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Things to do in Ayr, Ayrshire

View of Ayr © John Mcleish www.images-scotland
View of Ayr © John Mcleish www.images-scotland

Ayr lies 32 miles southwest of Glasgow overlooking the Firth of Clyde with splendid views of the nearby Isle of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.

With such inspirational natural beauty, it is no wonder Ayr has been the home to many painters, writers and poets.

No one is brave enough to attempt to date when Ayr was founded, but it certainly has a long and fascinating history with some interesting landmarks and antiquities.

It was certainly well established before the Magna Carta was signed and has the oldest burgh charter in Scotland, issued in 1205. However this "auld toun" as it is affectionately known, is keeping abreast of the times with modern technology and a thriving community of around 46,000 people.

The original castle in Ayr was built in 1197 and was superceded by a citadel in 1654 built by Oliver Cromwell on the same foundations. Some of the walls can still be seen today.

Much of Ayr's architecture dates back to the 15th century including the old toll booth and Louden Hall. St John's Tower was the site of the first Scottish parliament in 1315, led by Robert the Bruce long before he was officially crowned King of Scotland.

The Auld Brig which is still used by pedestrians has outlived the New Bridge which was erected in the 1700s as its replacement. During severe flooding in the 19th century, the New Bridge was washed away and had to be rebuilt.

Other interesting buildings worth seeking out are the Borderline Theatre, the County Building, Sandgate and the Town Hall with its spire, all excellent examples of architecture from days gone by.

Present Day Ayr

The pretty port town runs along the banks of the broad Ayr River with tall town houses and modern apartments overlooking the busy harbour. The Victorian town centre has plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and chain stores and is surrounded by public parks.

Ayr is well known for its horse racing and sport as well as its beautiful coastal landscapes. It is just four miles from Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and easy to reach by train from Glasgow, Stranraer, Kilmarnock and Newcastle-on-Tyne with coaches and buses offering good local services.

Things to do in Ayr

As well as celebrating the history and architecture of this lovely town, there is plenty more for visitors to see and do. The beaches are popular with families in the summer, or take a boat trip. Walkers and hikers will be in their element and salmon fishing is notoriously good.

Golfers may want to slip over to play a round on the links at the Prestwick Golf Club, home of the British Open, or at one of the three public golf courses in Ayr.

Robert Burns, writer of many poems including the words to Auld Lang Syne was born at nearby Alloway, which houses a Burns Museum and Library. The ruins of the church which inspired his poem Tam O'Shanter are an interesting attraction for fans to visit.

The Scottish Grand National, the National Hunt and the Ayr Gold Cup Festival bring many punters to the racecourse which was has been in operation since 1770.

Families will enjoy a day at the Ayr Farm Park or a day trip to the nearby Isle of Arran by ferry.

Famous sons of Ayr include John Loudon McAdam, a famous engineer and road builder; Kirsty Hume, the model and face of Chanel, and footballer Alan McInally.

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