The west coast of Scotland has many famous sons, and no, we’re not talking about Donald Trump and his offspring. Yes, Trump does own the famous Turnberry golf course, but this part of the world, Ayrshire, with its rugged coastline and secluded beach is famous for other Scotsmen and women.
King of Scots Robert I, better known as Robert the Bruce, was born at Turnberry Castle, he defeated the English during the first war of Scottish independence, while poet Robert Burns, also known as the National Bard and the Bard of Ayrshire, is also a native as is Alexander Fleming, who credited with discovering penicillin. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also hails from Ayrshire.
So there’s quite a history to the area and it attracts tourists looking for peace and quiet away from the madding crowd. Or, golfers looking for some of the finest courses in the world.
Our visit took us to a mobile home site halfway between the small village of Turnberry and the town of Girvan, just a stone’s throw from the sea. The views from the site, operated by Park Holidays are spectacular with the iconic Ailsa Craig dominating the view. Described as a huge volcanic plug of rock, it sits in the Firth of Clyde, 12 miles from the mainland.
It is famous for its “blue hone” microgranite, quarried to make curling stones that feature in the Winter Olympics.
It was also a feature during coverage of previous Open golf championships, with cameras taking lingering shots of its brooding presence in the distance.
The site itself features a number of carvan styles and we were lucky enough to bag a bit of a bargain, with one of the lower grade ‘Bronze’ grade caravans costing us just £230 for the week.
An added bonus was that we were automatically upgraded to a range-topping eight-berth when we arrived.
Facilities are decent enough, with laundry, waste disposal, play areas, small shop and bar/restaurant available.
The Firth of Clyde waves lap onto the beach at Girvan, the ninth hole at Turnberry, St George’s Square in Glasgow an autumn sunset from the campsite and the brooding Ailsa Craig in the distance
The bar looks out over Ailsa Craig and hosts evening entertainment depending on what stage of the season you are there. It was still going reasonably well in late September.
There is plenty to see and do within the immediate area, particularly if you are a fan of ancient buildings with castles.
Further afield, Glasgow is less than 50 miles away and can be reached by rail if you have had enough of driving. It’s a beautiful city and well worth a visit, with Glasgow Central one of the most iconic railway stations in the UK.
More locally, there are golf courses everywhere with Turnberry just a couple of miles away, while other Open courses like Troon and Prestwick are just up the coastline.
The most picturesque of course is Turnberry with the iconic lighthouse, built by the family of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, in the middle of the course and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Public footpaths allow people to wander up the lighthouse and the runways which were used during the Second World War are still part of the course, although now unused.
Just next to the lighthouse, are the still visible ruins of Turnberry Castle, home of Robert the Bruce who defeated the English in battle. It is located between the 9th and 10th holes of the Championship Ailsa course.
Slightly further afield is Culzean Castle and Country Park is the perfect place for a family day out, while if you fancy a wee dram, a specialist whisky shop is nearby.
Turnberry itself offers some small beaches with rolling sand dunes and its flora, fauna and wildlife in general give the designation of Site of Special Scientifc Interest (SSSI), so well worth bringing our binoculars along. While Ailsa Craig still dominates here, further in the distance are the Isle of Arran.
While the site shop is small, carrying necessities, there is a boutique farm shop just down the road and for a more substantial shop in the small town of Girvan is about three miles away.
It’s a picturesque little town with a small harbour and a long promenade with access to beaches.
It hosts a large supermarket and the railway station for that trip to Glasgow.
We had postponed a foreign holiday and, given the huge rise in staycations during the pandemic, we were lucky to find somewhere as picturesque and relaxing. A first holiday in Scotland, definitely not the last
Park Holidays UK, a major group of 40-plus parks in England and Scotland. Due to the popularity of holiday home ownership, there are currently no plans to provide any letting facilities in 2022. However, says the company, it’s likely that some holiday home owners will wish to make their accommodation available for sub-letting next year – and by the end of December, details will be known and published on the company’s website (www.parkholidays.com).