. All the towns down that way are worth visiting. I'd struggle to put together an itinerary for a visitor, but right from Largs down to Girvan (and beyond) there's lots of places to see. I used to like going to Croy Shore and Dunure in the evening to catch the sunset over Ailsa Craig.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks isn31c,
I will be checking out all the info you mentioned. Very interesting. Thanks again.

Posted by
930 posts

Come back to us if you'd like to talk about Ayrshire some more. It's a region that probably doesn't see a lot of visitors from North America but it's great.

My family background is Irish immigrants coming to work in the mines (pits as I'd call them in my dialect) in Lanarkshire, Scotland, so I have an interest in that history too. I'd be interested in hearing more about what you might have planned for your visit to Ayrshire.

Posted by
6744 posts

Going back to your family history- if you are looking to develop that further there is an East Ayrshire Family History Society who may be able to help you. Google their website if interested.
I'm interested in the slate quarrying round there because I'm not familiar with that in Ayrshire. That sounds like a hidden part of the area's history.
I think more of slate on the west coast south of Oban and between Oban and Fort William.
Granite is the stone I associate with Ayrshire, especially Ailsa Craig, for its curling stones.
Also limestone.

Posted by
1669 posts

I'd add Vikingar in Largs as well, and then an ice cream on the front from Nardini's. Possibly watching the car tetris on the ferry to Millport.

Ayrshire is both an industrial and an agricultural county and you'll find a lot to see there. Seconded though for Dumfries House, not only for the house but the King, when Duke of Rothesay, set up some sustainable housing there and a training school for traditional crafts. There is a good restaurant at it.

Posted by
930 posts

Millport and Arran are both easy day trips if you've got a base in Ayr, Troon or Ardrossan. Or Largs of course. I tend towards the other towns more than Largs. Irvine ain't pretty in some parts, but it's a great beach for walking too.

Posted by
1669 posts

Irvine ain't pretty in some parts

Very Parson's Egg! You mean bits of Irvine are pretty? ;-)``

Posted by
930 posts

You mean bits of Irvine are pretty? ;-)``

I had one of my most memorable school trips to the Magnum Centre, which is long gone sadly. It's really nice sand at Irvine. Nice easy place to park to get a walk on the beach. I am a nerd who loves to see the 40's - 60's parts of East Kilbride and Cumbernauld that still remain. I don't know Irvine intimately in that way.

If we're talking East Ayrshire, from Beith out to Dunlop and Stewarton is quite pretty and pastoral. I worked in wedding photography in my late teens and early 20's and I did quite a bit of work out there. Went to some nice little churches and saw a couple of really grand old farmhouses. Our studio got a bit of a name amongst some folk with big farms out that way. I left a 50mm Zeiss lens for Hasselblad in a church in one of those little villages one day and had to frantically drive back to retrieve it. The doors of the church were locked by that time, but the minister heard us and returned our lens. It was like a scene from a comedy sketch.

Another run [in the car] I used to like doing was from Strathaven down through Darvel and Kilmarnock down to the coast. It's a good road down from Strathaven to Killie. The road from Barrhead out to Ardrossan and Saltcoats is a good run too. I used to enjoy blasting across the Eaglesham Moor road from East Kilbride and on to the A77 to the coast. I don't think that road exists in the form it used to now.

I went to an all night rave in Kirkmichael in 1991. That's near Patna. That was very rural. The access road was a steep hill and there was a frost in the morning. I was on a bus, but there was a car in the hedge or upside down at every bend.

There used to be a little Italian cafe or two in all the Ayrshire seaside towns. I remember totally original from the 40's and 50's interiors as late as twenty or so years ago. It would be up to the visitor to discover if any remain. Nardini's, as mentioned above, is in Largs and is most famous.

Kilmarnock isn't great. It one of those places that's suffered a big decline in the town centre and the schemes have always been quite rough. I won't link to it here, but BBC made a documentary series some years ago in Kilmarnock called "The Scheme". You can look for it online if you're interested.

Stuart mentioned Sanquhar further up. It's some great driving around there to Leadhills and Douglas Water. Last time I was in Leadhills I was right up in the low cloud. Biggar is another place that's easily accessible from south East Ayrshire that I rate highly.

Hopefully these ramblings give anyone with an interest in the region locations to Google. It's worth looking into for a little trip off the beaten path.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks to everyone for their input. We have decided to put this part of the trip off until our 2025 trip. What we thought may just be a day trip has turned, because of your suggestions, into what we think will be a four day stay. Thanks again.