A visit to Ayrshire is a visit to King Robert The Bruce country.

And with the Netflix film Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine, reigniting interest in Bruce, it is time to celebrate one of Scotland’s great military heroes right on his home turf.

Visit Bruce’s birthplace at Turnberry Castle

The Herald:

The film shows Bruce at his birthplace and family home, Turnberry Castle. Unfortunately it is no longer a standing castle – Bruce himself destroyed it when he feared King Edward 1 would gift it to an English nobleman. But the ruins, in a commanding position overlooking the sea, evoke a sense of the turbulence of 14th century life. The hefty portcullis groove can still be seen in the gatepost and those brave enough can scramble over to the “murder hole” which would have been used to pelt rocks or flaming oil onto unwelcome visitors.

Today the location is the very essence of peace and tranquillity. The famous lighthouse nearby has been converted into a luxury guest suite and halfway house for the Trump Turnberry golf resort. Relax over a cup of tea or stay overnight and soak in the same views that would have inspired the young Bruce as he considered his next move.

Click here to book your stay at Trump Turnberry. 

Visit the battle site of Loudoun Hill

The Herald:

The dramatic conclusion of the film is the bloody battle of Loudoun Hill, at which Bruce’s forces took on an army under the command of Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke.

The hill itself, an ancient volcanic plug embedded into land near the village of Darvel, looks the same today as it would have done on the day of battle.   Even the A71 approach road follows the route of an old Roman road which is likely to have been used by Bruce’s men.

Despite being outnumbered during the Battle of Loudoun Hill - Bruce had mustered around 600 men, de Valence had around 3,000 - he outsmarted his opponent and won.

The grassy plain south of the hill was chosen by Bruce for the battle as it presented an area about 500 metres wide, bound by difficult boggy land. The English king’s troops were forced into a narrow channel leading to the readied spears of Bruce’s men.

It was a turning point in Bruce’s fortunes, bolstering the strategic skills he employed to even greater effect during his victory over “Proud Edward’s army” at Bannockburn seven years later – the story of which is now immortalised in the song Flower of Scotland.

There is a memorial at the site to an earlier battle led by William Wallace … but historians now believe this to be a mistake. Today you can take the walk to the trig point at top to enjoy stunning views over Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, the Firth of Clyde and Arran

Park just off the A71 at the Spirit of Scotland car park (KA17 0LU). 

Release your inner medieval warrior

The Herald:

There are few things that will make you feel more like a Scottish fugitive hero than galloping on horseback across the bay, or firing an arrow and hearing that satisfying “thwak” as it hits the target.

Turnberry Adventures offers everyone the chance to release their inner warrior and reconnect with ancient skills that have remained almost unchanged for centuries.

Mount your noble steed and breathe in the fresh air of freedom on a horse riding experience at Bruce’s family seat. Take a trek through secluded woodlands, or set off across the sandy bay and feel the wind in your hair.

Or learn the skills and etiquette of archery - silence the noise of daily hassles and battles around you as you set the bow and arrow carefully and focus all your thoughts on the target.

Go alone and channel the spirit of the great Robert the Bruce, or take the family for an unforgettable adventure together.

Click here to find out more or call 01655333993 to book. 

Visit the castle of Bruce’s ally

The Herald:

Photo credit: Paul Tomkins

Sir Robert Boyd was gifted the lands near Kilmarnock for his bravery and services during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The castle itself dates from a little after the reign of Robert The Bruce, but it gives a flavour of medieval life in Scotland. The defensive fortress, which has two-metre thick walls, is set out in a four-floor formation. The ground floor had no access to the outside and the first floor housed the great hall; above that was the sleeping chamber; and on the top floor were apartments for the archers who patrolled the battlements.

The inside of the castle is closed but a visit to the grounds offers a great day with woodland trails, paddocks of ponies and sheep, a play area, visitor centre and café.

Dean Castle & Country Park website.

Click here to find out more about the Dick Institute.

Play the King Robert The Bruce golf course.

The Herald:

Developed in honour of the great Scottish hero on whose historic land it resides, the King Robert The Bruce golf course has only been open for about a year but has already gained international attention. After the extensive redesign of the second course at Turnberry, carried out by renowned designer Martin Ebert, it was named Best New Course, GB and Ireland by Square Mile, and Renovation Of The Year by Golf.com. The eighth as ninth holes in particular are regarding as being among the best in the world … the views to the lighthouse, across the water to Kintyre and out towards Ailsa Craig are breathtaking. The main concern may be focusing on the game! You may not be guaranteed to play like a hero … but the pros at the Golf Academy are always available to help with that.

King Robert The Bruce may not have played there himself but he did open it in a spectacular ribbon cutting ceremony using his Great Sword!

Click here to find out more or call 01655334032 to book a tee time.