South West Scotland is a lowland region of Scotland, a triangle bounded to the west by the Firth of Clyde and to the south by the Solway Firth. It's mostly rural, but with a strip of resort towns along the Clyde coast and industry inland.
|Ayrshire & Arran |
Near 1 Ayr, the county town, is the birthplace of Robert Burns. The string of little resorts along the Clyde coast includes Largs (ferry port for the island of Great Cumbrae), West Kilbride, 2 Ardrossan & Saltcoats, 3 Troon, Ayr itself, and Girvan. Ardrossan is the ferry port for the 1 Isle of Arran, from where you can reach Holy Island. Boat trips run from Girvan to the bird sanctuary of 2 Ailsa Craig.
This is the upper valley of the Clyde, where the star attraction is New Lanark Mill near 4 Lanark. The mills and factories along the river are silent, often demolished, and its upper reaches are lonely valleys and moors.
|Dumfries and Galloway |
5 Stranraer is the ferry port for Northern Ireland, and along with 6 Drummore gives access to the scenic Rhins and Mull of Galloway. 7 Kirkcudbright and 8 Castle Douglas are two small towns along the Solway coast. Altogether more substantial is 9 Dumfries the county town, and base for exploring the area's castles and countryside. Further east are 10 Annan, and every eloping couples target 11 Gretna.
For Ayrshire the best option is usually 1 Glasgow Airport (GLA IATA) for its wide choice of flights, internationally and within UK. It's 8 miles west of the city so you drive straight onto the roads south-west. For Clydesdale consider using Edinburgh, and for Dumfries & Galloway you might also consider Newcastle or even Manchester.
Prestwick Airport (PIK IATA) is just north of Ayr so it's obviously closer, but has few flights. These are mostly Ryanair flights, many seasonal, to Med destinations such as Alicante, Barcelona, Malta, Pisa, Rome and Tenerife.
The northern part of this region is commuter-land for Glasgow, with frequent trains from Glasgow Central station. These lines stretch down the west coast as far as Stranraer.
The southern part, the Solway coast, is cut off by hills. Dumfries has direct trains every hour or two from Glasgow via Kilmarnock and New Cumnock but has better services to Carlisle via Annan and Gretna Green.
Being near Northern Ireland, there are a number of ferry routes into the south west of Scotland. There are typically at least two sailings a day and a single passenger ticket costs from around £25 to £40, depending on the time of year. Taking a car on the ferry costs from £70, again depending on the time of year and ticket type.
The ferry operators regularly have special offers and online discounts, so check all of the websites before booking.
- P&O Irish Sea - Ferry timetables and ticket sales from Larne to Troon and Cairnryan.
- Stena Line - Ferry timetables and ticket sales from Belfast to Cairnryan.
- East to the Scottish Borders
- North to the Central Belt
- South to North West England
- West across the North Channel to Northern Ireland