Sporting enthusiasts have no shortage of options when visiting Ayrshire and Arran. You can try your hand at everything from golf to hiking and sailing to cycling.
Ayrshire is renowned for its world-class golf courses, including Trump Turnberry, The Royal Troon, Rowallan and Prestwick Golf Club. The historic Turnberry resort is home to several challenging courses and, as well as being the number one golfing destination in the UK, is frequently named as one of the best in the world. With stunning views of the coast, the castle and the famous lighthouse, even amateur putters will find it hard to resist.
If golf is not your bag, the Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock offers a full games compendium. There’s swimming, ice skating, bowling, badminton, squash, tennis, trampolining, basketball, circuit training and, of course, football. For those keen to make the most of the unspoiled coastline, there are myriad opportunities to enjoy watersports in Ayrshire.
From kayaking to kitesurfing and yachting to windsurfing, Ayrshire has firmly established itself as one of Scotland’s premier watersports destinations. The TRYkitesurfing school at based at Barassie Beach in Troon is Scotland’s longest established training centre and here students of all ages are taught the basics of kitesurfing in a safe and controlled environment.
A short hop across the water from Largs, the tiny island of Great Cumbrae is home to Sportscotland’s National Centre Cumbrae, making it a haven for enthusiasts of all water-based activities. Kayaks are also available for rent on the island, allowing visitors to explore the coastline at a leisurely pace. You may even be lucky enough to spot some sunbathing seals and showboating seabirds.
With several national and local cycle networks traversing the region, Ayrshire is the perfect place to explore by bicycle. A beautiful blend of coastline, countryside and rolling hills means choosing two wheels is always going to be rewarding. Rugged, mountainous and challenging, Arran has long been a favourite destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with just about every sporting pursuit available.
One of most popular is hiking, with dozens of routes to ramble, ranging in length and duration. The island’s highest peak, Goatfell, is the jewel in the crown when it comes to hikes, attracting thousands of walkers, hikers and climbers annually. Taking anywhere from four to six hours to the summit, the 874-metre Corbett can be challenging, depending on the route taken, so planning is essential. For those whole prefer their hikes long distance, The Arran Coastal Way is a 109km route that circumnavigates the island, showcasing the best Arran has to offer. It can be completed in as little as week, depending on your pace and ability.
As well as some leisurely cycle routes for all abilities, Arran is a mecca for adrenaline junkies who love the thrill of mountain biking. There are several off-road routes on the island that are suitable for even novices and a select few that will challenge even the most experienced, technical riders. Arran Bike Hire on Brodick have bikes to suit all of the island’s terrains – they even have electric bikes for a more leisurely ride – and the staff are happy to advise on the best routes.
For those who like their outdoor pursuits to be on the unusual side, Arran Adventure based at Auchrannie offers activities such as archery and gorge walking – an exhilarating mix of climbing and swimming up-river, before slipping, sliding and splashing your way down again via waterfalls and natural rockpools. With so much on offer, a trip to Ayrshire and Arran is guaranteed to satisfy your sporting side.
Everything you need to know about Ayrshire and Arran
The best things to do in Ayrshire and Arran
Where to eat in Ayrshire and Arran
The best shopping in Ayrshire and Arran
The best nightlife Ayrshire and Arran
Your guide to arts and culture in Ayrshire and Arran