This second section covers Ayrshire, the isle of Arran, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire.




Below is a download map of the area; showing the route and title sponsors.
Click here to download this file

KILMARNOCK

It was near Eaglesham that Rudolf Hess actually landed.
The village was the first in Scotland to be listed in 1960 having originally been laid out by the 12th Earl of Eglington in 1796.
It consists of two rows of cottages set far apart with a burn, meadow and trees in between. More rows were planned but never built. These once housed weavers [some 400 worked in the area] but this ended with the coming of power and the hand-looms became redundant.

Power generation of a renewable green variety can now be found up on Eaglesham Moor, here some 215 turbines create enough power for over three hundred thousand homes, and this is the largest windfarm in Western Europe.
Set amid a twenty five kilometre site, it is also one of the largest habitat managed areas in the country and offers 130kms of trails and is home to lots of wildlife including rare birds such as Merlin and Black Grouse.

It has a visitor centre that even features a shower and cycle store.
Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre has fast become a very popular venue for many outdoor activities being just twenty minutes from Glasgow and offers free entry, an interactive exhibition, café, shop, learning Hub and is managed by the Glasgow Science Centre.
www.whiteleewindfarm.co.uk

Kilmarnock has strong connections with Burn’s as the first edition of his works was printed here and is known as the ‘Kilmarnock edition’, his intention was to raise enough money to emigrate to Jamaica, but the success of the book persuaded him to stay.

Sir James Shaw was born here and was the first Scottish Lord Mayor of London. Another local was Johnny Walker, a grocer on King Street who started to blend whisky in 1820 - which went onto to become one of the World’s most famous brands.
Sinforiani Bros of Kilmarnock are based at West George Street and are malt whisky and miniature specialists with over 300 whiskies in stock including some rare malts.
They also offer specialist spirits and liqueurs, alongside a range of exclusive wines – not found elsewhere.
As a specialist tobacconist here you will find fine hand-made cigars, pipes and exclusive tobaccos.
Additionally Sinforiani celebrate their Italian heritage with genuine Italian pasta and the world’s best pulped tinned tomatoes - all served with friendly personal service.
www.whiskiesandmaltsayrshire.co.uk


TROON, AYR & ALLOWAY


Dundonald Castle sits atop a 100ft hill some six miles inland from Troon.
It was built for Robert 2nd around 1371 upon his accession to the throne and he and subsequently his son Robert 3rd both lived and died here.
Indeed the castle is known as the ‘cradle of the Stewart dynasty’ that went on to rule Scotland and later Great Britain for three hundred and fifty years.
In the care of Historic Scotland the castle is run by the Friends of Dundonald Castle who operate a visitor centre here with a gift and coffee shop.
www.dundonaldcastle.org.uk
The name Dundonald is also given to a small village it overlooks and an ancient legend tells of Donald who went to London to seek his fortune, returning with nothing, he then found a pot of gold hidden in his cabbage patch, and set about building a castle.
Troon, has hosted the British Golf Open no less than eight times.

Ayr itself dates from the early 13th century, some argument exists as to the exact date, but a charter by King William the Lion is in the safe custody of the council.
In 1297 it was in the hands of the English and William Wallace is said to have set fire to a barn with five hundred soldiers inside.
St John’s Tower held a meeting of the Scottish Parliament a few years later in 1315 after Bannockburn with Robert the Bruce in Attendance.
Interestingly John Knox’s daughter was married to the minister at St John’s a few hundred years later.
The Auld Brig of Ayr is old and certainly dates from the reign of James 1V when
stonemasons where mentioned in the accounts of the exchequer.
Loudoun Hall also dates from this period, once a town house of the Sheriff of Ayrshire.

The town has some fine Georgian and Regency buildings but is in the main a typical
modern busy retail and commercial centre serving Ayrshire.
It does however enjoy miles of golden sand with safe bathing and paddling; which is Ayr’s real treasure.
Still busy in the summer with day trippers from the central belt and these days with increasing numbers of low cost airlines landing at Prestwick, many European visitors are discovering the town.
In the town centre is the Wallace Tower, however this is a Victorian gothic fake, which replaced the earlier tower mentioned by Burns.


