Tam O Shanter Trail

The resort town of Ayr is the scene for our odyssey with Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns. The Tam ‘O’ Shanter trail is a walking tour that allows you to re-trace the journey taken Tam as immortalised in Burn’s epic poem as the places referenced in the work are real and still exist today (even if there might be cause to doubt the existence of evil witches hanging around the graveyard!)

In many respects Burns, a ploughman, is an unlikely candidate for a literary great, but his style is unique and compelling. His most famous work tells of the perils of Tam O Shanter, who having spent the evening drinking at the inn, then departed for home on his mare, Meg. We retrace the poem to the point where he came upon a coven of witches at Alloway Kirk who proceeded to chase Tam. Our hero realising that witches can’t cross water makes for ‘Brig a Doon’ bridge and narrowly evades them. Poor Meg is less fortunate in that her tail was set alight and singed.

All the landmarks in the poem exist, and the walking tour neatly finishes at the Burns museum where you will be able to reference other works. After completing, we retrace our steps back to the inn from where Tam set out, which should hopefully be open by lunch. What better place if you haven’t already tried it, then to eat a plate of haggis. Burns did of course write an address to a Haggis! which is recited on ‘Burns night’ as thousands of Scots tuck into the national dish in January

The Tam O Shanter bridge (Brig-o-Doon) at Alloway

Photo by Andy Muir CC by SA 2.0 through Flickr
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The Tam O Shanter trail can be tackled independently with a guidebook, but it is one of the few day-trips where we tend to advise you consider joining a knowledgeable guided party. Someone who is an authority on Burns can bring the story to life by effortlessly reciting his works. Put simply, we couldn’t! although we know people who can