Day 14–June 30–Bus Tour of Ayreshire

We had planned for an all-day bus tour of Ayreshire, the county where both of our ancestors had started out. The two major stops on the tour were Culzean Castle and the various museums and monuments to the poet Robert Burns. Culzean Castle provides an excellent history of the late years of the monarchy and the landed gentry in England and Scotland. The tour’s time budget of about two and a half hours was enough time to tour the castle, the grounds and enjoy a reasonably leisurely lunch in the cafe.

We understood that summer in Scotland is about like a winter in Texas, and had packed for day-time temperatures as low as the high 40s. For the walks around the Culzean Castle grounds, I used the fleece pullover, wind breaker, wool hat, and fleece gloves that I had brought for cold days and I was not overly warm.

The grand entry to Culzean Castle is not as grand as some other estates; like most castles, it grew over time and the original site did not have room for the grand entry that would be built by a later generation.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle
The sandstone used in the castle and walls has weathered at dramatically different rates, giveing some visually interesting details to otherwise dull walls.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle
The entry path at Culzean Castle is the most interesting feature by far.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle

Day 13–June 29–Another Day at the Library

Today was another rainy day, and we really needed another day at the Mitchell Library, so we took the train in and spent another fruitful day at the library. I spent more time with guild records, and ended up reading a very interesting history of penal transportion to America before the revolution. Convicts were essentially slaves and conditions were so bad that second time offenders who had been previously transported to America would advocate for execution rather than another trip to America.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

On the way back to the Glasgow Central train station from the Mitchell Library, I noticed this van parked in a bike lane. Some things are universal.
Glasgow--Bad Parking

Day 11–June 27–Glasgow Mitchell Library

Today had originally been planned for a trip to Buke Island, but we woke up to rain, and decided to go the the library instead, followed by Wednesday at the library in Kilmarnock and Thursday or Saturday at Buke Island. It is only about a mile from Glasgow Central to the library, but there is quite a hill in between. According to Google Maps, we could have taken a bus, but due to schedules, walking was faster.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

The Glasgow Mitchell Library has a number of free terminals for access to Scotland’s People, which can save you a lot of money over the per-document costs of browsing from the U.S. Unfortunately, they fill up fast, so you really need to reserve them in advance. This is true of most of the libraries in Scotland. Since we had not planned to use the terminals, we were unable to get one.

The various guild records at the Mitchell can be an important part of your research. Through guild and birth records, I figured out much of the history of a William Logan, though I am not sure that he is THE William Logan that I'm researching. There are a variety of other records that are not online and are with the visit.

Day 12–June 28–Library in Kilmarnock

Kristin had planned to spend the day at the library in Kilmarnock to view some records held only there. I had planned to go, but had a cold and stayed back at our AirBnb instead. Kristin took the train in from Paisley to Glasgow Central and from there to Kilmarnock. Unfortunately, the archivist had not checked the catalogs closely when she responded to Kristin’s inquiry a few weeks before the trip; the record was actually on loan to another library. Kristin still had a fun if rainy outing.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

Kristin’s walk from the Kilmarnock train station to the library took her through a park where a wedding was being held; she thought the men wearing formal kilts was worth a photo.

Day 10–June 26–Day Trip to Stirling Castle

We got up early to take the train to Stirling to visit the Castle, and got there before some of the sites were open, but fortunately the castle opens at 9:30. We took a guided tour (they start every half hour) and then had tea before spending an hour or so in the exhibit for the carved medallions in the palace. This is definitely the portion of the castle where many will want to spend their time budget. The comparison of 17th Century and modern fashions was fascinating, as was the selection of clothing as a political statement as relevant today as then.

After lunch we went to catch a local bus to take us to the Wallace National Monument. In Stirling, there are two bus companies and the tickets are not interchangeable; the M buses only run once an hour which is important to know when allocating time at the tower. Do not miss the last bus (we did not). We took the shuttle up the hill to the tower and then climbed it–all 270-some steps. The view is incredible, and gives a good understanding of the Stirling Bridge battlefield.

At this point, our original plan of seeing the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies was clearly beyond hope, so we got tea, hopped a train back to Paisley via Glasgow Queens and Glasgow Central, had dinner at the same Italian restaurant near the Paisley train station, and walked home. Kristin’s Garmin said that she had walked 8.6 miles.

For planning trips in and around Glasgow, you will probably have to travel between Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queens train stations at least once. There are busses, you can walk or take a taxi. Taking a taxi and walking are probably about the same time, depending upon traffic. Taking the bus is the slowest. It is about a 10 minute walk and would be manageable with roller luggage; but you will need to use a cell-phone mapping program or have a map in hand, as there are a couple of turns that are not well marked.

Stirling Castle is part of the Explorer Pass.

Stirling Castle is well worth half a day. The cafe has a terrace that is a great place for a late lunch at the end of your visit to the castle.
Stirling--Stirling Castle
Allow ample time to tour the various rooms with medalion ceiling and the related displays describing the people and fashions depicted. For the history-minded, this is probably the place to allocate most of your time budget after taking the docent-led walking tour of the castle.
Stirling--Stirling Castle
Stirling--Stirling Castle
The view from the top of the Wallace National Monument is impressive, but it is fairly crowded and not a place for quiet contemplation as you recover from the climb.
Wallace National Monument
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