A few miles out of town is Alloway and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum consists of the original thatched cottage the poet lived in as a child, an award winning exhibition which houses the world’s best collection of Burn’s artefacts and original work, the Burns Monument and famous Brig o’ Doon.
It offers parking, a shop, restaurant and indoor and outdoor play areas.
www.burnsmuseum.org.uk

www.nts.org.uk


SOUTH AYRSHIRE

Ayrshire is the birthplace of some other well known folk - John McAdam, the road- builder and inventor of the road making process – Tarmacadam, as well as Sir Alexander Fleming who discovered Penicillin.

The famous ‘Electric Brae’ is caused by the configuration of the land on either side of the road at Danure which creates an optical illusion making it look as if it is going down hill, when it is going up.


Nearby is Culzean Castle - the final masterpiece of Robert Adam built in the 1770s in a spectacular cliff top site overlooking the sea and set amid a 565 acre estate.
The castle itself boasts an oval staircase, armoury and round drawing room.
It offers a country park, walled garden, licensed restaurant, shop, picnic areas, whilst self-catering and holiday accommodation is also available in the castle and former servants quarters.
www.nts.org.uk


Continue down the coast passing the iconic Turnberry Golf Resort – four times host to the British Open.
The next town is Girvan - the main centre for Carrick.
At Knockcushion Street is the site of a Pictish fort which was used as a seat of justice. King Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick, held court here and granted a charter to the friars of Ayr in 1328.
Robert the Bruce was the 4th Earl of Carrick, a title which even today, is one of the many currently awarded to Prince Charles.
A favourite holiday destination between the wars, Girvan still boasts a delightful, busy working harbour that also offers a safe haven for leisure craft.
Noble’s boatyard is the only surviving working boatyard in the West of Scotland south of Oban.

Located just two miles out of Girvan is the Woodland Bay Hotel.
In an amazing coastal position, with far reaching views of Ailsa Craig, Arran and on a clear day the distant hills of Ireland.
It offers sixteen luxury bedrooms with en-suite wet rooms. The Woodland Bay hotel also has a lounge bar, function room and the Bealah’s restaurant.
It has ample free on-site parking and wi-fi.
A converted farm steading it is owned and run by a local farming family.
www.woodlandbayhotel.co.uk

Ailsa Craig - a volcanic core which at over 1000ft high looms out of the water - complete with its amazing Gannet colony of some 70.000 birds and a former quarry for the famous granite curling stones; it is now an RSPB reserve.
It has been written about by both Keats and Wordsworth but only mentioned by Burns in an ironic aside.
It is also known as ‘Paddy’s Milestone’ owing to its position en-route to Ireland.

Five miles south of Girvan is Levalfoot, this was home to the cannibal Sawney Bean and his family.



EAST AYRSHIRE

We head in land to Straiton - a charming conservation village on the edge of hill country on the Girvan Water. The land hereabouts is fertile and well farmed, but a mere three miles way it gives way to bleak moorland, now mostly taken over by forestry.
The Buck is located on the pretty main street and offers excellent coffee, home-made soups, snacks, fresh baking and mouth-watering cakes and local arts and crafts.

The village has a notable old parish church parts of which are pre-reformation, the nearby castle and estate of Blairquhan was at one time the seat of Sir David Hunter Blair who in the 1890’s was the only ever baronet to also be the Abbot of a religious house in Scotland as the Lord Abbot of Fort Augustus, as the order of baronets was not formed until after the reformation.
The castle was featured in the film ‘ The Queen’ starring Dame Helen Mirren, however the Hunter Blair family sold the castle and estate in November 2012.
The village also was a setting in the film ‘Match’.

Travel over the open hill to Dalmellington and then continue across more hills to Cumnock.
Cumnock a former mining town was the birthplace of Keir Hardie - the father of Scottish Socialism, and at one time the production of snuff boxes was a major industry.

www.dumfries-house.org.uk
On the outskirts of the town is Dumfries House - built between 1754 & 59 for the 5th Earl of Dumfries by the Adam brothers and has remained virtually unchanged for some 250 years.
It contains furniture by Thomas Chippendale as well as leading Scottish cabinet makers of the period.
Saved by the intervention of HRH the Prince of Wales in 2007 who headed a consortium of charities under his title Great Steward of Scotland.
The grounds are open from dawn till dusk daily, whilst the house is also open for guided tours.

