Ayrshire & Arran is the perfect destination to unravel the rich history and heritage of Scotland. From Picts and Vikings to Robert the Bruce, you will be taken on a journey through hundreds of years of social and political change, influencing far beyond these west coast boundaries.
The region’s turbulent and varied past has given rise to a treasure trove of castles, wonderful stately homes and dramatic historic ruins. With cliff-top views overlooking Ailsa Craig and the Firth of Clyde, Culzean is one of Scotland’s best loved castles.
At the magnificent Dean Castle and Country Park in Kilmarnock discover world-class collections of historical objects including weapons and armoury.
Across on the Isle of Arran, uncover the island’s ancient past at Brodick Castle, which dates back 1,500 years, or at the magnificent 14th century ruin Lochranza Castle.
The region also has significant ties to the Vikings. These Nordic warriors took control of the Firth of Clyde from around 800 AD and the region has the hallmarks of hundreds of years of Norse domination. At Vikingar in Largs you can learn all about their fascinating adventure in Scotland which is brought to life through film, storytellers and costume displays.
In Largs you can also visit the 70 ft Pencil Monument commemorating the Battle of Largs. This fight took place in 1263 when King Haakon of Norway’s fleet of 200 ships was defeated - mostly thanks to a mighty storm rather than Scottish forces. Only a 10-minute ferry ride from Largs is the Isle of Cumbrae, one of Scotland’s most accessible islands which was once a Viking stronghold.
Ayrshire & Arran also has a wealth of stone circles, standing stones and early Bronze Age sites. The fascinating prehistoric rock carvings at the Ballochmyle Carved Cliffs at Mauchline, the Stone Age Cairn of Cairn Table at Muirkirk, and the early Bronze Age Giants Graves on Arran are just some of the ancient historical sites of the region. Take in the mysterious beauty of Machrie Moor on the Isle of Arran which includes Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, a magnificent stone circle.
You can also explore the King’s Cave where Robert the Bruce is said to have been inspired to continue the fight for Scottish independence by a tenacious spider. Inside the cave there are also many faint Pictish and early Christian symbols carved on the walls.
The Isle of Arran is a stunning contrast of mountains, glens, beaches and rolling hills. There is a good chance of spotting golden eagles and other majestic birds of prey, as well as red deer and red squirrels. The walk to Glenashdale Falls will reward you with stunning views of the waterfall and the coast is frequented by seals, basking sharks and porpoise.
Back on the mainland at Scotland’s largest regional park, Clyde Muirshiel, you can view hen harriers, and at Galloway Forest Park look skywards and discover the UK’s first Dark Sky Park.
With stunning landscapes and fascinating historical sites Ayrshire & Arran is the perfect destination to learn about the land that inspired Disney•Pixar's Brave.