As you travel in Ayrshire you are following in the steps of many famous people and in this tour, you will visit the locations connected with four of the county’s most illustrious.
THE POET – Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) – Also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotlands Maker and the Ploughman Poet. Rabbie’s popularity came through his poetry at the age of 27 and started when as a boy he loved the stories of the supernatural. His most famous song is Auld Lang Syne and is sang at New Year all over the world.
Images on this page Reproduced by kind permission of The National Trust for Scotland Photo Library
First stop is the village of Alloway which is from the Kylestrome is under two miles. Here Scotland’s most famous son was born and spent his boyhood years. First stop is Burns Cottage where Robert came into the world in 1759. The cottage is a must visit as you will see where the young Burns played and was educated. The cottage is typical of the type that people lived in, you will marvel at the small cramped spaces and low ceilings.
Leave the car in the Car Park and take the short walk along Poets Path, stop along the way to see the figures which depict some of Burn’s more famous poems. Soon you will reach the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. This fine building is comparatively a modern addition to the various sites connected to the Poet. You can self-guide yourself around the Museum where you will familiarize yourself with the life, poetry and genius of the man. The Museum not only covers Burns and his life but much else of the area’s history, folklore and traditions.
When in 1945 the Marquess of Ailsa gave Culzean Castle and its beautiful terraced gardens to the National Trust for Scotland he asked, and it was granted that part of the Castle be gifted to the then General Eisenhower.
The background to the gift was that Eisenhower had been the commander of allied forces in the war against the Nazi’s for Europe. General Eisenhower eight years later would become President and he enjoyed Culzean and said that it was a place he could truly relax.
We leave Alloway and the Museum behind and drive down the coast road with its beautiful views over to the Isle of Arran soon we reach Culzean Castle. The castle was the home of the Marquis of Ailsa who is the Chief of Clan Kennedy and has been the setting for many Film & TV appearances. https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/culzean
Start at the Café in the Clocktower Courtyard and have a cup of tea or coffee and a scone wander over to the shop and catch up on your souvenir buying. Next must visit is Coach House Gallery which forms part of the Carrick Art Trail. The Gallery shows the work of three local artists – why not buy the ultimate souvenir by taking home a painting https://artistsatculzean.wixsite.com/mysite
Take the short walk to the Castle and be enthralled as you enter the hallway and see the greatest display of military pistols in the world. Walk up the oval staircase with its many oil paintings and then unique “round” drawing room with a panorama over the Firth of Clyde. What a grand idea having a round drawing room – why did others not think of it. There are guides on every level who will be happy to tell you the history, folklore and also about the previous owners. Have a look at the paintings and the artistic licence that the Earl allowed the artist. The Castle has been made larger and Ailsa Craig moved so that it can be in view!! The reason behind the command is that the paintings were to be displayed in the Earl’s London residence and would make a more favourable impression if they were painted to show the Castle bigger and the panorama to include Ailsa Craig!!
After your Castle Tour take time to walk down the stairs to see the beauty of the Walled Gardens. Dating back to 1752 the Gardens have been added to over the centuries. Walk around the borders bursting with colour, see the stone grotto and fruit filled glasshouses and take time to let your imagination take you back in time to an age far away when great minds, skilful craftsmen and men and women were determined to leave this legacy of magnificence such as you have had the privilege of being part of today.
Charles The Prince of Wales is the heir apparent to the British Throne and has strong connections to Scotland and Ayrshire. Charles was educated in Gordonstoun School, he is often in Scotland carrying out official duties and also for relaxation at Balmoral. Ayrshire’s strongest connection is Dumfries House located near Cumnock.
Dumfries House was designed on Palladian architectural lines and dates back to mid eighteen century. The House has specially commissioned Chippendale furniture and was saved from being broken up by the intervention of Prince Charles in 2007. Choose from a House, Grand, Art or Chippendale Tour and you will be impressed with the beauty of what is regarded to be one of Britain’s finest stately homes.
Take time after your tour to stop by the Coach House Café for a wee cup of tea and a Dumfries House scone! After your pit stop take one of the designated woodland walks around the Estate and see the restored Arboretum and Walled Garden.