It also offers the coach house café, library restaurant and shop as well as Woodlands restaurant located beside the original estate sawmill.
Accommodation is even available in a luxury guest house on the estate – Dumfries House Lodge.
A new eco village of Knockroon is being built on the edge of the 2000 acre estate with a visitor centre and show houses.

Another big house nearby is Auchinleck [ pronounced Affleck ]– formerly the family home of the diarist James Bothwell.

Cumnock Factory Outlet opened in the Easter of 2013 and is a custom designed 20,000 sq ft shopping outlet housing many top brands at outlet prices.
It features Ladieswear, Menswear, Homeware as well as Gifts and Accessories alongside an open plan coffee shop, serving home baking and great coffee.
On the site of a former shoe factory it has plenty of free parking.
www.cumnockfactoryoutlet.co.uk



ARDROSSAN

We travel back to the coast and Ardrossan.
We pass the ruins of Eglington Castle, now a country park. Here in the early 19th century the Eglington Tournament was hosted, an extravagant romantic revival with knights in armour and jousting.
The Earl of Atholl re-formed his regiment for the event – which went onto become the only private army in the U.K. - based at Blair Castle, Perthshire.
This was home to the Montgomrie Earls of Eglington who also laid out Ardrossan during the same period in 1805. But it was many years later with the advent of steam and the railway that saw the boom days arrive.
The harbour has now been developed as a yacht anchorage surrounded by new luxury waterside flats.

The ferry from Ardrossan reaches Brodick on Arran is just under an hour.
Operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, also known as CalMac – the iconic ferry company.
This award winning company operates ferry services across the west coast of Scotland with crossings ranging from just 5 minutes to over 5 hours, from Arran in the south to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in the north, looking after the needs of the islanders, visitors, and tourists and carrying millions of passengers each year.

www.calmac.co.uk

Calmac has been voted Public Transport Operator of the Year many times and with 28 vessels and 26 routes to stunning and varied destinations, this is a great way to experience the best of the west coast of Scotland.
On board you can expect a range of facilities including shops and cafes with freshly prepared food using local produce and great views from inside and outside seating and viewing areas.
Ferry services are available to foot passengers and those travelling with vehicles including motorhomes and motorbikes. Children under 5 travel free. Bicycles and kayaks as well as dogs are carried free and on most vessels there are special seating areas for owners to sit with their dogs.
For many destinations local train and bus services link into the CalMac ferry timetable.

Other options are also available for those with more time to travel further.
These include day tours, whisky tours, wildlife watching, lunch cruises, self drive tours, walking and golf itineraries and much more.
Island Hopping and Island Rover tickets are also available. Visit 2, 3, 4 or more islands on an Island Hopscotch ticket. Island Rover tickets allow unlimited travel for 8 or 15 consecutive days and freedom to explore at leisure. For more details visit the website.

Enjoy great wildlife experiences during your ferry crossing as well as on the island destinations including Golden Eagles, Red Deer, Minke and Orca Whales, Basking Sharks, Porpoises and much more.

CalMac Ferries to the Islands of Bute and Cumbrae leave from departure points we visit further up the coastline.


ISLE OF ARRAN - BRODICK


The ferry arrives in the broad bay of Brodick, this gives the town its name; ‘breada-vick’, being Norse for broad bay; it takes little imagination to visualise the longboats moored here, and it is interesting to think that the aspect of Goat Fell and the hills to the north would have appeared to the Vikings very much as they do today.
Brodick has been a popular resort for many years; it seems to have everything, a sandy bay, the main ferry terminal for the island, the largest selection of shops and many hotels and eating places.
A short distance from the pier – 450 yards – is the Carrick Lodge, a former Manse and now a Bed and Breakfast.
An attractive detached red sandstone building; complete with tower and crow step gables. Interestingly, the reason a manse tends to be such a substantial building is due to the tradition that the minister would offer overnight accommodation for those visiting the area, so this fine building has been looking after the needs of travellers for many a generation.

www.carricklodge.co.uk
However these days it offers six very comfortable en-suite rooms, a guest lounge and dining room. It also features free Wi-Fi, off road parking and a large mature garden that enjoys an elevated position with sea views across the bay.

