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Living in Ayrshire: The Local Area Guide

Ayrshire is a coastal county in western Scotland made up of North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, and East Ayrshire. In total, it has a population of just over 360,000.

Ayshire's coast, along the Firth of Clyde, is a well-known attraction for hikers and ramblers thanks to its beautiful views and rugged natural formations. The peaceful natural wonderland found today, though, is belied by the county's relatively bloody history, which began with disagreements between the Romans and the native inhabitants of Scotland. This continued with English - and even Viking - invaders over the centuries and Ayrshire has several historical sites to show for it. Foremost of these is Turnberry Castle, which has been suggested was the birthplace of Robert the Bruce.

Ayrshire has always been divided into three - these divisions used to be called 'baileries'. Cunninghame was the northern most, and best suited for agriculture thanks to its fertile and flat land, while Kyle lay contained the mountains in the middle and Carrick, formed of wild hills and pastures, was in the south.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Ayrshire was fairly heavily industrialised, with coal mining and steel making becoming very important to the local economy. Agriculture was also strong, and this remains so today. Other employers include the Johnnie Walker whisky distillery and the aviation industry surrounding Prestwick airport.

Demographics

There have been some fairly famous people either hailing from or living in Ayshire, including famous politicians of the ages, such as Robert the Bruce or the current First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

Demographically, the age profile of the county is slightly over that of the rest of Scotland. 10% of people are over 75 and nearly 1 in 5 are over 65. Roughly 64% are of working age and 18% are children under the age of 16. There has been a very slow rate of population growth since the turn of the millennium.

Two thirds of households in Ayrshire have less than 3 people, and only 16% contain 4 or more. Joblessness is a little over the average for the rest of the country at greater than 6%, compared with 5.8% for Scotland as a whole, and 5.2% for the rest of Great Britain.

Education

Ayrshire has plenty of schools serving the local families and there is a lot of choice for selective parents. The county town, Ayr, is particularly well served, being the largest town in Ayrshire. It has a pair of nurseries, and fifteen primary schools which then feed into four secondary schools: Kyle Academy, Queen Margaret Academy, Belmont Academy, and Ayr Academy.

Ayr also has four establishments offering further and higher education: the University of the West of Scotland, Scotland's Rural College, Ayrshire College, and the Adult Learning Centre.

Transport

The M77 runs from Glasgow in the north down past Kilmarnock, where it turns into the A77 and continues to Ayr. The total drive time between Ayr and Glasgow is about 50 minutes, and the two roads act as primary arteries.

The county as a whole is easily traversable by car along the A road network. The A70, A71, A76, and A87 are particularly prominent.

For those not fancying travelling by car, rail travel is also good, with links in all major towns. And for trips further afield, Glasgow Prestwick Airport is close by and provides connections to the rest of the UK and into Europe.

Amenities and Shopping

The primary shopping destination in the county is the shopping centre in Ayr. It contains plenty of recognisable high street names, including Topshop, H&M, and Next. As well as this, it has some interesting specialist shops and artisanal outlets, as well as good restaurants.

More serious shoppers will find themselves drawn to Glasgow, which at less than an hour away is well-worth the trip for its variety.


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