A cheap day-trip to Ayr

After booking our day-trip to Glasgow, a promotion for a day-trip to Ayr popped up: £16 for the four of us instead of the usual “cheap-rate” of £40 (or £30 if you book in the Stenaline offices). I’ve passed through Ayr a number of times over the years but never stopped to look around so I hadn’t a clue what there was to see there but at £16 you can’t really go wrong, so we booked it.

As with all day-trips involving any kind of boat or plane, there’s an early start. In this case, you’ve to be there no later than 7am and, of course, allowing for parking and whatnot that really means more like 6.45am. The ship doesn’t depart ’til 7.30 but the cheap trips over the holiday period are very popular so there was quite a line to checkin and it was quite a crowded trip. Arrival in Cairnryan is a little before 10am.

The ship was the quite nice Superfast, although with the trip taking almost 2.5 hours, it didn’t seem that fast. Food in the restaurant isn’t cheap but the prices aren’t too over the top. It’s best to grab a seat as soon as you get on as the available seats are taken up really quickly on the more crowded crossings. There’s the usual arcade games and small cinema (aimed mainly at the kids) with a spa along with assorted treatments for the adults. They’ve a small number of suites (for up to five people) which, at £20, might be worth it after a tiring day though, of course, you’ll only have use of it for a couple of hours.

The two coaches should have been setting off not much after 10 with arrival in Ayr scheduled for 11.15am. However, in practice, the coaches waited around for no apparent reason so we didn’t get into Ayr until more like 11.45 which, together with an earlier than scheduled departure shortened our time there by quite a bit. The coaches are listed as dropping off at the Burns statue but actually drop off near the Stagecoach bus station. That doesn’t really make a lot of difference if you’re only walking around the town but if you want to take a side-trip it is handier to be beside the bus station.

What’s to see? It’s a fairly pretty seaside town with lots of Georgian architecture, quite a number of bridges and a reasonable number of fairly historic buildings (mostly converted to new uses). The narrow streets are quite pleasant to stroll around. On the beach there’s a large childrens’ playground (which could do with a fair bit of maintenance) with an adjoining indoor children’s entertainment centre (about £5 for two hours, depending on age, weekday/weekend/holiday).

Slightly outside the town there are:

  1. The Robert Burns museum,  which you can get to easily enough by bus. It costs about £20 for a family and seems to include quite a bit to interest for a couple of hours.
  2. The Heads of Ayr Farm Park, seems to have something for everyone and seems easy enough to get to by bus. You’d need to allow a fair chunk of the day to get best value (about £40 for a family).

Catering-wise, the town is well served with lots of decent quality but fairly cheap restaurants all around the town.

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