Time for Turnberry
The road from Cairnryan up towards Ayr is one that I have travelled since I was very young. It has amazing views of Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran and numerous little villages hugging the coastline.
One of the iconic landmarks on the road is Turnberry Resort, just outside Girvan. Known for decades as a mecca for golfers, the resort has had a slight change of course (of the non-golfing variety) to cater for families visiting the area.
The Lands of Turnberry self-catering apartments have recently been refurbished to an extremely high standard and allow families more flexibility than a normal hotel-stay. The apartments are in their own area on the resort but residents have access to the hotel, its numerous restaurants and bars as well as the Spa.
The resort makes the most of its 800 acres, and offers a number of outdoor activities for all agegroups. The resort farm offers children the chance to get up close to its animals and get involved in feeding time on regular tours, while others will jump at the chance to enjoy a horse ride along the beach.
The new falconry lessons which feature Harris Hawks and other birds of prey mean that the nearby golfers aren't the only ones experiencing 'birdies'.
There are a number of restaurants on the resort. The Ailsa Bar offers a fusion of Scots inspired dishes, many of which can be tried in smaller portions called "flights", so the diner can experience different tastes & textures instead of one main meal. Breakfast at the "1906 Restaurant", with its stunning views across the Golf Links and the Irish Sea, is amazing.
Home to the iconic Ailsa Course, which has hosted the Open Championship four times over, Turnberry Resort offers one of the world's great golfing experiences. The Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy is one of the world's premier teaching and practice facility for links golf and offers excellent opportunities for both individuals and groups. Each Turnberry PGA golf professional has worked closely with Colin Montgomerie OBE and is trained in the 'Monty method', providing specialised links golf tuition and endeavouring to improve the golfers overall game.
If you can tear yourself away from the many activities on the resort, there is plenty to see & do in the immediate area too.
Culzean Castle and Estate is a few miles away. The National Trust for Scotland have been entrusted with looking after the castle and the grounds, which feature a magnificent walled garden, a large swan lake and an adventure playground.
Nearby Alloway is home to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which has undergone an amazing transformation from its days as the "Land O' Burns Centre". The historic thatched cottage where Scotlands national poet was born is still there, of course, but the new museum is an excellent introduction to the man behind such famous songs as "Auld Lang Syne" and "My Love is like a Red Red Rose". Ayr Seafront has undergone many transformations over the years, and in my opinion, there's nothing better than buying chips and the ubiquitous battered haggis and eating them while sitting on the seafront wall.
All too soon it was time to hit the road, but our short break was extended by being able to luxuriate in the Stena Plus lounge on the new ferry route from Cairnryan back to Belfast, we even managed to get the 'best seats in the house' with a birds-eye view of the front of the ferry while enjoying the complimentary newspapers and refreshments.
You can see what Ayrshire has to offer by visiting www.visitscotland.com or www.turnberryresort.co.uk