Costumes and quilts at Dalgarven Mill

Something seemed to go wrong with the weather settings over Scotland this Easter – yes, four days of sunshine. Unheard of for a holiday weekend! We made the most of it to get out and about, and on Saturday visited Dalgarven Mill in Ayrshire which had been recommended to me as a good place to go. We weren’t disappointed, although given that its title is Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume, I was expecting something larger and more “official”. What we found was much better – a little gem.

There has been a mill on this site since 1203, with the current buildings dating from the 19th century – the water wheel has been restored and still turns. Until recently Dalgarven was family owned – it has now been passed to a trust, but the family still runs it and we met three generations on our visit. The granaries have three floors of exhibits with artefacts from rural trades of the past, room settings and a magnificent costume collection (most of which is in storage – Victorian costumes are currently on display.) I liked the informality of the information, telling us how items were obtained. For example, a knife grinder was purchased at auction and then, as is often the way of things, another was donated shortly afterwards. The kitchen cabinet in the pictures below belonged to an old lady who was so wedded to it, when she moved to modern accommodation she made her family rip out the fitted kitchen and install the cabinet instead. There was also a temporary exhibition of beautiful quilts by Rosalie Furlong and, last but not least, a café. I had looked into other places to eat (there’s a hotel just down the road) because museum catering is not always great, but this was amazing; freshly cooked – and home baking to die for! You will note that didn’t last long enough to make it into the pictures.

Carrying on beyond the mill, a single track road with passing places takes you to the Blair Estate. This is private, so leave your car outside – however, walkers are welcome and it’s well worth a stroll round the grounds.

Finally, we took the long way home, dropping down to the coast for a walk on part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path at Portencross. We were just too late to get into the castle, but enjoyed the views in the late afternoon sunshine.