Ayr is a busy seaside town in Strathclyde, overlooking the Firth of Clyde.
Even though it boasts several miles of excellent sandy beaches and a very attractive fishing harbour, it is the town's association with Robert Burns that makes it one of Scotland's most popular seaside resorts. A statue of Scotland's national poet stands near the town station, looking back towards the suburb of Alloway, where he was born.
There are two famous bridges crossing the River Ayr. The Auld Brig (Old Bridge) which dates from the 13th-c, and is now only open to foot traffic. The second bridge, aptly named 'New Bridge', is a modern replacement of an earlier crossing erected in 1788. Burns mentions the bridges in his poem "The Brigs of Ayr" were he terms the Auld Brig as 'a poor narrow footpath of a street where two wheelbarrows tremble when they meet'
Ayr is a traditional seaside town with soft sandy beaches, a spacious promenade, plenty of hotel accommodation and traditional seafront amusements.
The town centre has some good shopping facilities and there are are many fine parks and gardens in the town. Ayr is also host to one of the finest racecourses in Britain, home to the Gold Cup Festivals and Scottish Grand National.
There are a number of fine historic buildings in the town. The neo-Classical Town Hall is noted for its fine 126 ft high steeple, which dominates the town centre. The 16th-c Loudoun Hall, near the river is an early example of a Scottish burgh. A 12th-c tower, the only remaining section of the original Church of St John destroyed during the Civil War, overlooks the town harbour.
The Scottish patriot William Wallace is said to have set fire to a barn in the town in 1297; killing some 500 English soldiers during the English occupation. The neo-Gothic Wallace Tower, which incorporates Wallace's statue, was erected in 1832, over the place of his incarceration for this crime.
Scotland's national bard was born in 1759 in Alloway (a southern suburb of Ayr). Alloway is well signposted from the centre of Ayr, where there are many reminders of this famous poet. The River Doon gracefully winds through the town and the 'Auld Brig 0' Doon', a 13th-century bridge, spans the river flanked by gardens and tree-lined walks. Near to the bridge is the cottage where Burns was born. The history of his life and work is presented in the adjacent Burns Museum. The ruins of 'me kirk', nearby, is where Burns's father is buried.
The countryside around Ayr is also closely associated with Burns. Further associations can be found 60 miles south in Dumfries, where he lived, worked and died in 1796.
The Auld Kirk, where Burns was christened, dates from 1654. It was commissioned by Oliver Cromwell as recompense for the requisition of the original Church, which was incorporated it into a defensive citadel during the Civil War. Part of the Citadel wall is still visible nearby. The church has three galleries known as the 'Sailors', 'Traders' and 'Merchants' lofts. A tombstone located in the churchyard commemorates the Covenanting Martyrs.
Small cob and thatch cottage (or auld clay biggin), where Bums lived for several years. It contains period furnishings and domestic implements from Burns' era. Next to the cottage is the Burns Museum, which displays several of Burn's original manuscripts, books and paintings.
Lone Alloway KA7 4PQ - Tel: 01292 443 700
Built in 1534 the hall is one of Ayr's oldest buildings. It was originally built as dwelling for the hereditary Sheriffs of Ayrshire. It still remains much as it did in the 16th-c. Open to the public each summer.
Location: 1 Boat Vennal, Ayr, KA7 1HR - Tel: 01292 611290
This old thatched inn still stands in the High Street. It was a public house for many years, and is the starting place of Tam 0' Shanter's famous ride to Kirkoswald, as told in Burns's poem. The journey is celebrated every year with the commemorative 'Burns Ride', which follows Tam's route, ending at the Auld Brig O'Doon, in Alloway.
Location: 230 High Street, Ayr, KA7 1RQ - Tel: 01292 611684
Campbeltown, Dunoon, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Oban, Tobermory, Ayr, Cumnock, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Troon, Alexandria, Clydebank, Cumbernauld, Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Kirkintilloch, Gourock, Greenock, Inverkip, Kilmacolm, Glasgow, Lanark, Barrhead, Greenock, Johnstone, Kilmalcolm, Paisley, Renfrew