Ravenglass to Dumfries / New Abbey to Stranraer / Girvan to Port Glasgow


We left Wigtownshire, what is now Dumfries and Galloway, and drove into Ayrshire - Rabbie Burns land. The coast is a mixture of rocky headlands, sand dunes and beaches - with an abundance of golf courses.


LendalfootOn leaving the loch, the road climbs through hills and trees before emerging on the coast at Ballantrae. This is pretty. with its salmon pools and nature reserve where the river reaches the sea. For fifty miles from Stranraer to Ayr, the low, rocky shore can be seen beside the coastal road. All along the shore are rocky crags and groups of sea birds.

There is a good viewpoint at Sawny Bean's Cave, but the place houses a static caravan site with the lines of vans looking as if they are about to get swept into the sea.


Ailsa CraigThere are very good places all along the coast to see Ailsa Craig, but the best place is at Girvan, where you can actually get a boat from the harbour to do the 10-mile trip. Known as 'Fairy Rock', it is a plug of an extinct volcano. Although it looks like a doughnut, there are jagged cliffs and a 1114ft summit, home to thousands of gannets. Granite from here is used to make the best curling stones.


Girvan's harbour is pretty and has an active fishing fleet, but there is plenty of seaside tat elsewhere in the town.

To the north an ugly distillery sits on a hill, made worse because it does not allow visitors!


lighthouse at Turnberry PointTumberryThe road presses on north through Tumberry, home of two famous golf courses - Ailsa and Arran. It looked a bit posher round here and over the links it was possible to see the lighthouse at Turnberry Point.

Culzean Castle

We drove on through an NTS country park and saw signs for Culzean Castle. Designed by Robert Adam, the turrets rise high above the tall cliffs. There was an original 15th century structure but it was replaced in 1777 by the tenth Earl of Cassillis.

Culzean Castle It took 15 years to complete but it was well worth it. An apartment was given to President Eisenhower during his lifetime and the castle is now a pricey hotel. The Adam staircases and round saloon are particularly impressive.

DanureWe also noted a caravan site in the park which, on reflection, we should have stayed at.

Further on at Electric Brae an optical illusion makes you think the road goes uphill, but it does in fact go down - something to do with the land at the sides of the road.. On driving through the outskirts of Ayr we passed the Butlins Holiday Camp which looked a bit grim even with its new name (Wonderwest World ?????).


AyrWe found the campsite in Craiggie Park, it was a bit enclosed but not full and only 15 minutes into town - a long 15 minutes via Safeways. Ayr became a popular Victorian seaside resort and now has a population is 50,000. There is a long sandy beach and esplanade drive and a prestigious racecourse - the horses are exercised on the beach in the early morning.


The town is dominated by the County Buildings with formal gardens and statues in front.

Down the road at Alloway is Burns Cottage, the start of The Burn's pilgrimage to Dumfries - visit the farm, drink in his pub, visit his grave, see where he was married, sit in his chair etc, etc.


We started the day early and drove past the bluebells in the park before taking a daylight look around Ayr. We crossed the river by one of the four bridges and the built-up area continued north through Prestwick.

We passed the international airport from where many Americans and Japanese begin their whistlestop golf tours. There are three courses here.


Troon Marina Only six golf courses here. This is a golfy and boaty place and there are several shops devoted to the sports. There seems to be a lot of money floating about and there are towered and turreted red-sandstone Victorian houses, the posh Royal Troon Golf Club and several large hotels. This is an up-market place. Everything is called Ailsa, because you can see the island from here as well.

Troon BeachA stop at the marina confirmed this, hundreds of expensive boats moored in neat rows and a nautical centre as well. The map shop sells nautical charts, not OS road maps, and they sent us to John Menzies.

The North Sands are a beach for windsurfing - long and flat. One notice says "don't walk your dog on the beach" and another one says "don't leave your dog in the car', so it's a bit pointless bringing it at all!


Irvine streetWe drove on past Barassie with the 'Stinking Rocks' just off the coast and then took a small road running alongside the trunk road to lrvine, which is an industrial centre and once the main port for Glasgow. The history is told in the Scottish Maritime museum by the old harbour. Moored by the museum are a dredger, fishing skiff, lifeboat, tug and 'puffer' boat - the first one used as an inshore supply boat along the Clyde and between the islands.

IrvineThere are some pretty streets around the museum and a large area of reclaimed industrial land that has been transformed into the Magnum Beach Park. We climbed a hill to get a panoramic view of the surrounding area, but it was too cold to stop for long.

