Leave the car at home!
Getting to Prestwick is easy with Glasgow Prestwick International Airport right on its doorstep! There are regular flights from various destinations in the UK and Europe (some services daily)
The main railway line connects you to Glasgow with a journey time of approx. 45 minutes (towards Ayr/Stranraer) and bus (X77) and car will take approximately 50 minutes.
Prestwick’s name comes from the Old English for priest’s farm: “preost” meaning “priest” and “wic” meaning “farm”. Robert the Bruce is reputed to have been cured of leprosy by the waters of the well at St Ninian’s church and the well still exists today behind the church.
Glasgow Prestwick International Airport opened in the 1930s. The airport was an important transatlantic gateway for over half a century. During World War II the US Air Force had a base at the airport, and Elvis Presley set foot there briefly (his only visit to the UK) in 1960, when his US Army transport aircraft stopped for refuelling.
We checked into The Hollies bed and breakfast (full review here). Which was perfectly situtated for the beach, transport and the main street – all being withing walking distance, and very nearly sight of each other!
Bedroom at The Hollies
After refreshing ourselves and learning about the area from the owner of The Hollies, we walked along to Elliots, along the main street. This is the go-to place in Prestwick with bar/restaurant and night club. Very popular with locals and visitors alike. Elliots (full review here)
After a hearty breakfast at The Hollies, we ventured out for a wander around the town, taking in the beach as well as the town centre itself. The Hollies has a rich history being the home of John Keppie of the Architects Honeyman and Keppie, the first employers of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
This map has some places of interest for you to follow:-
View What to see and do in Prestwick in a larger map
The lampost with base has a portrait of Robert Bryden It was presented to the town in 1904 as a gift from Matthew Smith, a town councillor. It originally sat at the cross where it served as a drinking fountain.
Site of the very first Open Golf Championships. More information can be found here.
Proper, traditional seaside takeaway with ice-cream and hot drinks.
Salt Pan Buildings
In these buildings salt was extracted from the sea water for curing and preserving food.
Situated next to St Ninian’s church, Robert The Bruce visited this well to drink its healing water to cure his skin disease.
St Ninian’s Church
Consecrated in 1926. More history on the church can be found here, with it’s connection to Bruce’s Well.
Opened in 1935 and closed in 1965. Designed by Alister G Macdonald, the son of Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald. This was originally the Broadway Cinema. The Scottish Cinema’s Website has more information.
Christian meeting hall.
Now a row of shops.
Prestwick Cross with the inscription “Prestwick Mercat Cross Rebuilt 1777”. Its original location was further into the road; it was moved to enable easier traffic movement. The Post Office behind dates from 1927. You will also pass the Red Lion bar, which was the founding place in 1851 of the Golf Club of Ayrshire, the forerunner of Prestwick Golf Club.
Built in 1844 as a meeting place for the Freemen of Prestwick who owned the surrounding farmland.
Monkton and Prestwick North Parish Church
Dating from 1874 and featuring the work of local man John Keppie, who was the architect of the tower.
St Quivox R.C. Church
Built in 1932, with red and few windows. An imposing design.
St Nicholas Church and Kirkyard
Dating possibly from 1170. The kirkyard has some interesting gravestones with inscriptions of the deceased’s trade.
Full of history as well as some sea air we headed towards Murray’s for lunch, which had come recommended as the place for soup and cake.
Murray’s, 101 Main Street, Prestwick.
(Full review here) Heavenly cake and perfect home made soups. After our soup and cake, we decided we needed liquid refreshment. As you can see from the map above – as with eateries, somewhere to drink isn’t hard to find either, in fact we’ve heard that Prestwick is the place folk from Ayr go to for a good night out.
The latest addition to the scene, The Prestwick Pioneer, faced a bit of opposition before opening its doors as It’s a chain pub: a Wetherspoons. Regardless, it won the toss, it was clean and new-looking with real ale on draft, and as it was a sunny day the windows were opened right up to let some air in. It was also very busy so the locals couldn’t have been that against a cheap pub opening! Also, both male and female toilets are interesting!
After our drink stop we picked up a few bargains in the charity shops (of which there are quite a few) and picked up a few things for tea in the butchers. We also noted that the cricket club was holding a beer festival but inexplicably at the same time as CAMRA’s Scottish Real Ale Festival in Edinburgh.
We were sad to leave Prestwick after just one full day, with its beach, shops and nightlife we could safely have stayed a couple of days more – but with such a short journey time from Glasgow it’s easily visited again, whether it be a day trip or a weekend away.
Too late for this year, but one for next year’s diary is Prestfest, a yearly music festival which takes place in various locations around the town (including those mentioned above).