The Byre at Brodick is located on Shore Road; a sister business of the Old Byre Showroom at Machrie and offers a tasteful selection of the clothing and accessories to be found at the larger outlet.
www.oldbyre.co.uk
A short distance along at Invercloy is Eilean Mor Bar and Bistro, with great views over the Bay from the bay windows. It is open for all day and offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. A great example of Italian Scottish fusion - the signature dish is Haggis Ravioli. It offers Italian coffee and lager, as well as the local Arran Brewery bottled beer, it even has a popular cocktail menu.
www.eileanmorarran.com

www.wooleys.co.uk
Wooleys of Arran is the islands bakery, and has recently opened another outlet at Lamlash. The business has been in the ownership of the Lindsay family since the 1980’s and originally started on the island in the mid 19th century.
Wooleys is famous as the home of Arran Oatcakes, The range has been extended to include both original and wheat bran oatcakes as well as oaties also available in original as well as bran & cheese. They all can be purchased at the shop in boxed sets and can also be found in many quality food outlets on the island and mainland.
The bakery is also the place for pies, bridies, sandwiches, rolls and mouth-watering cakes – everything you need for a picnic lunch.

Also located on Shore Road is the other outlet of Jolly Molly – a sister shop to the Glasgow store. Packed with delightful and quirky products for both the home as well as thoughtful personal gifts. The home accessories include kitchen-ware, ceramics, lighting and much else, - whilst the personal range features jewellery, scarves, bags, purses as well as gifts for men and a range of Jolly Juniors designed for the wee ones.
www.jollymolly.co.uk

A short distance on and dating from the 1850’s is the Ormidale hotel, a fine Victorian house set in 7 acres, with 7 en-suite rooms, its lively bar, serving real ales is featured in the good beer guide and Camra.
The hotel also has an excellent reputation for bar meals, popular with locals and visitors alike and has been owned and run by the same local family for over seventy-five years.
www.ormidale-hotel.co.uk


Brodick Castle overlooks the bay and town and was formerly the home of the Dukes of Hamilton, it sits below Goat Fell within the wooded lower slopes in a wonderful setting.
The castle has an impressive collection of sporting pictures, trophies and fine 17th century furniture and also features a tearoom and shop.
The gardens and country park feature an internationally acclaimed rhododendron collection and many way-marked trials, waterfalls and wildlife ponds and picnic areas.

www.nts.org.uk

ISLE OF ARRAN NORTH - LOCHRANZA & CATACOL

The road takes you over the hills to Lochranza. This settlement historically related more to Kintyre than the rest of the island, due to its isolated location.
You may be pleased to hear that Arran has no Grey Squirrels only red ones.

The golf course is famous for the rare sight of red deer stags - which happily graze and generally wonder around the fairways and greens – a most unusual obstacle and you wonder how the Royal and Ancient deal with this in the stringent rules of the game?
The stags have given their name to the ‘Stags Pavilion’ tearoom and restaurant.
Formerly the golf club house it was built between the two wars and was used a base for commandoes during the Second World War.
This traditional tearoom and continental family restaurant specialises in local seafood and island produce with an international twist and is located at the entrance to the Golf Club and across the road from the Distillery.
www.stagspavilion.com

The romantic castle sits next to the sea on a grassy peninsula which stretches half way across the Sea Loch forming an inner harbour.
This was featured in ‘The Lord of the Isles’ by Sir Walter Scott, and was formerly a hunting Lodge for the Stewart Kings. It is also said to have been the model for Tintin’s adventure ‘The Black Island’.
It was here that H.M.S. Brittania moored on the first night of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s honeymoon.
The Sandwich Station at the CalMac pier - offers a mouth-watering selection of home-made cakes, hearty soups made fresh daily and hand cut sandwiches and rolls, all using local island produce.
It also offers yacht and outside catering and has bike hire available as well as being a small gift shop and delicatessen.
www.thesandwichstation.com
A smaller CalMac ferry leaves Lochranza and plies across the Kilbrannan Sound to Kintyre.

www.calmac.co.uk
Highland Mary – Burn’s sweetheart was in the service of the local minister for a while here at Lochranza.

