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The local area guide to living in Ayrshire

Ayrshire is a county on the west coast of Scotland with a population of around 360,000. Sitting on the Firth of Clyde, it has some famous landscapes and is highly popular with nature-loving travellers.

Historically, the county was the site of many battles and territorial disagreements between the Romans, Britons, English, and Scottish, with even Norwegian invaders turning up now and then. Turnberry Castle is a particularly important historic site and was possibly the birthplace of Robert the Bruce.

Ayrshire was originally divided into three 'baileries'. In the south was Carrick, which was largely wild hills and mosses. Kyle, in the middle, contained some mountainous areas and urban centres, while Cunninghame in the north was the flattest and best suited for agriculture.

For many years Ayrshire was highly industrialised, with coal mining and steel making of particular importance, although these have now declined. Johnnie Walker whisky is famously distilled in the area and the county is also home to Scotland's aviation industry, around Prestwick. Ayrshire also has a strong agricultural economy - it being a highly fertile area - growing potatoes, vegetables, and berries especially well.

Ayrshire's coast is well known for its beauty and is home to some breath-taking hiking, cycling, and riding trails, which attract large numbers of tourists.

Information about the local residents

63.5% of the population of the area are of working age (between 16 and 64) while 17.7% are children and 18.7% are of pensionable age, a slightly higher figure than that of the rest of Scotland. More than 10% are over 75, and the population has grown by about 0.6% since the 2001 census.

The area is remarkably ethnically homogenous, with nearly 99% of residents being white according to the latest census. Just under 60% of people in the county describe themselves as Christian, and 34% say they have no religion.

Nearly 70% of households have 1 or 2 people, and just 16% have 4 or more. Unemployment is relatively high at just over 6%, which compares to 5.8% for the rest of Scotland and 5.2% for Great Britain. Just over 2% of people are on out-of-work benefits, which is about in-line with the rest of Scotland. However, education rates are relatively high. 40% of people have achieved Level 4 qualifications or higher, which compares to 37.1% for Great Britain, and 60% have achieved level 3 or above.

Ayrshire has been home to some famous people. These include Robert the Bruce, Sir Alexander Fleming, inventor William Murdoch, and current leader of the SNP and First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

Nearby schools

Ayrshire has a large number of schools of varying set-ups, approaches, and policies. Ayr, the most populous town in the county, has a very large number of schools which makes it very attractive to families. It has two nurseries, fifteen primary schools, and four secondary schools, which are Ayr Academy, Belmont Academy, Kyle Academy, and Queen Margaret Academy. There are also four further education institutions: Ayrshire College, the University of the West of Scotland, Scotland's Rural College, and the Adult Learning Centre.

Ayr is also home to Wellington School, an independent day school founded in 1836.

Getting around

The main trunk road out of Ayrshire is the M77, which goes between Kilmarnock and Glasgow. Via this and the A77, a drive from Ayr to Glasgow takes less than an hour, making it a commutable distance.

Other major artery roads include the A71, A78, A76, and A70, which provide good links for motorists between the major settlements. Some of the roads along the coast, in particular, are quite beautiful.

There are also good rail links throughout the county as a result of its industrial past, and Glasgow Prestwick Airport offers domestic and European flights.

Local shops

As the largest town, Ayr is the main shopping destination for people not willing to go all the way to Glasgow. It has a major shopping centre which offers high street brands, including H&M, Next, Debenhams, and Topshop, as well as an array of good places to eat.

Throughout the towns and villages across the rest of the county are some well-respected independent shops selling artisan goods and local produce.

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