Status: South Ayrshire Council Area, Town, Scotland
Travel: Scotrail (Gretna Green – Kilmarnock), Scotrail (Kilmarnock – Ayr)
Eating & Sleeping: Costa Coffee
Attractions: Beach, Town Hall, Tourist Information, Statues, Courts, Wallace Tower, Robert Burns Statue, River Ayr, Cathedral etc
Similar to our trip to the city of Perth, also in Scotland, you could walk along the railway bridge on a footpath that was separated from the line by a fence. This was the same here and walked along the railway bridge we had come in on, over the River Ayr. It provided a great view down through the town with the tower of the Town Hall visible in the distance. The river itself empties out into the sea further along. This was with a lower water level and when we returned later it had risen and covered up the small islands that the gulls were sat on.
The main shopping centre in the town is an open one, as in it is not just one massive building its a selection of buildings that is pedestrianised and called as a shopping centre. It is called the Ayr Central Shopping Centre, and inside we found two interesting statues, looking at each other across a circular metal bench. The figure is of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish Poet (1759 – 1796), who was actually born only 3 miles away from the town and is known as the Bard of Ayrshire. There is another statue on a plinth elsewhere in the town. He is looking across at a dog in this sculpture but I am not sure of the significance of the dog.
After stumbling across the shopping centre, we made our way down the main street, which is a typical Scottish street with old buildings and an impressive tower at the end. The tower is the Wallace Tower, a memorial to William Wallace, who died in 1305 and was a famous Scottish War Leader during the Scottish Wars of Independence. The tower was built in 1832, in the place of an earlier building that had the same name.
The Town Hall has an equally impressive tower with a spire on top, and was constructed all the way back in 1828, before being enlarged in 1881. With the clock tower and the spire included it stands at an overall height of 226 feet. It can be seen easily from the river and is the stand out building in the town centre.
Past the beach, further down the sea front you can come back into the town, and pass the Crown Court building, which has a War Memorial in front of it facing the sea, and there is a main square on the other side of the building which contains various statues, including that of Sir James Fergusson, the 6th Baronet of Kilkerran (1832 – 1907). It is a beautiful square and we had a good time exploring it to find out who the memorials and statues were of, so see who you can find.
As Ayr is a seaside town one of the most obvious landmarks is the beach, with views over to the Isle of Arran. It is a long sea front with attractions further down and a pier at the opposite end.
Back into the town, Ayr has a Cathedral but it is only quite a small one and it took us a short walk to find it, and it was shut at the time but its a small church sized building, still quite interesting architecturally. From here we headed back over a bridge over the river to near the shopping centre and back round to the station.
The train line passed Prestwick International Airport on the way, and we had to change at Kilmarnock to get back to Gretna. Ayr is connected by rail to Kilmarnock and Glasgow Central as well as to the port of Stranraer. Prestwick is a local Airport with international destinations and the A70 and A77 main roads converge on the town.
Ayr is a lovely seaside resort, and although the weather wasn’t great the day we went, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.