A little out of the village are a row of cottages at Catacol built by the 11th Duke of Hamilton and completed in the 1860’s are known as ‘The twelve apostles’ built to house families of fisherfolk displaced by the clearances and for a time known as ‘hungry row’. Interestingly each cottage has a different shaped upstairs window allowing the wives of the fisherman to send signals by candle-light across the sea.
The clearances on Arran displaced people for deer, not sheep as elsewhere in Scotland, if however a rare white deer was seen, it was said to signal a death in the Hamilton dynasty.

www.catacol.co.uk
The Catacol Bay Hotel is a small friendly fully licensed hotel that has been family owned and run for the last thirty years and offers a comfortable public bar serving a couple of real ales and excellent home-made bar meals, the Sunday buffet being a popular highlight.
It also has a beer garden and children’s play area.
Accommodation is available in three family rooms, a double, twin and single.

ISLE OF ARRAN WEST - MACHRIE & BLACKWATERFOOT

Machrie Bay has a wide sandy beach, a pleasant walk by the south shore leads to King’s Cave; a reputed hiding place for Robert the Bruce, with earlier associations with Finn or Fingal, the hero of the Ossianic legend and poem. The caves also feature ancient rock carvings.
It is claimed that it was here that Robert the Bruce famously watched a spider try and try again to spin a web, inspiring him to persevere.

Other remarkable archaeological sites locally include the stone circle at Auchengallon and a series of circles on Machrie Moor.
About half a mile north of Machrie golf course look out for the sign leading up to the Old Byre Showroom.
Open seven days it showcases some beautiful clothing, with Barbour below RRP, Seasalt, hand knitted Aran sweaters and other quality knitwear, alongside bags and accessories.
Also on site is a children’s play area and café Thyme, which is fully licensed and serves delicious home-baking – including fresh bread and Turkish style pizza cooked in a unique wood-burning oven.
Delicious lunches and stunning views - also open some evenings for dinners and takeaways during the season.
www.oldbyre.co.uk

Visit Arran Ceramics - the gallery of skilled potter Simon Thorburn and see his range of functional stoneware pots, decorated in rich glazes reflecting the colours around the coast and hills of Arran. Also on display are the works of other crafters such as hand painted silks and tiles alongside handmade jewellery.
www.arranceramics.com


Blackwaterfoot is famous for being home to the only twelve hole golf course in the UK, a mecca for golfers, Shiskine overlooking the Kilbrannan sound and is rated as one of the countries top 100 courses.
It started life as nine holes in 1896 and was later extended into a conventional 18, but lost six holes during the Great War!
The Pro Shop is run by PGA professional Dougie Bell, who has previously coached in London, Holland and Norway. He offers lessons, repairs, club hire as well as buggies, powakaddies and a first class range of golfing accessories, clothing, drinks and ice-cream.
www.shiskinegolf.com
This links course adjoins a long wide sandy beach - a peaceful scene today but in the 1930’s this was a hive of activity: As the landing place for the famous Clyde puffers, with goods unloaded at low tide onto horse drawn wagons and weighed at the weigh house located where the car park is today.

The String Road was built in 1817 to the plans of none other that Thomas Telford. The first motor bus came to the island in 1913, it was commandeered a year or so later as part of the war effort, however the arrival of other motorised transport saw the decline of Blackwaterfoot as a port and goods came via Brodick.

www.blackwaterfoot-lodge.co.uk
Blackwaterfoot Lodge, named after the village, is a detached Victorian building offering Bed and Breakfast, with the unusual addition of a lounge bar - perhaps a little ironic considering it was built originally as a temperance hotel!
Another unusual and welcome feature is an adjoining two bedroom self-catering cottage. This licensed B&B is a great place to be based as you discover the windswept west coast of the island, acknowledged as the most picturesque and wildest part of Arran.

