Wax­ing po­etic about birth­place of the Bard

With its mix of his­tory, her­itage and fab­u­lous ameni­ties, Ayr­shire is a great place to call home

The Herald - Scotland's Homes - - Introduction -

THE com­bi­na­tion of stun­ning scenery and thriv­ing towns and vil­lages con­tin­ues to draw peo­ple to Ayr­shire. The re­gion is a di­verse mix of coun­try­side and coast­line, busy high streets and tiny vil­lages, rolling hills and rich wood­land. Home­buy­ers flock to Ayr­shire be­cause it of­fers a re­laxed life­style in a spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

One of its main strengths is its ac­ces­si­bil­ity – it might feel like a mil­lion miles from the busy city cen­tres of Glas­gow and Ed­in­burgh but thanks to ex­cel­lent road and rail links, it is within easy reach of both. The en­cour­ag­ing growth in the new homes mar­ket has helped bring more fam­i­lies to Ayr­shire, at­tracted by a mix of good schools and im­pres­sive leisure fa­cil­i­ties, plus its thriv­ing arts and cul­tural scene.

The new Ayr­shire Col­lege – formed fol­low­ing the merger of Kil­marnock Col­lege, Ayr Col­lege and the Kil­win­ning cam­pus of James Watt Col­lege – means the area has a dy­namic new fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion.

There is plenty to do in the area, whether you are in­ter­ested in his­tory, out­door pur­suits or shop­ping.

There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for walk­ing, fish­ing and sail­ing around the Ayr­shire coast, while the area is rich in golf cour­ses and more fam­i­lyfriendly pur­suits such as ponytrekking and cycling.

There are nu­mer­ous sites re­lated to Robert Burns dot­ted around Ayr­shire, such as the Bach­e­lors’ Club in Tar­bolton, Glas­gow Ven­nel in Irvine and the Burns House Mu­seum in Mauch­line.

The Burns National Her­itage Park in Al­loway is a col­lec­tion of key Burns-re­lated sites in­clud­ing the birth­place of the Bard, Burns Cot­tage.

Nearby is the Auld Kirk of Al­loway, where Burns’ fa­ther is buried, and the Brig O’Doon, over which Tam and his horse Meg es­cape in the fa­mous poem Tam O’Shanter.

There is more to the his­tory and her­itage of Ayr­shire than Burns, of course, with an­cient cas­tles and stun­ning coun­try parks and gar­dens to ex­plore.

Re­tail lovers are spoilt for choice. Ayr of­fers a mix of shop­ping malls and high street names, while a stroll around Troon, Largs and Prest­wick can un­earth some fan­tas­tic one-offs. Con­tem­po­rary home­wares, art gal­leries and quirky gift shops rub shoul­ders with de­signer out­lets and big­name brands.

In­vest­ment and re­gen­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to boost town cen­tres such as Kil­marnock, Ar­drossan, Salt­coats and Steven­ston, while there is a great range of fac­tory out­lets scat­tered across the re­gion in­clud­ing the chance to snap up good deals on lace, in Newmilns and Darvel, knitwear in Gal­ston and Cum­nock and crys­tal in Mauch­line.

There is an ex­cit­ing restau­rant and nightlife scene in Ayr­shire, cov­er­ing top class ho­tels of­fer­ing fine din­ing, tra­di­tional cafés, con­tem­po­rary bistros and friendly pubs.

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