On your second day, visit Kilmarnock, where the first book of poems by Robert Burns was printed, the famous Kilmarnock Edition of 1786. Burns was farming nearby at Mossgiel, Mauchline at the time which meant Kilmarnock was his market and business town. He was well liked there and local business people helped him by raising funds for the publication. Kilmarnock is still the headquarters of the Robert Burns World Federation today.
Take the road to Mauchline, east of Ayr, a little town where Burns started his married life and also had some of his most creative years. His former home is now the Burns' House Museum, displaying Burns memorabilia and folk artefacts. The striking National Burns Memorial is also in the town.
Mauchline Churchyard was the final resting place of many of Burns’ contemporaries, including the local Mauchline character Willie Fisher, whose religious aspirations were satirised and immortalised in the unforgettable Holy Willie’s Prayer. The present Poosie Nancie’s pub has direct links back to Burns time – Nancie was the landlady in Burns’ day. Burns’ poem The Holy Fair describes the high spirits of Mauchline Holy Fair, a tradition still observed in the town.
In the afternoon, take the main A76 south for Dumfries to Ellisland Farm. Once home to the famous Scots poet, his former home is now a popular museum and you can see his original writing and possessions and take a stroll along the idyllic Burns Walk where he composed Tam o' Shanter. Take a guided tour of the farmhouse to see the rooms where the poet and his wife, Jean Armour, lived and worked.
Finish the day by following Burns from this farm to Dumfries, where he moved in 1791. Enjoy a drink in the Globe Inn, Burns’ favourite pub, which is still open. His favourite seat still survives, and some of his poetry, scratched by the poet on window glass, may still be seen.