Cairnhouse Riding Centre is the only BHS and TRSS approved centre on Arran and is open all year and offers hacking and trekking – with one hour treks, and either one or two hour hacks available.
Riding along private farm tracks leading into the open hills - as well as the opportunity to trot along the local sandy beaches, with cantering an option for experienced riders.

www.cairnhousestables.com

ISLE OF ARRAN SOUTH – KILDONAN, WHITING BAY & LAMLASH

In the south legends of giants persist; Ossian’s mound at Clauchaig farm is reputed to be the burial place of Ossian; the poet son of Finn.
They even say Glen Scorradale is named after the giant Scorrie who lived in the glen long ago. A political giant, in Scottish terms at least; the former first minister Jack McConnell now Lord McConnel of Glenscorrodale, spent much of his childhood on a farm in glen, now a Buddhist retreat.

Shannochie Cottages are three self- catering holiday cottages in an elevated position on the southern tip of the island.
Barnstable & Eryb command stunning views over both Ayrshire and Kintyre, whilst Kilbride cottage - a little gem -makes you feel at home with its open fire.

www.shannochiearran.co.uk

The nearby manse at Kilmory lays claim to being the oldest inhabited one in the country.

Continue to Kildonan, where seals bob up and down spying on the coming and going with what seems like a keen interest.
The setting is spectacular with the most amazing views over the water to Pladda and in the middle distance Ailsa Craig, with the distant hills of Galloway forest park as the final backcloth. To the west the shores of Kintyre are visible with on a clear day the distant shores of Ireland.
This rocky coastline has witnessed many shipwrecks, and until 1981 the coastguard for Arran was based hereabouts.
Kildonan is named after St Donan who arrived here with St Columba in the 6th century and is buried near Kildonan Farm where the foundations of an early chapel are said to lay.
Kildonan Castle; now a ruin, was a Royal residence until 1405, then bestowed to John
Stewart of Ardgowan, passing in the 17th century to the Hamilton family.
The islands of Bute and Arran once formed a separate Kingdom.
This was a twilight zone between Scotland and Norway until eventually Norway sold the island in 1266.
When Alexander the third came to power only one hundred of some seven hundred and fifty islands where under his control, in the next two centuries they all fell under the power of the Scottish King.


Arran is often called Scotland in miniature, indeed the Highland fault does pass through the middle of it, thus creating a Highland and Lowland division.
Firmly in the Lowland half is the next settlement Whiting Bay.
Which can trace its history back to pre-historic times, the so-called Giants grave bears witness to this, later Viking occupation is evidenced by the burial mound at King’s Cross.
It was from her that Robert the Bruce sailed to Ayrshire and onto his ultimate victory at Bannockburn.

An established Clydeside resort for over a century Whiting Bay is well versed in catering for visitors.

www.edenlodgehotel.co.uk
The Eden Lodge is one of a number of established hotels on the island, but has undergone a complete makeover and has a contemporary modern interior, which contrasts well with the fine Victorian features of this attractive building.
It offers excellent home-cooked food in the Bar Eden as well as a beer garden, is listed in the Good Beer and Camra guides and often has the local Arran Ale on tap.
Accommodation is available in a number of options from a king size with an en-suite Jacuzzi, to double and twin with en-suite shower to single and bunk rooms.


The nearby Holy isle can be reached by a small ferry from the pier at Lamlash.
This small island was acquired by a group of Tibetan Buddhists in 1992 and is today a centre of World Peace and Health.
It has been of religious significance for centuries; in the 6th century St Molaise lived in a hermits cave here and the island is officially designated as a UK Sacred Site.
This lofty isle protects the Bay at Lamlash, for it was here that King Haakon of Norway moored his armada before attacking Scotland, and his eventual defeat
at the battle of Largs, after which the battered remnants returned to the safety of these
waters before departing these shores forever.
The bay was also used for British Naval forces particularly just before the First World
War, when there was a fear of civil war in Ireland. In the Second World War Winston
Churchill visited. During this time the navy presented trophies to the golf club, still
played for today, the course has played host to many Royal visitors; Prince Albert, King Edward V111 and King George V1. Lamlash was also headquarters of the 11th Scottish Commandos.
In Lamlash just fifty yards from the shore is Tigh An Eilean, a sister business to Eilean Mor Bar & Bistro in Brodick. It offers recently converted and decorated en-suite rooms in either double, twin and triple options.
www.tighaneileanarran.co.uk

NORTH AYRSHIRE - SEAMILL, FAIRLIE & LARGS

Seamill Hydro - one of Ayrshire leading hotels situated on a spectacular stretch of coastline overlooking the Firth of Clyde and Arran.
Award winning, and the subject of a recent four million pound refurbishment, it offers a wide range of bedrooms and suites, leisure club and spa, with a heated pool, sauna, steam room and gymnasium.

