Doon the watter: to the Ayrshire coast with ye!

Fraser Sutherland

The summer is the best opportunity to get out the city and look further afield, you might have seen island life thanks to Michael or Ruaridh, but what about following the River Clyde like millions of Glaswegians before you? As an honest Ayrshire lad I can tell you my home ‘shire has a rich heritage (think Rabbie Burns and cliff-top castles ), the legendary Royal Troon and Turnberry Golf courses and beautiful beaches (Prestwick, Troon & Girvan). It’s the birthplace of Johnny Walker Whisky, tarmac roads, and the only place Elvis stepped foot on British soil.

Every year thousands of Glaswegians would take the short trip ‘doon the watter’ on paddle steamers to towns like Largs, Ardrossan and Ayr. The Scots word ‘steamin’ meaning drunk comes from over-indulgent paddle steamer patrons who had one too many tipples on board. You can still go on the last sea going paddle steamer in the world, the Waverley, to get there. To save a few pennies you can take the train which takes just under an hour to Ayr £6.60 return with a rail card or £5.90 to Largs taking a similar journey time.

Largs & Millport

Largs is one of the most popular stops on the coast and is, strangely, home to one of Scotland’s richest couples. Make sure you visit Nardini’s for a massive ice cream, help fight the Vikings off Britain and see the large gathering of yachts at the town marina.

While in Largs you should take the short fifteen minute ferry trip across to the island of Cumbrae and visit the small town of Millport. It is home to the smallest cathedral in Europe, striking painted rock faces (including a crocodile on the beach) and what used to be the world’s narrowest house. Take time out to enjoy the sea-side classic of crazy golf on the shore front before heading back to the mainland.

Ayr & Alloway

Further south the historic burgh of Ayr has a fantastic beach to catch the rare Scottish sun or if not so nice, back a winner at Scotland’s most popular racecourse. The town has many historic sites seen best on foot including the Auld Brig, Loudoun Hall and the walls of Oliver Cromwell’s massive citadel. After working up a thirst there are many famous homely Ayrshire pubs including the basement Welly Boot, the thatched roofed Tam O’Shanter Inn and the Abbotsford Hotel.

Just outside Ayr is the small village of Alloway, birthplace to … well you know who. You can visit Robert Burns cottage where he was born, take a walk up to the monument and visit the fantastic new museum. If peckish check out Poets Corner opposite the cottage for a scrumptious lunch. Before you go make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to get your picture on the famous Brig O’Doon.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Geoff. Crolley

I’ve been told off a few times by my Inverness partner for saying “Afton Watter” but Rabbie used it in The Twa Dugs, so it’s guid enough for me.