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Travel: Sharpshooters are gunner love Moscow (the Ayrshire one)

Laird's Table, on the banks of the Lochan
Laird's Table, on the banks of the Lochan

As you turn off the A77 bound for Moscow (pronounced “moss-cow”), there is lush, green countryside everywhere you look.

Hard to believe it’s just 20 or so miles from Glasgow, so peaceful are the surroundings that it really does seem like the middle of nowhere.

The feeling of remoteness lingers as you reach the little-known East Ayrshire hamlet with a population of just 100 and discover the wifi signal is next to non-existent.

All the better, though, to unconditionally embrace the tranquillity of life here, free from the distractions of laptops and mobile phones.

Down a single-track driveway, on the banks of a trout loch, lies Cowans Law Country Sports Club.

After a warm welcome from staff, it’s straight on with the fun. Owner Jay Steel invites you to a briefing before you are swiftly handed a loaded gun!

What was I saying about tranquillity?

Don’t worry, though…you’re in safe hands here. Jay is a former world champion with more than 30 years’ experience, having represented Great Britain and Scotland at clay target shooting.

Helped by her expert tuition, I manage to surprise myself by hitting as many clays as I do. Could it just be beginner’s luck?

Laura takes aim

Fly fishing, quad biking and dog training are among the other outdoor pursuits on offer.

After a few hours of air rifling and clay shooting, it’s on to target archery.

A chat in the clubhouse with friendly club members follows, before the short drive to Craufurdland Castle.

Resting in the hands of the Craufurd clan for nearly eight centuries, the property is not open to the public (it is, however, available as a holiday let), but its grounds are well worth a visit.

Nor would you want to pass up the chance to dine at The Laird’s Table, still one of Ayrshire’s most talked about restaurants.

With picturesque surroundings on Craufurdland Lochan, not to mention superb dishes with locally-sourced ingredients, it’s easy to see why diners have flocked to the restaurant, run by current laird Simon Craufurd, since its opening last summer.

Sustainability lies at its core, with solar panels, menus on recycled paper, and wooden tables fashioned from a nearby horse-chestnut tree.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and castle artefacts adorning the walls, I quickly realise it’s somewhere special.

And that’s even before my delicious, prime-cut beefburger topped with pickles, tomato, garlic aioli and Scottish cheddar arrives with homemade slaw and chaat masala-spiced skinny fries.

After lunch, it’s back to Cowans Law. A wood-burning stove warms the spacious, three-bedroom Stag Lodge.

Stag Lodge

For a family or group of up to eight friends, this is the perfect getaway, but there are also two newly-built holiday lodges – the one-bed Mallard and the two-bed Pheasant. And there’s a planning application in the pipeline which, if approved, would add a further 14.

The Stag boasts views over the loch, an outdoor terrace, a beautiful open-plan dining kitchen with island unit and a lounge complete with exposed, wooden-beamed roof and mezzanine.

If you feel life is becoming a bit too hectic, and feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of work for a few days, Cowans Law is the perfect destination.

At night, as the stars twinkle, there is only the sound of silence, occasionally interrupted by lowing cattle.

Speaking of stars, Brad Pitt visited East Ayrshire with then-wife Angelina Jolie and their family in 2011 as he took a break from filming horror epic World War Z in Glasgow.

Jay looked after the Hollywood A-listers at a nearby country estate. So if you choose East Ayrshire you’ll be in very distinguished company…


A two-night weekend stay in Stag Lodge at Cowans Law is £450 (plus £50 service); a three-night stay is £600 (plus £50); or £1,380 (plus £50) for a week. A two-night weekend stay in Pheasant Lodge is £320 (plus £30); three nights is £480 (plus £30), or £1,070 (plus £30) per week.

If you opt to visit for an afternoon of country sports activities, clay shooting starts at £20 (10 targets). More prices can be found at or call 01560 700 666.