View towards Bennane Head, Ballantrae

Ballantrae, from Gaelic and meaning 'Town on the shore', is situated on Ballantrae Bay on the South Ayrshire coast, at the mouth of the River Stinchar. The village was a fishing Port and a favourite haunt of smugglers. The village gave its name to Robert Louis Stevenson's brooding novel the Master of Ballantrae, and may have been inspired by an incident in 1876 when the great writer was said to have been stoned by the residents of Ballantrae, who were apparently upset by his clothing.

The village of Ballantrae has a primary school, doctor’s surgery, hotel, bowling green, small harbour and a garden centre with tearoom. Set amidst delightful rural surroundings Ballantrae is approximately 12 miles south of Girvan and 16 miles north of the ferry port of Stranraer. It has links with the Kennedy family and there is a mausoleum for this family in the village. There is an abundance of bird life in and around the sea shores and the mouth of the river stinchar forms part of a nature reserve created to support a variety of terns.

Shopping around Ballantrae

Ballantrae itself has a Scotmid shop that offers a range of groceries, drink, newspapers and also acts as a post office. Girvan offers a variety of shops including an ASDA and a Boots. Stranraer offers a wider range of shops including Morrisons, LIDL, Tesco Express, Boots and WH Smiths. There are also a number of Farm shops in the local area and the closest of these is at Woodlands Farm on the A77 about 2 miles south of Girvan.

Garages/Petrol Stations

Shellknowe garage at Ballantrae has a small repair garage with 24/7 petrol and diesel pumps. The closest alternatives include several petrol stations in Stranraer (Morrisons, and BP) and an Esso petrol station in Girvan.

Tea Rooms/Cafes

Local tea rooms in Ballantrae include Thistles and Craigiemains Garden Centre (as well as the Kings Arms). There are a range of other places offering food during the day including Woodside Farm (2 miles south of Girvan) while both Girvan and Stranraer (and most other towns) offer a range of cafes and restaurants.


Ballantrae has a local Church and this is a linked charge of the Church of Scotland. This is closely supported by the rural church of St Colmon in the nearby village of Colmonell. Ballantrae Parich Church was built on its current site. More information ....

Hotels and Pubs

The Kings Arms in Ballantrae is a family run hotel that provides helpful and friendly service. It has a restaurant, lounge, vault and beer garden and offers a range of food throughout the day. Most local villages have a pub or hotel many offering food as well as drink. Examples include the Blue Peter at Kirkcolm, The Port Logan Inn at Port Logan (of 2,000 acres of Sky fame) and The Waterfront Hotel at Port Patrick. There is also Glenapp Castle, a prestigious hotel near Ballantrae.

Events this Week

This week sees the traditional Scottish Burns Night festivities. There are Burns Suppers, Alloway, on the fringe of Ayr, celebrates Burns life and there is a guided walk around Alloway on Jan 29th. More information ....


South Ayrshire has a number of ruined castles scattered across its boundaries the closest of which is Stinchar Castle at the south end of Ballantrae. At the foot of this ruin is the old bridge across the Stinchar. Care is needed here as both are in a sad state of repair and should be viewed from distance. Ballantrae and its surrounding districts have a wealth of history encompassing its fishing, farming and smuggling activities. The legend of the cannibal Sawney Bean and his family in the sixteenth century is worth investigating. Culzean Castle is claimed to be haunted.

Perhaps the most famous person from the region is the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Association with 'Rabbie' is claimed by a number of local towns and villages including Ayr and Alloway where there is a Burns Birthplace Museum, and Burns National Heritage Park.