Kilwinning Abbey

The road skirted the west side of the town with the disused Bogside Racecourse to our left and inland through Kilwinning and Stevenston. The former, although built-up wasn't bad, with an old abbey and some riverside walks, but the latter isn't as nice..

Saltcotes and Ardrossan

Arran from SaltcotesSaltcotes is a very pleasant beach resort with good views of the Isle of Arran and a lot of dog walkers. It got its name from the 16th century salt-pans, where sea water was evaporated for salt. The South Bay is enclosed by two rocky headlands and actually faces south. It is one of Glasgow's favourite weekend escapes, with plenty to do.

ferry from ArranWe could see the ferry from Arran arriving at Ardrossan. Around the headland, just beside Horse Isle are North Bay and the ferry port where the biggest Cal-Mac ferry docks from Brodick.

SeamillWe were lucky enough to see the ship with its bow open but couldn't get out into the stream of traffic coming from it. The town is touristy now but the harbour dates back to 1806.



The road runs close to the coast up to Seamill past sandy shores and craggy outcrops with names like Limpet Craig, South Inch and Brither Rocks.

Overlooking Ardneil Bay is the ruin of Portencross Castle, built in the 14th century and four storeys high. In 1315, Robert the Bruce, took it from Godfrey de Ros and gave it to Robert Boyd, his loyal follower.

Robert II stopped here on his way to his coronation at Scone. In the 18th century, fishermen who used it, ripped out much of the interior and in 1910 a concrete slab roof was put on to protect the vaulted ceiling.

Hunstanton power Station

We passed Hunterston Nuclear Power Station with its visitor centre.

At Fairlie there is a pleasant picnic spot with views of the nearby islands of Great Cumbrie, Little Cumbrie and Bute. The view is marred by the presence of a conveyor and pier for coal and iron shipment, as Hunterston is a terminal.

Great CumbrieThere were a few yachts on the water and someone riding a horse. It was pleasant and the islands are beckoning.

Watch this space.........


LargsWe could see Largs from Fairlie and when we got there we decided it looked a nice town to visit. It is a centre for travelling to the islands with a vehicle ferry to Great Cumbrie. The long esplanade offers amusement arcades, boat trips and children's play areas. We fancied going to the Vikingar exhibhition.


We took the trouble to drive up a road with hairpin bends to get to a viewpoint, only to be annoyed by a low barrier at the car park entrance and nowhere else to stop. There were several of these barriers in the town carparks as well. Don't expect to stop here if you are in anything taller than a car!!! We decided to spend our money in a place that was more friendly to tourists with camper vans and left.

Wemyss Bay - pronounced 'Weems'

disused power stationThe Rothsay Ferry goes from here and the only landmark is the huge chimney of a very ugly disused power station, although the railway station is listed Grade A. memorial at lnverkip Bay

At lnverkip Bay there is a massive marina and a quiet parking spot by the memorial. The picnic place a mile on at Lunderston Bay was a different story, with ice cream vans and hoards of people. There is a good view of Dunoon across Holy Loch, and a lighthouse at Cloche Point.

Click here to view our trip to the Islands


The name comes from the ancient British 'ryhn frwd' than means 'point of current'. The county is synonymous with shipbuilding on the Clyde.Entering Renfrewshire, begins the Glasgow suburbs on the Firth of Clyde. The towns are industrial but they are surrounded by beautiful Scottish hills and lochs.


Gouroch and Greenock

GourochGouroch is a centre for steamer trips in the Firth. Driving around the north shore there is a long esplanade with grass and loads of parking and we watched a container ferry go by. The information centre is situated next to a huge yellow kettle, but it was closed. The significance of the kettle is the association with James Watt, who was inspired by watching a kettle boil.


Watt was born in Greenock, the site of the first dock on the Clyde, founded in 1711. The place is now full of grim 60's tower blocks and shopping centres, but was one of Scotland's most ancient towns because of its safe anchorage. There is a fabulous view from Lyle Hill.

It is getting nastier towards Glasgow.

Port Glasgow

Newark castle This is one of the world's greatest shipbuilding towns; Henry Bell's Comet was built here. It was a small fishing village until 1688 when the burghers of Glasgow bought it and developed it as their main harbour.

LeaNewark Castle is set between the road and the shore, but the scenery is mostly cranes.

We stopped in a nice country park at Lea and could see Dumbarton on the other side of the Clyde. Old posts in the water show where timber from America used to be stored.

Road towards Erskine BridgeThe way to the north is by the Erskine Bridge which we could just about see from the road, and which skirts Glasgow to the west. Scottish Bear

Unfortunately we had to drive south this time.