Ayrshire is packed full of interesting places, people, businesses and cultural attractions. With so much to explore on our doorstep it helps to discover some of the region’s many hidden gems…

Blue Bonnet Trails Ayr

Fantastic walks for everyone, led by 23 Blue Bonnet signs on walls, gates, trees and posts from Ayr town centre out to the beautiful village of Alloway.  The main trail, ‘Tam’s Trail’ follows Tam o’ Shanter’s journey home from Ayr to Alloway, on his trusty steed, Maggie, in Robert Burns’ most famous poem, Tam o’ Shanter. The ‘Alloway Trail’ explores more of the surrounding area. 

Whether you decide to walk all or part of the trails, drive, start from various locations, or use public transport, the Blue Bonnet signs will guide your way.

‘Tam’s Trail’, approximately 3.5 miles (5km), begins at the Tam o’ Shanter pub on Ayr High Street, serving as a good starting point (or pint stop).   This leads to Burns Statue Square, past the Old Racecourse and Belleisle Golf Course, and then into the magnificent Belleisle Estate, with its stunning Conservatory, deer park, beautiful walled garden and a children’s play park. Then make your way to Cambusdoon Estate and into the haunted Auld Kirk Alloway, before finally reaching the Brig o’ Doon.

Glasgow Times:

There are several places to stop along the way for food and refreshments, including the Stables cafe in Belleisle; the Secret Garden at Doonfoot; and the Brig o’ Doon Hotel in Alloway - whether you fancy a coffee or a 3-course lunch, you’ll be well catered for.

The ‘Alloway Trail’, approximately 1 ¼ miles (2.1km), explores Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which houses more than 5,000 Burns artefacts including his handwritten manuscripts. There’s also a charming gift shop and cafe where you can celebrate his legacy with haggis, neeps and tatties.  You can then head into Alloway Village and visit Burns Cottage, Burns birthplace.

Next is Rozelle Estate, where you can wander the grounds to find wooden sculptures chainsawed from chopped tree stumps, many based on original photographs, a tribute to those who fought and died in the First World War. While here, pop into Rozelle House Museum & Galleries, which offers a changing programme of exhibitions, events and activities and home to Scottish Artist Alexander Goudie’s magnificent series of paintings inspired by ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. There is also the Maclaurin Art Gallery and a tearoom where you can enjoy some delicious home baking.

Glasgow Times:

Download the ‘Ayr Through the Ages’ app from the app store to fully experience all that the trails offer, including an interactive map and videos of Tam reciting “Tam o’ Shanter”.



Dundonald Castle

Dundonald Castle is truly one of Scotland’s hidden gems, tucked away in the quiet, rural landscape in South Ayrshire. The castle itself is temporarily closed, however, public access is still available to castle hill and you will get stunning views across the sleepy village of Dundonald, up the river Clyde and out across Ayrshire.

The 14th century hilltop fortified ruin is looked after on a daily basis by The Friends of Dundonald Castle (FoDC) who also manage the attraction’s Visitor Centre.

Glasgow Times:

One of Scotland’s most unexplored and fascinating outdoor attractions, this heritage treasure was the historic home to Scots King Robert II, grandson of Robert the Bruce. It boasts historic links to the Stewart dynasty, the Wallace family, and the Cochranes – favourites of Charles II.

A visit to Dundonald Castle is a great family day out, with a place to enjoy locally-sourced food options from the coffee shop, a small museum and exhibition area, and local play and picnic areas. The Visitor Centre is fully accessible and has toilet facilities.

This year, FoDC are excited to be celebrating 25 years as a community charity, and Royal Dundonald Castle, is also celebrating 650 years since it’s completion, in time for the coronation of King Robert II in 1371.

Glasgow Times:

As well as the castle being steeped in a longstanding and fascinating history, it also sits at the start/end of the Smugglers’ Trail – a popular walking route – that runs from the visitor centre to Troon beach front. This walk takes around two hours to walk end to end (four if you decided to walk back too). There is also the next chapter of Dundonald Castle’s history, Old Auchans, a 20 minute walk away through ancient woodland.

