How to travel Ayrshire and Arran in a campervan with a dog

My Grandfather, Papa, grew up in Ayr. Before the war he played for Ayr United Football Club, but like most men after World War II he didn’t play again and moved south to England for work. That didn’t stop him being a proud Scot who often talked about where he grew up.

Hanging on the wall of his home was a framed carving of the Old Bridges of Ayr. I was always captured by the artwork, it looked mystical, romantic, a snapshot from a different time. When he told me the bridges were made for two maiden sisters who saw their lovers drown in the river, it only deepen the intrigue for me. After he passed away my Grandmother gave me the carving of the bridges to remember him by.

There was no way I was going to Scotland without visiting Ayr, but I didn’t count on the beauty surrounding the city and how quickly I would fall in love with it all. It felt like coming home. It felt like coming home to him, my Papa.


Roads to Take

Walks to Hike

Jenny’s Burn Galloway Forest

I didn’t mean to walk Jenny’s Burn, I had planned to hike the Loch Trool trail but I wasn’t paying attention, missed a turn and found myself doing a rather brutal hike around the hills. I didn’t realise this at the time of course. Every corner I turned I kept thinking “Now I will see the Loch.” I never saw the Loch…

I knew things were bad when Dougie, a Jack Russell, started to lag behind so eventually I retraced my steps and enjoyed the Loch from the comfort of the campervan along its shore. It wasn’t a complete loss, the views were still amazing.

Lang Scots Mile Ayr

Up until the 1700s, a ‘mile’ in Scotland was always longer than an English mile. A Scots mile was believed to average 1,984 yards while an English mile was around 200 yards shorter at 1,760 yards. Thanks to Robert Burns this fact became well known in his poem Tam O’Shanter and in 2002 Ayrshire Council created a Lang Scots Mile along the Ayrshire coast. It was a windy, brisk walk along the seafront.

King’s Cave, Isle of Arran

King Bruce is believed to have landed on the Isle of Arran before heading onto the mainland to reclaim his throne. Battered, bruised and desperate the King tool refuge in a cave where he watched a spider struggle to make a web during a storm. The spider didn’t give up and just kept spinning until, finally, his web was finished. Bruce, inspired, went on to defeat the English in battle.

The King’s Cave and several smaller caves along the shore all have incredible Celtic artwork on the walls. I confess that I didn’t like the King Cave at all. It was dark, spooky and my fear of bats kicked in (I have no idea if there are bats in the cave!) so I was there for a second before running out.

Arran Coastal Way Sannox to Lochranza

This was by far my favourite walk of all my travels to date. I had wild camped at the Forest Commission car park right on the sea front outside Sannox and planned to walk to the ‘Fallen Stones.’ Arran is well known for it’s geology and I had become quite obsessed capturing the quirky rocks.

I enjoyed the walk so much I decided to keep going. It was 9 miles of heaven. The path follows the north coast of arran towards Lochranza. I passed red deer, saw an eagle soar above the hills, a seal swimming, salt mine ruins, a fairy cottage and boulder fields. I stopped for lunch in a cave, where I couldn’t quite believe life was just this wonderful.

The route is relatively flat but the boulder fields are tricky to navigate and make sure you check the bus timetable before you leave as there is not very many buses, so be warned!

Dog-friendly Attractions

Lochranza Castle, Isle of Arran

At the top of the Lochranza sits a classic L-planned tower but looking closer we can see that it’s been redeveloped from a much earlier medieval hall-house. In 1306 Lochranza Castle is said to have been the spot at which Robert the Bruce landed on his return from Ireland, en route to his successful bid for the Scottish Crown.

Cafe next to Whiting Bay Garage

I can’t remember the name of this cafe and I can’t seem to find it online either, but this super cafe next to the car garage on Whiting Bay was the only dog-friendly cafe on the island I found. It’s so dog-friendly Dougie got 3 treats from complete strangers and his own water bowl. He was happy and so I was I.


Where to Stay

I wild camped around this section of Scotland following the seven principles of leave no trace. If you are thinking of travelling in a campervan around this area then I would highly recommend the app Park 4 the Night and your gut. Enjoy it!