Glasgow-Ayr-Stranraer

See the landscape that inspired Robert Burns – stop off for the museum, castles, golf, or a ferry to Belfast.

This Great Scenic Rail Journey takes you south along the west coast, with views over the sea to Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran.

The train goes right to the heart of Burns country: stop off in Ayr to find out more about Scotland’s favourite poet at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Troon is famous for its golf and excellent fish and chips – while the sheltered port town of Stranraer makes an ideal base to explore the remoter corners of Dumfries and Galloway.

Journey time

Highlights

Look out for

  • Knockdolian, known as False Ailsa because of its striking resemblance to Ailsa Craig, the seabird colony just off the coast. Watch out for it between Girvan and Barrhill
  • The remains of Glenluce Abbey, just before Stranraer, that date back to 1192
  • Baltersan Castle, a classic 16th century tower with a distinctive profile just south of Maybole

Consider stopping at

  • Irvine – for a visit to the Scottish Maritime Museum
  • Troon – for a round of golf at Royal Troon, a regular host course for the Open Championship
  • Ayr – for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
  • Maybole – to visit the magnificent Culzean Castle, four miles away on the coast

The route: south to Stranraer...

Leaving Glasgow Central station, the train sweeps south west past three lochs - Castle Semple, Barr and Kilbirnie - to the coastal towns of Irvine and Troon.

The train calls at Ayr, where you can visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, or take a stroll along the beach. At Girvan look west for views of the striking island bird sanctuary Ailsa Craig – home to 36,000 pairs of gannets – before you turn inland to Barrhill.

At its highest point at Chirmorie, keep an eye out for Merrick, the tallest mountain in southern Scotland - before the route drops down towards Glenluce, the valley of light.

From there on it’s the final stretch to Stranraer, at the foot of Loch Ryan, with the whole peninsula of the Rhins of Galloway.

Tickets to Stranraer

Travelling to Belfast?

From Ayr, take the rail and sail coach link to Cairnryan for the Stena Line ferry to Belfast. There are up to six sailings a day and you can buy a ticket through from any station in Scotland to Belfast.

Buy a Rail & Sail to Belfast

  • Spirit of Scotland Travel pass: 1-2 weeks of train, ferry and coach travel covering the whole country
  • ​Rail & Sail: combine train and ferry travel into one ticket for more convenience and better value
  • Kids Go Free: travel off-peak and up to two children aged 5-15 can travel free with each adult