For all the latest updates about Dundonald Castle, please check out the website: www.dundonaldcastle.org.uk and social media.

*Image credits: Jason Robertson & Laura Elizabeth


Hunter Kingsley

Hunter Kingsley is a bespoke tailors and boutique in Newmarket Street in Ayr. The store retains the original 60s interior of wooden panelling and brass detailing of a former jewellers whilst boasting contemporary features such as the iconic bright yellow canopy and decadent dried foliage.

Glasgow Times:

Established in 2018 Hunter Kingsley is fast becoming the voice of modern sartorialism in Scotland, gaining a reputation for impeccably tailored suits and Highlandwear with a focus on design, colour and texture. The Ayr based business work by appointment, closing the store for every client to ensure undisrupted time and dedication to designing a beautiful and perfect fitting suit in a relaxed and comfortable setting.

With a modern approach to tailoring, Hunter Kingsley draw inspiration from classic styles, whilst using the finest fabrics from across the UK to create garments that epitomise contemporary luxury and timelessness.

In addition to their bespoke tailoring and Highlandwear offering, Hunter Kingsley carries a curated selection of accessories from ties to socks as well as a bespoke shirt service, catering to any occasion that requires sartorial elegance.

Glasgow Times:

Weddings play a big part of the business with grooms, and brides, enjoying the Hunter Kingsley service, creating a beautiful and unique suit for their big day. From tweeds and cashmeres, perfect for rustic Highland nuptials to mohair and silk dinner suits for elegant and refined black tie affairs, Hunter Kingsley create the perfect suit for your perfect day.

For more information or to book an appointment, visit hunterkingsley.com


The Irvine Golf Club

Set in a seaside location, the neighbouring Gulf Stream ensures year-round links golf, whilst the romantic peaks of Arran present a stunning backdrop to the landscape.

It was over the links land of Scotland that the game of golf was born and still today the true links experience is unparalleled the world over.

Glasgow Times:

The Irvine Golf Club established 1887, is a fine example and is regularly used by the R&A as a Final Open Qualifying Course. In 2003, the Club co-hosted the Amateur Championship with Royal Troon and in 2007, the British Seniors' Open with Turnberry. In 2009, the Ladies Home Internationals were also successfully hosted at the Irvine Golf Club. In 2016 the club hosted the Scottish Youths Championship and the Ladies British Open Final Qualifying was also held at the club in 2017.

It truly is one of Scotland’s hidden gems, offering a traditional links challenge, which owes much of its present-day character to the course design of the great James Braid. One of Scotland’s most celebrated course designers, James Braid created a legacy of distinctive courses, characterised by their great variety and interesting use of nature’s assets.

Glasgow Times:

Given its long and prestigious history, the Irvine Golf Club is an excellent choice for group bookings.

The Irvine Golf Club
KA12 8SN
Tel: 01294 275979



Sheila Kerr Jewellery

Combining her background as a Business Management lecturer with her creativity, Sheila launched Sheila Kerr Jewellery in September 2011.

Sheila is a designer goldsmith and creates her designer jewellery in her studio at Irvine harbourside in Ayrshire. She is inspired by the stunning landscapes and literature of Scotland and is passionate about what she does.

Glasgow Times:

Sheila was recently awarded runner up for Jewellery Designer of the year by the National Association of Jewellers. Sheila Kerr Jewellery is also a nominee at Scotland’s Business Awards 2021.

All of Sheila’s precious metal jewellery carries her Personal Hallmark which is stamped by the illustrious Edinburgh Assay Office. Not only does the hallmark guarantee the quality of the precious metal, it also significantly increases the value of each piece of jewellery.

Glasgow Times:

Sheila Kerr Jewellery is open for business and operates both online and by appointment at the studio. A fully bespoke service is also offered.

For more information contact Sheila at: www.sheilakerrjewellery.com

Phone: 07858 257455