Day Four - Ayrshire - Dean Castle & Culzean Castle

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Ardyne B&B at Rothesay was comfortable, and quiet at quiet that I thought the four of us were the only guests there and was surprised to see 8 or 9 people, including an infant, at breakfast downstairs the next morning.  The breakfast here was really good and towards the end of the meal, the cook-owner came out to chat with the customers.  

From the front step of the B&B there is a terrific 180-degree view out over the Firth of Clyde.    

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

front yard view  the Ardyne Guest House owner & breakfast chef Rothesay looks a little run down
CalMac crossing of the Firth of Clyde highlands, again

On the map below, look for Kilmarnock, where Dean Castle is, and for Maybole, south of Ayr, where Culzean Castle is located, and for Tarbolton, north-east of Ayr somewhat, where we stayed for the night. 

map of Ayrshire

Back on the mainland, we drove south along the coast, going inland to see Dean Castle, at Kilmarnock, knowing in advance it is undergoing a multi-year mainly internal restoration. You can still walk around the structure, now clad in scaffolding. 

The grounds were nice as was the visitor center.  Rich's wife has a Dean family connection. Some of her ancestors may have grown up here, or not...  

the Dean connection Dean Castle under repairs ditto tapestry in the Castle
- postcard photo  a County park surrounds the Castle the visitor center was open

After Dean Castle we drove south past Ayr & Alloway to Maybole & thence to Culzean Castle, one of the most visited Castles in Scotland.  The original buildings were renovated and expanded by Robert Adam, who spearheaded the neo-Palladian style in UK architecture during the late 1700s.  Culzean was constructed in the 1790s, and he didn't see it to completion, but his son did.    


Since around 1500, the London based Kennedy family held or earned the hereditary title of Earls of Cassillis and there was an early structure at Culzean since the 1600s. 

It was Thomas Kennedy of Culzean and 9th Earl of Cassillis who in the mid-1700s embarked on large scale improvements to the Castle and Estates.  Much of the ground floor was completed at that time.  David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis, commissioned Robt. Adam to make much needed improvements, and additions, as mentioned, in the 1790s.  (from the official brochure)  

The Castle is in a stunning natural setting, perched on a cliff above the Firth of Clyde.  The grounds are enormous, and the handout map shows at least three walking paths down to water level.  We didn't have the time to explore the scenery, nor was the weather conducive.         

a ruined arch & viaduct visitor entrance Culzean Castle note the palm trees in the landscaping what a setting ! 
  cotoneaster  clematis


huge gun display at the entry  
Docent in dining room great ceilings in the study great ceilings, continued...
  Isle of Arran across a wine- colored sea   elegant stairways  
a little portrait galley on 3rd floor landing   the hands ee note below
        Susanna, Countess of Eglinton
the best of the best last Q&A opportunity a cold & rainy day outside on the viaduct    

note - During WWII the Scottish Kennedy family re-arranged the top floor of Culzean Castle for the private use of Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, American Dwight Eisenhower, his family and close friends.  During the war Ike & family & friends vacationed here four times, in complete secrecy.  He later re-visited once out of fondness, as the American President. 

The Docent said when Eisenhower first used this Castle as a vacation spot, his tech team insisted that 39 new phone lines (from Ayr) be installed. Some vacation, no ?

The Eisenhower Hotel rooms are rented out these days and it's a highly recommended place to stay.  This is from Fodor's Travel: 

"It would be hard to imagine a more spectacular location for an overnight stay than the upper floor of Culzean Castle, which looks out towards (the Isle of) Arran and the Atlantic Ocean.  Pros:  beautiful setting, luxurious lodging, a strong sense of history.  Cons: a little remote, rather formal; not for minimalists."


After the Castle tour, we drove north into Ayr and had a 4:30 pm dinner at Chestnut's Hotel, a classy old place.  This is Robert Burns country, with his birthplace home & the main museum about him in Ayr, or Alloway, nearby & a short walk away from each other. 

But we didn't have the time to visit these places during today's moderate drive.  After dinner we headed up the hill on a rainy night's drive to a B&B 12 miles away & out in the country, at Tarbolton.  Turns out Tarbolton has a Robert Burns connection, which I learned about long after making the overnight reservation. 

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