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Things to do in Largs, Ayrshire

View from Millport Ferry © John Mcleish www.images-scotland
View from Millport Ferry © John Mcleish www.images-scotland

The popular seaside resort of Largs is on the Firth of Clyde, about 33 miles west of Glasgow.

Sloping down the rolling hills to the waterfront, the name Largs originates from "learg" meaning "hillside" in Gaelic.

Largs dates back to pre-Viking times and is well documented in history for the Battle of Largs between the Scottish and Norwegian armies in 1263.

The obelisk standing a mile south of the town and known locally as "the pencil" commemorates that battle.

The town was part of the North Cunninghame estate, presided over by the Montgomery clan and the old Skelmorlie Castle at Largs is still the home of the Montgomery family, also spelt Montgomerie.

The Skelmorlie Aisle is the remains of the old kirk or church.

When a new parish church was built in 1802 most of the old church was demolished but the aisle was preserved as it held the memorial and tomb of Sir Robert Montgomery and his wife, Dame Margaret Douglas.

The magnificent canopied tomb is now managed by Historic Scotland and is open to the public, along with the old kirkyard, by applying to the nearby Largs Museum for the key.

During the 19th century, Largs expanded as a popular seaside resort.

The pier was built in 1834, along with several large hotels. In 1895 the town was further enhanced with the building of the railway.

Several wealthy families built homes in the area, including Netherhall, the home of physicist and engineer, William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin.

During World War II, the Hollywood Hotel was used as the headquarters for Combined Training and was where the conference code-named "Rattle" took place in 1943 under Lord Louis Mountbatten.

There the historic decision was made to invade Europe at Normandy.


Present Day Largs

Modern-day Largs has a population of just over 11,000. It is well served culturally with the Barrfields Pavilion Theatre, museum and the Kelburn Country Centre.

Largs has a large swimming pool and is home to the National Sports Training Centre.

Douglas Park has an interesting neolithic chambered tomb.

It was originally covered in a cairn of stones and was known as Margaret's Law.

When it was excavated the tomb dated back to around 3000 BC.

The pleasant esplanade near the pebble beach is home to the well-known Nardini's ice cream parlour as well as an informative Heritage Centre.

Nearby is St Columba's Parish Church, built-in 1892, which still has the original organ and fine stained glass windows.

The town celebrates its Viking past with a festival each September.

It has also hosted the Scottish Mod in the past, which celebrates music, arts and culture in Gaelic.


Things to do in Largs

The award-winning family attraction, the Vikingar Centre, gives an interesting insight into life in Viking times.

The pier offers boat trips on a paddle steamer and ferries run to neighbouring islands.

Nearby is Kelburn Castle, believed to be the oldest castle in Scotland continuously inhabited by one family.

It is the ancestral home of the Earls of Glasgow, the de Boyles, who settled at Kelburn around 1140.

Brisbane House is just north of Largs. It was where the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Thomas Brisbane, was born.

The city of Brisbane in Australia was named in his honour.

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