Auld Ayr, a nostalgic sea side town with lots of history where you can go and relax with a stock of rock and a walk along the shore, take in the shops in the town and visit the attractions.
Or an outdated town with many closed businesses, little parking and a promenade with eyesore buildings in desperate need of renovation.
First of all this review won't give any hotel prices or places to stay etc... You can easily find out this information which suits your budget yourself, what I intend to do is help you decide if you want to visit, I am looking to capture the essence of a place.
There is a reasonable road network leading into Ayr and adequate signage to tell you where to park the problems begin when you find a car park and notice the neon full sign, further forraging will hopefully result in success.
Once on foot you most likely will head for the town centre which is pedestrianised except for when someone decides to drive through it, usually when you're not looking.
The shops in this area could be from any town in the uk, the usual highstreet fare dotted with one or two "shortbread and rock" shops, further up the new Ayr Central Shopping Centre is now open but again its a cloned highstreet special, it is nice with a pavement cafe and some seating though. Across the street in the kyle centre its much of the same in an enclosed mall of quite small/average size.
The Sandgate is probably the second busiest street in the town, Its very nice nearing the top end with some historical old buildings and has some interesting wares.
Heading for the beach you will be impressed by the courthouse building and the Pavilion, a great example of a traditional seaside dance hall, it now plays host to a large indoor kids play area, this is reasonable and has a good reputation. The outside playpark right on the beach is huge and gives a good choice of things for the kids to do, this is free.
One of the features of this area is the low green, a large grass area behind the promenade road which plays host to many summer activities like giant kite flying and pipe bands etc, the road along the prom is the most traffic calmed road I know, this is to deter the youngsters with their huge stereos with cars attached from aimlessly driving up and down, it didn't work.
Onto the beach itself, A glorious long golden stretch of sand, very little rubbish and some clean looking water, It has had a large clean up recently and looks hoovered, well worth a visit.
Eating and drinking wise in Ayr there are numerous restaurants and cafes some of which you wouldn't enter and some you'd enjoy, I'd recommend the wellington cafe at the very top of the sandgate for their perfect fish supper, there is a large niteclub scene and its well serviced there.
Around the area there is bags of history from Rabbie Burns house in alloway, to Dunure castle and the electric brae through to Turnberry Golf Course.
Ayr has some lovely buildings, streets and views it has some good eating places, there is a great beach and lots of history, shop wise there's nothing to offer an experience different from your local town and it would benefit from some major renovations in some areas like the cobbled area behind the lorne arcade to the few boarded up shops and cleaner toilets.
Should you visit ? Shop Locally, but if you fancy a day at the beach you will be pushed to find better, go its got character.
Ayr: an agricultural market town in the south west of Scotland, boasting a population of around 48,000. Scotland was one of those places on my ‘must visit’ list, so when we found Haven holidays had a campsite there we decided to take the plunge and visit the much talked about beauty of Scotland. We stayed just outside of Ayr at the Haven Craig Tara camp; a few minutes on the bus or taxi would take you into the town centre. I was under the impression that the further north you went, the cheaper things become. How wrong could I been, prices are no cheaper, and indeed some are even more expensive than my hometown in Suffolk. Still I digress. Ayr is a pleasant enough town, with old building over looking the shoppers in the bustling streets below. The town offers a whole host of both local and national shops! To make you feel at home they have such stores as: Asda; Dorothy Perkins; Burtons; Woolworth’s etc. For the little touch of Scotland there are some good quality gift shops, one that we particularly liked, was ‘the tartan corner’. A little expensive: but some good stuff. You can buy all the usual gifts that you might expect, such as Edinburgh rock, ordinary rocks, tartan goods, Scottish ornaments and so forth. Ayr can also brag of a beach, which certainly cannot be accused of being ‘commercialised’. As far as we see it had one dingy looking café, and some toilets. But it is walk able from the town centre- so not too bad. A daily free bus goes from Craig Tara and Ayr into a local theme park called ‘Loudon castle’. As said the bus is free, and entry into the park is around normal, but wheelchair pushers/disabled helper get in free. Ayr can also boast of a popular racecourse. In addition the racecourse is used as a massive market/car boot sale every Sunday. This market is extremely busy and fairly big, although if you go expecting some gre
at bargains you might be disappointed. Of course the best claim to fame it has is probably the poet Robert Burns. Burns was born in nearby Alloway, and has he’s own museum in Ayr. Edinburgh is around 2 hours by coach, and well worth paying a visit (see my opinion on Edinburgh). One thing that I was a little worried about was the difference in money (a silly worry maybe-but a lot of English shops won’t take Scottish money). However, there is no worry on that score, we managed to spend ALL our English money-with no problem! It is a well-known fact that the Scottish people and English people are not the best of friends. We did come across a little hostility, nothing that spoilt our holiday. One taxi driver did actually say to me “Where you from?” Upon hearing my English/London accent, he spoke the words “You know we you don’t you?” A little taken aback, I shrugged it off until a few more words were spoken from his mouth, trying to smooth his first words out, by joking about it. Still I stress not all people are like this, as my mother says, “there are good and bad in all”. Being disabled I was in a wheelchair for my visit. Which was a feat in itself. The parts of Scotland that we have seen were not wheelchair friendly at all. A few lowered kerbs here and there (not regular though), and the odd disabled toilet thrown in for good measure. All in all Ayr was a nice place to visit, but for scenery and lochs you need to travel to other parts. If any disabled visitors were intending to go, then I would strongly recommend you take someone with you, as some parts may be difficult. Give Scotland a go if you fancy it, while we probably wouldn’t go back – you never know Nessie may well decide to go public and that would certainly mean another visit!
