How to spend 48 hours in Ayrshire and Arran
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There are many reasons to visit Ayrshire and Arran, but here are the top 10.
With some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in Scotland, Ayrshire and Arran are always guaranteed to be scene-stealers. Imposing mountains, lush rolling hills, mysterious glens, endless sandy beaches, quaint villages and gorgeous sunsets make this region a paradise for landscape lovers.
The island of Ailsa Craig off the Ayrshire coast is a birdwatchers’ dream and home to a colony of more than 40,000 gannets, as well as guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. Red deer are abundant on Arran and during mating season, the clash of the rut is mesmerizing. And, of course, viewed from the vantage point of a seemingly endless coastline, seals, whales, dolphins and basking sharks all make regular appearances.
With romantic castles, stately homes, eldritch stone circles and even a cannibals’ cave, Ayrshire and Arran share a rich heritage that is steeped in legend and mythology. As the supposed birthplace of Robert the Bruce, Ayrshire has enjoyed an illustrious military past, even seeing off a Viking invasion. Arran boasts its own unique and fascinating history, with archaeological sites linked to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, Vikings and Gaels.
The Ayrshire village of Dalmellington is home to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. This is one of the best places in Europe to marvel at the stars and planets and watch spectacular meteor showers. With optimum conditions, both the Ayrshire Coast and Arran are known as hot spots for catching a glimpse of nature’s best light show, the Aurora Borealis, also known as The Northern Lights.
There is no shortage of delectable local produce for foodies in Ayrshire and Arran. Famous Ayrshire tatties (potatoes), succulent beef, pork and lamb, Dunlop Cheese, sensational seafood, Arran Whisky, craft ales, artisan chocolate and charcuterie… the region is a powerhouse in the production of some of the finest cuisine and fresh ingredients in the country.
This part of the west coast of Scotland is undeniably stunning but with such a close proximity to major cities, as well as some magical smaller islands, Ayrshire is also a hub for exploring some of Scotland’s top attractions. Want to drive from big city to remote coastline in under an hour? That’s not a problem in Ayrshire.
Ayrshire and Arran have more than their fair share of adventure with many adrenaline-pumping outdoor pursuits on offer. The list of recreational activities on offer is endless: cycling, kayaking, hiking, kitesurfing, swimming, sailing, geocaching, golfing, quad-biking, archery, horseriding, gorge walking… Ayrshire and Arran have something for everyone, no matter your age or fitness level.
Who needs the bustle of the city when Ayrshire and Arran boast such a vibrant and year-round social scene? From the galloping fun of the Ayr Races to the more sedate pace of book festivals, and from murder mystery weekends to major music events, the region offers visitors arts and culture highlights for every season.
For such a small area, Ayrshire and Arran have some notable exports to be proud of. National Bard Robert Burns, Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce, Nobel Peace Prize Winner John Boyd Orr, medical pioneer Sir Alexander Fleming, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, golfer Sam Torrance and rockers Biffy Clyro are just some of the famous faces who began their lives in Ayrshire.
Due to its close proximity to the Gulf Stream, Ayrshire and Arran tend to enjoy a milder year-round climate than the rest of the country. The influence of the Gulf Stream also explains the presence of the seemingly incongruous sub-tropical palm trees in the region, a unique local flora that make many gardens feel extra special.
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