As well as restaurants, bistro and bar, all offering a varied selection of Scottish and international flavours and enjoying outstanding views over more than one hundred square miles of land & sea.
Originally built in 1879 as a Sanatorium Hydro complete with its own spring and has been owned and operated for the last twenty-five years by the Sweeney family- who employ some 180 members of staff.

www.seamillhydro.co.uk

West Kilbride and Craft Town Scotland - which is Scotland’s only designated craft and design town.
It consists of nine working craft studios and the Barony Centre that opened in 2012, with a café, gift area and exhibition gallery.

www.crafttownscotland.org

This is an award winning adaptation of a listed church, with tasteful additions utilising the natural light, it sits at the heart of this townscape and along with the studios is seen as an example of good practice against the national tide of decline in our town centres.


The Village Inn at Fairlie is a very popular award winning family bar and restaurant, open for breakfasts, lunch and evening meals as well as offering home-made tray bakes and scones alongside tea and coffee - all day.

The Village Inn has won numerous Camra accolades for the real ales and pub grub and has ample parking and an outside beer garden.
Also available is the ‘Upper Deck’ holiday flat.

www.villageinnfairlie.co.uk


Kelburn Castle and Country Centre is on the 3,500 acre estate of the Earl of Glasgow with it’s centre-piece; Kelburn Castle, overlooking the Firth of Clyde and Isles of Cumbrae and Arran.
Some 1,500 acres are enclosed by a 7ft wall which includes Kelburn Glen; offering lovely walks and waterfalls, the secret forest- a complex of woodland paths, as well as an adventure course- with high walkways, rope swings and a 20ft high tower.
Whilst indoor activity is also an option at the playbarn, indeed Kelburn also has a licensed café offering home-cooked meals, drinks and snacks
The Country Centre also offers a ranger service with various activities throughout the year.
www.kelburnestate.com
Also on the estate is the Equestrian centre, which is one of the largest in the West of Scotland and offers lessons, paddock rides and hacks around the estate.
However the castle itself is one of the oldest inhabited castles in the country - to be lived in by same family. These days however it is best known for the amazing colourful Graffiti that covers the walls and turrets of it’s south side, created by a team of urban graffiti artists from Brazil.


The Town of Largs has for many years has served as a busy centre for day trippers from Greater Glasgow and is tightly hemmed in by a 1500ft escarpment to the East and the sea to the West.
Nicolson Maps are map publishers; a family business established for some thirty years - who provide the mapping used in our audio guides.
They draw and publish a range of maps, guides and street atlases as well as being licensed partners and distributors for Ordnance Survey.
The head office and shop is to be found at number three Fraser Street; with a full range of maps and other products on display.
www.nicolsonmaps.com


From Largs another CalMac ferry takes cars and passengers over to the Cumbrae Slip.

www.calmac.co.uk
Largs is sheltered by the Isle of Cumbrie, however in 1263 King Alexander 3rd on a stormy October day saw off the Viking fleet in the battle of Largs, which took place over 750 years ago and was a turning point in Scottish history.
The island name is actually derived from the Gaelic word for shelter.
The Isle of Cumbrae, for many is better known as Millport, which is the only town on this little island. During the late 18th century this settlement began and grew around the steamer service that started in 1833. The church built in 1851 by the Earl of Glasgow was to become the Cathedral of the Isles in 1876. Designed by William Buterfield and the smallest Cathedral in Europe.
Britain’s narrowest house is also to be seen here; only 47 inches wide.


