Notes on the way
through Ayrshire - 100 years
SOUTH-WEST of Coylton.
The village of Dalrymple stands in a beautiful place on the north side
of Doon River, where it is crossed by a bridge, five miles south-by-east
of Ayr. It has a railway station about a mile aside, Established and
Free Churches, a public school, a post office, and grocer’s, shoemaker’s,
joiner’s, and blacksmith’s shops. Population in 1871, 309; in 1881,
305. It and its neighbourhood are an interesting study as
the scene of Burns’ school days, in the intervals of farm labour, from
his seventh to his thirteenth year, and as the home of the theme of his
first poetic effusion, Kelly
Kilpatrick, the blacksmith’s daughter.
" Handsome Nell," a ‘I bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass,"
her fourteenth year, was his partner on the harvest rig. The tones of
her voice made his "heart-strings thrill like an eolian harp,"
an" he there and then, at the age of fifteen, hurst into song in her
praise, and was a great poet :-" She dresses aye sac clean and
neat, Both dwent and gentel : And then there’s something in her
gait Gars any dress look Weel. "A gwdy dress and gentle air
slightly touch the heart, But it’s innocence and modesty That polishes
" ‘Tis this in
Nellp pleases me, ‘Tis this
enchants my soul ; For absolutely in my breast She reigns without
Well done, Nelly! you
doubtless were as good stuff as you were handsome and sweet voiced, and
did not fail to shear your part of the rig. A walk around with Nelly in
ones eye discloses that another such "bonnie, sweet, sonsie
lass" may still be seen here, and only wants another such poet to
make her "innocence and modesty" a heart-felt example to the
fair world forever. The same Nelly and Bob appear as characters in the
poem of Hallowe’en.
About half-a-mile up the river from the village is
Barbieston House, a mile farther is Skeldon house, and fully
half-a-mile above that is the manufactory of Skeldon Mills.
Haughs" is the title of a tale in Scotch verse by Sir Alexander
Boswell. Less than half-a-mile ’ above
the mills is Hollybush House, near to which is a railway station, and one
mile and a half north of which is Martnaham Loch, with half of its long length in the parish, and containing a small
island in the middle, with the ruins of an ancient castle on it, and some
woods about it. Other lochs are glancing not far off. Ancient camps are at
Lindston and Woodlands.
The surface of the
parish is mostly arable, except in the south-east,, and is very beautiful,
with numerous hillocks, haughs, and clumps of plantation. The coal
measures underlie the rising ground in the south-east.