Castle itinerary

From the majestic Culzean Castle to the spectacular Dundonald Castle, use this handy itinerary to explore the wide range of ancient castles in Ayrshire & Arran.

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  • Culzean Castle
    Culzean Castle
  • Culzean Castle & Country Park, by Maybole
    Culzean Castle & Country Park, by Maybole
  • A family admire the Great Hall in the Keep of Dean Castle
    Great Hall in Dean Castle
  • Looking across trees and farmland to Dundonald Castle
    Dundonald Castle
  • Looking across a wall to Rowallan Castle in the grounds of Rowallan Castle Golf Club
    Rowallan Castle

Begin the Castle trail with a visit to Rowallan Castle, near Kilmaurs. Located just off the A77, and right outside Kilmarnock, Rowallan Castle is only a 30 minute drive from Glasgow and well signposted. Set in rolling Ayrshire parkland, the castle is an extraordinary Renaissance house and was home to the Muirs of Ayrshire. Book a tour and enjoy a spectacular visit to this hidden gem. 

From there take a short drive to the Dean Castle Country Park, just a few minutes down the A77. Nestled in the heart of Kilmarnock, with over 200 acres of land and a fascinating castle, Dean Castle Country Park has a huge variety of activities to enjoy. Dean Castle takes its name from ‘the dean’ or wooded valley that surrounds it and originally dates back to 1350. Take a tour and experience the history and legacy of the Boyd family or stroll through the country park, which boasts beautiful woodland walks and a variety of biodiversity and conservation related events and talks. Children will love visiting the Pet’s Corner to pat Timmy and Pip the donkeys, or to say hello to the pygmy goats and Timmy the clydesdale horse.

Relax and enjoy a spot of lunch in the tearoom with a range of delicious meals, light bites and home baking to choose from.

Finish your day with a visit to the spectacular Dundonald Castle, perched on a cliff top overlooking the village of Dundonald. Explore the high-vaulted halls and gloomy dungeons of this splendid stronghold, originally built in the 1370s by King Robert II to mark his succession to the throne. Its heritage is explored in the visitor centre with an exhibition illustrating the history of the site and a display of some of the artefacts found during archaeological excavations on the hill. Enjoy a walk around the castle grounds, enjoying the spectacular view right out to the water and the Isle of Arran.

Begin your second day in the historic town of Ayr, the birthplace of many Scottish heroes, including Robert Burns and William Wallace. Take a stroll through the high street and stop at the magnificent Wallace Tower built in honour of William Wallace and may have been built on the site where William Wallace’s father once lived, now the centre of the High Street in Ayr.

Enjoy a coastal drive down the A719; look out for seals basking on the rocky shores as you make your way towards the village of Maybole. Situated just outside the village is the splendid Culzean Castle, a remarkable vision of turrets and battlements, surrounded by surging seas, lush forests and secret gardens. Take a guided tour and learn about the best features of the castle, including the stunning oval staircase, as well as the fine collection of paintings and furniture. The property is set in nearly 600 acres of stunning countryside and miles of paths lead visitors through majestic woodland and past secluded ponds. Head for the deer park, the cliff top walk or explore the beaches. Seek out the park's hidden treasures such as the ice houses, the Camellia House, the pagoda or the caves.

Take lunch in the Old Stables Coffee House or relax in the Visitor Centre Restaurant and marvel at the view over the estate. For a sweet treat, head to the Swan Pond Kiosk for delicious ice cream cones and other confectionary.

After lunch, continue down the coastal road to the ruin of Turnberry Castle. Though now a shadow of its former self, Turnberry Castle is steeped in history. Thought to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce in 1274, the castle was central to Bruce’s campaign. Eventually Bruce himself ordered the destruction of the castle to prevent it falling into English hands. It was never rebuilt and now stands, ruined jutting out over the sea. Enjoy a spectacular walk around the castle site, imagining how it once would have looked.

Finish the trail with a short drive along the A77, into the town of Girvan, where you will find the Stumpy Tower. Often known as Auld Stumpy, and of great historic interest, Stumpy Tower was built in the first half of the 19th century. Occupying a key position in Girvan town centre, it was built as the town's jail. Auld Stumpy served this purpose until the 1870s when a new jail and police station were built. Finish your day with a stroll around Girvan and enjoy an evening meal at one of the delicious coastal restaurants, where you can enjoy locally caught seafood and a spectacular view over to the Isle of Arran.