INVERCLYDE

Wemyss Bay is another CalMac terminal serving the Isle of Bute.
www.calmac.co.uk
This was once part of Kelly Estate owned by the Bannatyne family, the castle being lost to fire in 1740, rebuilt and burnt down again in 1913 they say at the hand of suffragettes!
The station is a Grade A listed building and regarded as one of the finest railway buildings in the country.

www.clydemuirshiel.co.uk
Clyde Muirshiel was first conceived in the 1940’s but designated in 1990 and consists of over one hundred square miles of moorland, woodland and coastal countyside and is Scotland’s largest Regional Park.
Activities include walking, cycling, wildlife watching, camping, kayaking, sailing and even the opportunity to sail along the coast aboard the ocean going yacht the ‘Clyde Muirshiel Explorer’
It offers three Visitor Centres all with plenty of free parking:-
Greenock Cut Visitor Centre beside Loch Thom - is the starting point for one of the top fifty walks in the country.
From here you can explore miles of open moorland and the unusual narrow canals; designed by Robert Thom, an exhibition explains these, and The Centre has a Ranger service, gift shop and offers refreshments.


LOCHWINNOCH, BEITH, KILBARCHAN & ELDERSLIE


www.clydemuirshiel.co.uk
Castle Semple Visitor Centre is located in Lochwinnoch on the shores of the Semple Loch and offers a tearoom, outdoor activities and seasonal boat & bike hire.

www.clydemuirshiel.co.uk
Muirshiel Visitor Centre is based at an impressive former Victorian shooting estate at the top of Calder Glen Road outside Lochwinnoch.


We travel on to Beith, which was once a centre for the linen, woollen and silk industry, later replaced by furniture and the manufacture of gloves.
It has a memorial to Dr Henry Faulds who was the originator of the concept of forensic finger printing.

www.thetartancamper.com
Based here is The Tartan Camper Company who operate a fleet of six classic VW T25 and T4 camper vans to hire that are affordable and fun for families and couples alike!!
They are lovingly wrapped in tartan and maintained to the highest standard.. it’s the perfect way to travel around Scotland and the UK at your own pace.
The Tartan Camper Company offer airport transfers from Glasgow, Prestwick and even Edinburgh.



Gardner’s The Antique Shop is based at Wardend House on the edge of the village of Kilbarchan. This large traditional antique shop consists of eleven rooms and outbuildings, based around a detached farm house, laid out in the traditional square and courtyard fashion. Established in 1950 and family run, it offers a wide range of categories and prices including furniture, glass, silver, porcelain, clocks, paintings and even toys.
www.gardnersantiques.co.uk
Kilbarchan was once a place of early religious significance, it’s original church was bestowed by the High Steward of Scotland, and nearby Ranfurly castle was formerly seat of the Knox Family, from whom John Knox is descended.It later became a centre for weaving with some 100 hand looms in production – a typical cottage at the cross has been restored by the National Trust for Scotland. The steeple in the centre of Kilbarchan is distinctive with a statue of Habbie Simpson a renowned piper and local character.



The Fox and Hounds is one of the old coaching inns on the West Coast line and is home to the award winning Houston Brewery, it offers five of its own ales on draft and a viewing window in the bar enables visitors to see and find out more this award-winning brewery.
The beer can be purchased direct from here in bottles, mini casks and full casks.The Fox and Hounds offers home-made food that is available all day every day – during licensing hours, and was a recent finalist in the Pub of the Year awards – located in the pretty conservation village of Houston.

www.houston-brewing.co.uk

Nearby is Elderslie:- the reputed birthplace of William Wallace in 1270. Much debate exists between two locations here at Elderslie or Ellerslie in Ayrshire. Wallace’s father was Alan Wallace, a royal tenant in Ayrshire, according to the ‘Ragman’s roll of 1296.
However much was written by Blind Harry some eighty years after the death of Wallace, in favour of the Eldersliebirthplace, but his patron was Sir Thomas Wallace which may have influenced him.
A monument was built here in 1912 and in 1920 Robert Cunninghame Graham, co-founder of the Scottish Labour Party and the SNP said ‘ Wallace made Scotland, he is Scotland, the symbol of all that is best, purest and truest in our national life’.
Whilst more recently the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Braveheart’ re-opened this chapter of history to a new generation and with the referendum on Scottish Independence in 2014, this remains a topical and divisive political question after more than seven hundred years.