Robert Burns’ romantic riverside haunt to woo public
It is where Robert Burns is said to have swapped bibles with his love Highland Mary in a commitment to marry.
Now the romantic site by the flowing waters of the Ayr at Failford, South Ayrshire, is to open up to the wider public given a new investment in the area’s heritage.
Walkers will be able to tread in the footsteps of the couple following a £1,500 grant to improve access along an ancient path through Ayr Gorge Woodlands.
It is among these trees that the poet and Highland Mary, christened Mary Campbell, are said to have spent time during their romance with the couple reputedly becoming ‘engaged’ here in 1786.
The couple reportedly planned to emigrate to Jamaica together but the romance came to a sudden and tragic end when Campbell died of a fever, possibly just weeks after first meeting.
Colin Clark, the chairman of community group South Ayrshire Paths, said: “We’re all eager to restore a significant part of Ayrshire’s history, so we were delighted to be awarded the grant from Paths for All to help us do this.
“The route is incredibly scenic and can be enjoyed in all seasons. It’s our hope that restoring features like the deteriorated wooden steps and installing new way-markers will make the path accessible to more walkers.”
Work on improving the path through this piece of Burn’s Country will be finished in February.
Burns is said to have fallen for Highland Mary after Jean Armour was moved to Paisley by her father in March 1786 after announcing she was expecting Burns’ baby.
Burns met Campbell while she was working in service at the former Montgomerie Castle, which was later destroyed by fire.
A monument to Highland Mary sits at Failford in recognition of the woman’s impact on Burns’ creative output.
In 1792, Burns wrote the poem Highland Mary with Highland Lassie 0 and To Mary in Heaven also thought to have been inspired by her although some experts have played down her influence on the poet.