Towns and villages across East Ayrshire made an impression onscreen recently after featuring in the BBC programme Grand Tours of Scotland’s Rivers.

The history of places such as the old mining village of Glenbuck, Muirkirk and Catrine took centre stage in the riveting programme presented by historian and avid traveller, Paul Murton, exploring the River Ayr and all its gems.

In the half-hour episode, which aired on December 15, Paul meets informative characters including Barbara Alexander, niece of Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly who is committed to preserving Glenbuck’s heritage, and Mark Callan of Kays Scotland in Mauchline, the world-famous company which has made curling stones for every single Winter Olympic games.

Paul begins his journey at Glenbuck Loch, the official start of the River Ayr, which he remarks is “really rather lovely”.

Summarising the lost village’s past, Paul explains how “despite hardships endured by the good folk of Glenbuck, or perhaps because of them, many youngsters sought to find a way out and some did magnificently well through the game of football.”

Speaking to Barbara on the importance of football to the mining community, and particularly to her late uncle Bill, she explains: “Eighty-five people played with the [Glenbuck] Cherrypickers and 53 played professionally. Two of them went to Tottenham Hotspur.

“Bill Shankly was a genuine man. He didn’t want to go down the pits. He had to go down the pits for financial reasons he knew he wanted to be a football player.”

Paul then travels to Muirkirk where he discovers how a local man illuminated the cities of the world with gas lighting, and follows the river downstream to Catrine where “once mighty mill wheels turned” and the Ballochmyle Viaduct still inspires an awe-inspiring reaction.

Following the line of the old railway to Mauchline, Paul learns, too, how the town made famous by Scots poet Robert Burns also boasts another claim to fame - being one of only two companies in the world to produce curling stones approved by the World Curling Federation.

Describing how workers bring granite ashore from Ailsa Craig to make the stones, Mark of Kays Scotland reveals: “It’s an operation, to be honest. We normally go once every 10 years because there’s a fair amount of expense but the last time we went was 2013 until recently when we went in November 2020.

“The reason for going a little bit earlier is because the game is growing so much that we needed more granite.”

Catch up on BBC iPlayer now.