What a warm and welcoming bunch we Scots are, always ready to help the tourist, so kind and good-natured, full of fun and always obliging.........unless of course you want to enter a shop after 5.30 p.m., have a drink after 11p.m. or eat your evening meal after 9.p.m......No,No,No.....we don't do that. We have set our hours of opening to suit ourselves and if the tourists don't like it.......well, that's their problem... When will we wake up and realise that one of the most under-utilised industries in this country is tourism. We have one of the most beautiful countries in the world, where the possibilities of increasing the number of visitors we receive each year are endless, and our idea of servicing the market is to provide some shortbread, whiskey, occassional piper and sprig of heather.....wrap it all up in a bit of tartan and sell it at grossly inflated prices. It infuriates me when I visit some of the picturesque towns and villages throughout Scotland and find groups of tourists being herded onto coaches for the obligatory tours. Oh yes, it is a wonderful way to see the country, travelling along at 50-70 mph, and you get to meet the people, a grumpy coach driver and stressed out tour guide at 7a.m. are really indicative of the Scottish people. You get to taste the local produce, a pre-booked lunch in a hotel/restaurant catering for large coach parties and using frozen/microwave food really does enhance the eating experience. The choice of souvenirs is excellent, the aforementioned tartan gifts have hardly changed since they were first introduced, they have always been over-priced and of poor quality. The lack of service to the tourist industry was brought home to me by a visit last summer to the seaside town of Ayr. This was my local childhood beach and I told my children of all the wonderful days I had spent on the beach, park and amusement centre. We set off to relive my past and give the children a day to
remember....or one to forget. I could feel the excitement building as we reached the town and almost reaching creshendo level as the beach came into view. We parked on the promenade and made our way to the childrens' play area where we had, on a previous visit, played on the trampolines, go-carts, boating pond, bouncy castle and taken a ride on the miniature railway. It had gone.........replaced by a car park. In order to allay the disappointment, we decided upon the fairground, it had always been one of the biggest and best in Scotland. It had gone.....replaced by some appartments. Our next stop was the park, full of new and innovative play structures. It had gone.......replaced by some shops. We decided to have lunch and looked around for a suitable restaurant. We needed an establishment which would allow us access with a baby buggy. There were none, not a single restaurant would allow us to enter with a sleeping child in a buggy, we got a take-away sandwich instead. The beach in the town of Ayr has always been one of the cleanest in Scotland, but was now covered in litter and decaying seaweed. It really did smell bad and there were no deckchairs. The public toilets were filthy and indeed unuseable. Our day of disappointment was made complete when we found that all the shops, even the souvenir shops closed at 5.30p.m. We couldn't even buy a stick of rock. This was in the middle of July, the town of Ayr, in common with many Scottish towns, was filled with tourists. Everyone was wandering around trying to find something to do. There were no shows, films or shops. A quick meal and a visit to the pub seemed the only option available to holiday-makers. An evening stroll seemed out of the question as the town quickly filled with teenagers and hundreds of motor-bikes. We were all greatly disappointed. The really sad part in all of this is that the local people really do have a great pr
ide in their town. Houses and gardens are beautifully kept but they appear to have little or no control over the planning of the town as it now appears to be money rather than facility led, by a very greedy and unhelpful local council. It is such a pity that a previously bustling, favourite holiday town is reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. The history of the town and its many old buildings are being lost under the concrete structures of new development. This town does play a great part in Scottish literary history, having been the stomping ground of our national poet, Rabbie Burns, who hailed from nearby Alloway. On the positive side, I will say that shopping facilities are very good and there are many fine restaurants, the people are genuinely friendly and very helpful, but even the locals whom we spoke to were depressed about the state of the town. I know that the availability of cheap foreign travel has meant that many of our traditional holiday towns have fallen by the wayside as many of us jet off into the sun, but, we should perhaps try to remember that we have a large incoming trade who need to be entertained and amused after 5.30 p.m. I did contact the local council and put some of these points to them, I was told that Ayr is no longer considered merely a holiday town but is more of a commuter town for Glasgow. Oh well, I guess that explains why they don't need facilities after 5.30....well according to the council...."people are just too tired to go out in the evening after they have been working all day and travelled home to Ayr". I would have asked about weekends, but quite frankly, I was no longer interested......it will be a long time before we return and that only makes me sad. I have worked in Scottish Tourism and I am well aware of the need for change within an industry, while steeped in tradition, is very slow to realise that we in Scotland are now much more accessible to Europe a
nd the rest of the world. Perhaps we should just try to give our visitors the sort of service that we expect when travelling in other countries. :-) The town of Ayr is situated approximately 30 miles west of Glasgow and is accessible by car, coach and rail. Coach and Rail services are very efficient.
I suppose my first impressions of Ayr were that of a unprepossessing town..But then my judgement may have been clouded, by a journey filled with vehicle breakdowns, and a car sick passenger.. Our arrival at the Hotel Nova..(Medium sized, guest house type establishment situated close to beaches..) at around midnight and five hours late, caused hardly a ripple..The owner greeted us warmly, showed us to our rooms,offered us sustainence, and said if we felt up to it would we like to join a party he was giving for his American guests..It being July 4th... It was a great party..At least the bits I can remember! We were in Ayr for the German Shepherd Clubs two day show, to be held on Ayr's racecourse..But that did not stop us taking advantage of the miles of clean sandy beaches, and the somewhat cold sea water..Or from sampling the towns shopping facilities..Whilst a garage recommended by our friendly hotelier sorted out our mechanical problems.. And a very good job they did, and at a very reasonable price.. I could not say Ayr would provide the sort of entertainment most under 30's enjoy..But a family looking for a sea-side holiday, in the company of the ever hospitable Scots, could do a lot worse..And the countryside surrounding the Town is pretty amazing, and well worth taking long walks through..