Best picnic spots in Ayrshire
Where to head when the weather calls for blankets on the ground, and al fresco feasting? We guide you through some of the region’s best outdoor picnic spots
Dunure Shore and Castle, Ayr
Around five miles down the Ayrshire coast from the town of Ayr and the same distance north of Culzean Castle, the coast around the village of Dunure offers some of the finest scenery in the area. This spot features the ruined but accessible Dunure Castle, former seat of the Kennedy family, and Kennedy Park, with its popular Butterfly Garden, plus great views of Ailsa Craig and Arran.
Dean Castle Country Park, Kilmarnock
Set in the grounds of a 14th century castle which is accessible to the public for daily tours, Dean Castle Country Park is 200 acres of woodland walks, adventure playground and urban farm (featuring kune kune pigs, fallow deer, llamas and highland cattle), with a tearoom and shop on site as well.
Eglinton Country Park, Kilwinning
Set in the grounds of the old Eglinton Castle Estate, Eglinton Country Park covers 400 hectares of parkland and forest. Its facilities include plenty of walking paths, horse-riding paths, cycle routes, permit fishing in the park’s loch and birdwatching opportunities around the same area. There’s also a modern play area for all ages and abilities.
Kelburn Castle and Country Park, Fairlie near Largs
Well known for its bohemian July music festival and the bright graffiti which fills an entire wall of the castle set within its grounds, Kelburn Estate can be found on the coastal road south out of Largs. Its hillside setting incorporates forest walks, grassland on which animals graze and a scenic glen, while activities include the Secret Forest wooded maze and outdoor laser tag.
Loch Doon, Dalmellington
Three miles from the town of Dalmellington and about seven miles in length, Loch Doon has varied terrain around its shores which make it a popular spot for all manner of day trippers. There are riverside walks and hills and corbetts which are accessible from the shore, contributing to the fantastic scenery, while there’s also a café next to the hydroelectric dam and the new Scottish Dark Sky Observatory is also nearby.
Isle of Cumbrae
Also known as Great Cumbrae, despite only being four miles long, the Isle of Cumbrae is easily reached by ferry from Largs and is most well-known as the location of the west coast resort town Millport. Its coastline is renowned amongst visitors who enjoy walking or cycling to favoured spots, while other attractions include museums, the Cathedral of the Isles and the National Watersports Centre.
Kildonan Shore, Isle of Arran
Set near the village of Kildonan on the remote southern tip of the Isle of Arran, the shore at Kildonan boasts one of the few sandy beaches on the island, as well as views of the islands of Pladda and Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast which are worth making the journey for.
Brodick Castle and Country Park, Isle of Arran
A Victorian estate whose central castle is packed full of period features, Brodick Country Park is the only island-based country park in Britain, featuring terraced gardens, woodland walks and a walled garden in its grounds, and great views of the Ayrshire coast and nearby Goatfell mountain.
Culzean Castle and Country Park, Maybole
One of the grandest and most striking historic buildings in Scotland, the Robert Adam designed Culzean Castle sits atop a clifftop overlooking the Firth of Clyde, and is set in 600 acres of woodland, clifftop walks, caves, beaches and destination spots like the ice houses and the pagoda.
Barassie Beach, Troon
Set just north of Troon harbour and close to the town, Barassie beach is big enough to go for a walk on and is popular with relaxing families too. There’s a kids’ playpark nearby and it’s a well-used spot by kitesurfers and windsurfers.