12 Reasons to make Ayrshire and Arran your place for a summer break
Experience Ayrshire and Arran during the summer for the ultimate escape during the warmer months. With spectacular coastal views and long, warm, sunny summer days, experience the amazing beaches and outdoor adventures that Ayrshire and Arran can offer. From paddle power to pedal power, underwater expeditions to mountain peaks, Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands is the number 1 place for your summer adventures. The only question is – what will you do first?
1. Adventure with experts
Adventures are never more fun than when you are being led by expert adventure tour guides. Mogabout Arran provide a unique but seriously fun way to explore the beautiful Isle of Arran. Set sail on the Firth of Clyde with boat tours and adventure experiences from Sea Clyde, Alba Experiences or Primal Adventures who also offer bespoke 4×4 tours of The Coig. Add a visit to Craufurdland Tree Top Trials for more high energy fun and a thrilling high wire experience or take a trip to Scotland’s newest outdoor activity centre at Craigmalloch Loch Doon Outdoor Activity Centre.
2. Days out with the kids
Warmer days are here, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors! Ayrshire is dotted with many beautiful country parks to explore. Pack a picnic, pull on your walking boots or get your bike ready. Explore Culzean Castle and Country Park near Maybole, Eglinton Country Park in Kilwinning, the Dumfries House Estate near Cumnock, or Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock.
3. Off the beaten track
Ayrshire is steeped in history with links to William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Robert Burns and even the Vikings! Ayrshire and Arran’s walking routes perfectly blend local heritage and beautiful scenery. Rewind 700 years and walk up Loudounhill to see the Wallace Monument at Darvel. This marks the site of The Battle of Loudoun Hill – fought in 1307 between the English and a Scots force led by King Robert the Bruce.
Explore the town of Ayr using the ‘Ayr Through the Ages‘ app where you can follow the Blue Bonnet trail. Arran is home to the Machrie Moor ancient standing stones, a beautiful walk that permeates ancient history.
4. Indoor Activities
When the odd wet weather day occurs, head to Burns country to celebrate Scottish culture and heritage on The Coig’s Shire route. A deeply authentic experience awaits, learn about Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns in the very place he was born and lived. Burns locations include the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr, the Burns House Museum in Mauchline, the Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens and the Brig O’ Doon in Alloway. Alternatively, visit the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine which is home to a nationally significant collection or try the The Dick Institute in Kilmarnock which is a 4 star museum and gallery.
5. Take 5 and tour the whole region
Gaelic for ‘five’ – The Coig comprises of five touring routes around Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae in Scotland. Each route can be enjoyed by car, bike or on foot. Perfect for summer day trips, short breaks or long holidays, The Coig’s five routes showcase the area’s natural beauty, outdoor adventures, history, heritage and visitor attractions. Download the free app to help you plan and explore.
6. Wildlife spotting
Red Squirrels can be seen throughout Scotland but Loch Doon in East Ayrshire is a great place to spot them as well as observing an Osprey nest in real time from the Roundhouse Cafe until August. Brodick Castle and Country Park on the isle of Arran is a stronghold for red squirrels and you will find red deer stags wandering around Lochranza.
Along the River Ayr Way walk you can expect to see hen harrier, merlin and peregrine falcon. Or visit the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Ayr Gorge woodlands reserve which is home to otter, badger, red squirrel and deer. RSPB Lochwinnoch is a an ideal spot to get away from it all and enjoy some amazing wildlife with the family.
7. Hit the water
With 108 square miles of pure adventure, the different sites of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park feature amazing open spaces where you can walk, cycle, sail or paddle. Check out Castle Semple Country Park for outdoor activities and a wide range of water-sports. Adventure Carrick provide adrenaline-filled watersports such as canoeing, SUP and coasteering. For rock-pooling and relaxing by the sea? Then the beaches at Seamill, Girvan or Millport are for you!
8. Best beaches to visit
The flat expanses of Ayrshire, Arran, Bute and Cumbrae’s beaches are simply dazzling. Long stretches of broad sandy beaches can be found at Ayr, Croy, Irvine, Prestwick and Troon. With shallow waters perfect for paddling and stunning views across to Arran. Pack your picnic, sunblock and pitch up for a fantastic day of playing in the sand, walking along the coastal path or paddling in the shallows.
9. Adventurous places to stay
Quirky accommodation and unusual places to stay where you don’t have to compromise on comfort is the perfect combination. Stay in a magical yurt at Kelburn Castle, a luxurious log cabin at Pirleyhill Pods or even in a safari tent at Balmichael Glamping. For animal lovers, stay on a working farm such as Bellvue Farm Tours and Holiday Cottages, Coalhill Farm Holiday Cottages (hot-tub included).
10. Outdoor eating
Summer is a time for bbq’s outdoor eating and lots of ice cream! For foodies visiting, there are plenty of places you can enjoy local Scottish culinary delights. For welcoming restaurants, inns or pubs try the Lairds Table Restaurant on the beautiful Craufurdland Estate, The Orangery Restaurant in West Kilbride and Fencebay in Fairlie for award-winning Scottish fish and seafood. GRO Coffee in Irvine is dog-friendly and is opening in Ayr at the end of May. The Urbanist in Kilmarnock serves local produce and has a gin garden at the front and a BBQ and outdoor bar at the back.
11. Summer drinks and tasting tours
Around Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands you will find number of distilleries and we are not only talking whisky! Scottish Gin distilleries are often open to the public for tastings and tours of their premises. Visit the Cladach Beach House at Arran Gin for cocktails by the sea. Head to Lagg Whisky or Lochranza Distillery on Arran for an immersive whisky tour, tasting and experience. The Cumbrae Distillers also produce their own local and award winning Scottish Gin. What will you be sipping on this summer?
12. Island hopping
For a fun and memorable summer holiday, start with an alfresco ferry ride or thrilling boat trip out on the ocean waves. Leave the car at Largs and jump on the 10min ferry to Cumbrae for the perfect family cycling day trip. Holy Isle, Pladda and Ailsa Craig are all accessible via boat trip or ferry, watch out for the amazing array of bird and marine life on your journey.
Looking for more adventures?
The Coig’s five routes offer unforgettable experiences around the Clyde Coast and Islands – take a look and plan your next adventure along The Shire, The Shiel, The Arran, The Bute or The Cumbrae!
Check out the VisitScotland website for even more info on all the amazing adventures you can have during your time in Ayrshire and on the isle of Arran!