Visit Ayr and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Ayr, South Ayrshire. “An ancient city by an ancient sea” — these words are particularly applicable to Ayr. They rise unbidden in your mind whenever you think of this old town, the county town of Ayrshire situated on the Firth of Clyde, 35 miles from Glasgow.
Even although the townsfolk and the historians disagree on the precise date of its charter, their disagreement is limited to within a year or two in the 13th century, and no one really is much concerned whether that date is 1202, 1203, or even the extreme limit 1206. So it is ancient enough, and happily the original Charter of Erection by King William the Lion still lies safe in the custody of the Town Clerk. Other visible and tangible proofs of this antiquity are, however, sadly few.
There is, however, a fragment, and a handsome one, of the ancient church of St John the Baptist, dated by some as contemporary with the charter. Yet even here there are doubts, and the Tower of St John may well have been a latter-day addition to the original church buildings. What of the church itself? Oliver Cromwell's Model Army dealt with it in the traditional way when they requisitioned the area round it to build a citadel to overawe the remnant of the western Covenanters. Cromwell had built, in exchange, the present Auld Kirk of Ayr (1654), which is tucked away out of sight behind the modern buildings of the High Street.
The Auld Brig of Ayr on its present site probably dates back almost as far as the Church of St John, but it is not until the reign of James IV (1488—1513) that there is any proof that it was of stone. The Exchequer records of that time contain details of a gift of drink-silver to the masons at the “Brig of Air”, but whether they were builders or repairers we do not know.
Loudoun Hall, overlooking the harbour from the mouth of the Boat Vennel, traces its title deeds back to 1534 and in its heyday was the town house of the hereditary Sheriff of Ayrshire. In its old age it narrowly escaped demolition as a slum, which, of course, it had become, but it is now happily restored and is one of the town's cultural centres. These, then, are the only relicts of history that the impatience of bygone generations has failed to destroy: a tower, a bridge, a house, and a 17th-century church. A mere scattered handful of the past. It is true that parts of the walls of Cromwell's building still remain, probably because they were too tough to be destroyed, but these are alien to the town and even yet evoke no enthusiasm among the inhabitants; of other more modern buildings of note there are few. The neo-Gothic Wallace Tower in the High Street is an 1832 throw-back to a more ancient manner, and is remarkable only as a landmark. (This is not, of course, the Wallace Tower referred to by Burns, which was pulled down to make way for this piece of l9th-century romanticism.) On the other hand, the town buildings and steeple at the junction of High Street and Sandgate, while dating from about the same time, are handsome, and the steeple, a feature of so many last-century Lowland towns, is considered to be one of the best in Britain.
What the Ayr people are really proud of is their parks. Efficient local services of all kinds— good roads; wholesome water; clean, well-lit streets; a courteous local police force — are all taken for granted and without comment. But the parks are different. Ask an Ayr man about Belleisle or Craigie, and his face lights up.
Both were l8th-century estates, and on them has been lavished much care and expenditure since their acquisition by the town. Belleisle (“beautiful Belleisle”, they call it) lies to the South. It has the gracious charm of mansion-house and park-land and, in addition, flower gardens and conservatories of more than special merit. Craigie on the East has the attraction of long vistas, long walks, and a quiet river for a boundary. Both have magnificent woodlands. Then there are the bread-and-butter parks, the Old Racecourse, and the Low Green, each of eighty acres or more, and playing-fields in addition, enough to cater for an army of children.
But Ayr's treasure is the shore. There are literally miles of golden sand with safe bathing and paddling. This is what brings all the holiday-makers to the town, all the school excursions, Sunday school trips, bus parties and motorists. They start coming in early May and stop in late September; and for one thing only — the shore. It is a source of much joy; to the town-planners it is a source of much wonderment that even a modern child can be happy for so long without any artificial aids.
To omit horse-racing from the catalogue would be unforgivable. Ayr's racecourse is among the finest in Britain and caters well for the fraternity. Similarly with golf there are several good courses. There are plenty of public bowling greens and tennis courts, and even angling in the River Ayr. The keen fisher who does not mind moving about for his sport will find an admirable angling centre at Girvan, 20 miles away along the coast.
Nearby towns: Auchinleck, Cumnock, Girvan, Mauchline, Maybole, Prestwick, Troon
Nearby villages: Alloway, Annbank, Coylton, Crosshill, Dalmellington, Dalrymple, Doonfoot, Drongan, Drongan, Dundonald, Dunure, Galston, Gatehead, Hurlford, Kilkerran, Kirkmichael, Kirkoswald, Maidens, Monkton, Patna, Polnessan, Riccarton, Stair, Symington, Tarbolton, Trabboch, Turnberry
Have you decided to visit Ayr or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Ayr bed and breakfast (a Ayr B&B or Ayr b and b)
- a Ayr guesthouse
- a Ayr hotel (or motel)
- a Ayr self-catering establishment, or
- other Ayr accommodation