Burns Country

Robert Burns

The poetry and songs of Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns, weave a fascinating trail through the Ayrshire countryside …..Auld Ayr wham ne’er a toun surpasses …..Alloway’s auld haunted Kirk …..Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon ….. The lass o’ Ballochmyle …. the familiar names aren’t places of the poet’s imagination, but real localities you can visit and feel that same atmosphere today.


A day tour can include a selection of the attractions suggested here and provides a good insight into Burns’ life; for the enthusiast 2 or 3 days would be required to visit all places of interest.


The poet was born here on 25th January 1759, in the thatched cottage built by his father. The cottage is open to the public and is preserved in period style. Nearby is the famous Brig O’ Doon.


The world famous poem Tam O’ Shanter immortalised farmer Douglas Graham (Tam O’ Shanter) and cobbler John Davidson (Souter Johnnie), who lived here in the 18th Century. Davidsons’ thatched cottage is now a National Trust property, containing Burnsania and tools of the cobbler’s craft. The graves of Tam and the Souter can be seen in the Churchyard. Burns studied at Hugh Rodgers school in 1775 – the schoolroom is now the lounge of the Shanter Hotel.


In 1780, Burns, his brother Gilbert, and five others formed themselves into a debating society known as The Batchelors’ Club. The building in which they met is now a National Trust property and contains many interesting artefacts.


A simple column on the banks of the River Ayr commemorates Robert Burns last parting in May 1786 from his mysterious and beloved Highland Mary Campbell, who died soon afterwards at Greenock before their planned emigration to Jamaica.


Burns lived near Mauchline at Mossgiel (still a working farm) from 1785, and it was here he ploughed up the mouse’s nest referred to in the poem ‘To a mouse’. The Burns House Museum was home to Burns and Jean Armour in 1788 before they departed Ayrshire for Dumfries, and their room has been restored to suggest their humble abode. The National Burns Memorial Tower houses an interpretation centre illustrating the poet’s life in Mauchline. In the Kirkyard are buried four of the poet’s children and many associates, including Holy Willie. Across the road is Poosie Nansies’ Inn where the Jolly beggars caroused, and along the street is the Loudoun Arms where Burns and friends met as a Reading Club (both are still open for custom).

A’The Airts

Many other places throughout Ayrshire and Dumfries are well worth visiting – Kilmarnock’s Auld High Kirk , Dean Castle and Kay Park Monument, Ayr’s Burns Statue and Tam O’ Shanter Pub, Irvine’s Burns Club museum, Glasgow Vennal museum and Porthead Tavern, Dumfries’ Robert Burns Centre, Ellisland Farm and the Burns mausoleum.