I went to Arran in June 2010, and despite only being a train and a ferry away, it felt like another country! It's often described as 'Scotland in Miniature', and I can see why - there are beautiful open spaces coupled with amazing mountains, and (understandably) you are never particularly far from a beautiful beach.
This review will mainly talk about Brodick, as it's where I stayed.
Travel from Glasgow via public transport is through a train from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan Harbour. Just in case you didn't pay attention to the announcements, note that there are 3 Ardrossan stations - you want the last one! The station itself is boring and industrial but only a stone's throw away from the ferry. The ferry takes just under an hour and is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. It's nice enough, there are plenty of places to sit about and for the seasick, you can go outside onto a deck with lots of chairs and get yourself some fresh air.
One tip - when they announce they are just arriving at the harbour, don't bother standing up. I stood up as soon as I thought I was supposed to and ended up very crushed up against a lot of people waiting to get out for ten minutes.
Brodick was where I was staying, in the Glenartney B&B. Brodick itself is nice, not actually the biggest population-wise on the island (I think that goes to Lamlash) but it has the most going on, and also has the big Co-op, only 5 minutes from the ferry.
Shops included a Post Office, two Co-ops (one very small), a strange alternative shop full of incense sticks and Buddha statues which was very nice, a chocolate shop and many more.
I actually wouldn't recommend staying at the Glenartney. Don't get me wrong - the owners were lovely and welcoming, the rooms were pleasant enough, the rate was fair and the breakfast was nice. I just felt like a child being there, with all the rules (quiet after 11pm, no smoking even in the garden, careful what you flush, don't turn off the extractor). The rules were all completely fair but they seemed like common sense and I felt a little babied having to be reminded that I need to be quiet at night for the other residents. However, if you can blank that feeling out, it's a lovely place to stay in, and well situated for the rest of Brodick.
Restaurants and Pubs
Unfortunately I can't remember all the names, but I visited a few restaurants and pubs in Brodick. There was a Chinese restaurant which was definitely not to my taste. Food was lukewarm and weirdly chewy, the place was empty apart from us, we were seated at a bad table despite being the only customers, and the staff more or less ignored us the whole way through. I would avoid this one!
Mac's bar was nice, made me feel a bit like I was back home in Glasgow - quite dark, pub quiz machine, football was on - it didn't feel like it was appealing to tourists, but in a good way.
The Eileen Mor was definitely my favourite. Staff were lovely, food was great and it was a brilliant atmosphere.
Places to visit
Arran Aromatics is a lovely shop full of bath and beauty products. You could easily spend a fortune in here but also you could find some bargains at the back of the shop in a basket.
Brodick Castle - never went inside, as entrance fees were a bit much, but we accidentally bypassed the entrance (not sure how as we were supposed to pay to go into the grounds but we missed it somehow) and the grounds are nice.
The beaches were gorgeous, and there was a route through the golf course that took you to a brilliant one which was mainly empty except for a dog walker or two. Definitely worth trying to find.
All in all - I'd LOVE to go back, and I'm planning a return visit for next year!
The Isle of Arran!
If you have read some of my previous reviews you will know that I have been to the wonderfully beautiful Isle of Arran. I went there on a geology field study residential trip in november, which is a very cold time to go there but Scotland is nearly always cold.. wet....windy! I went for a week and I stayed at the Loch Ranza field study centre.
*Travel - going there*
We went on a coach from Manchester to Adrossen harbour, the total travel time was just under five hours! Which does not include the time in the motor way services in Kilmarnock. Then we arrived at Adrossen harbour at about two o'clock after setting off at just before nine. At the harbour the Caledonian McBride ferry was already pulled up, and we boarded the ferry - but we boarded the ferry through the ramp to the car section on the ferry as the boarding ramp was not working!
We recieved the ferry boarding tickets which were only about £10 for a one way ticket to the island. The ferry was very cute (such a girly thing to say) but it was! It had a little shop selling Scotish aromatics, shortbread, cheeses, magazines and little souveniers which are great for small children. They also have a cafe with reasonable prices, they have a observation lounge and for the adults they have a bar on the ferry! I have not had a very good experience with ferries - a sickly incident on a ferry to Ireland! But I was very happy, it was not very 'rocky' and the journey from Adrossen to the harbour at Broddick was only about an hour each way! You can walk out of the ferry, sit outside and look at the beautiful views of mainland Scotland, Arran and the small island close to Arran, called Holy island. Then we got a coach to the field study centre from the main town (Broddick) which took about 45 minutes. On the coach trip to the centre we drove along the coast and I can't stress how beautiful the scenary is, we passed the grey seals which are really 'odd' looking as they stay in a concave shape for a long time, we also passed lots of red deer!
*Loch Ranza field study centre*
When we got to the centre we left our bags at the gate and went to our rooms, Me and my friend had to share a 'attic' room with three other girls, but we had a ensuite shower room which was really good! We then had dinner in the canteen which has really nice wholesome hearty food! And to my surprise they had a lot of options for vegetarians! There is a entertainment rooms with a pool table, tv, movie nights, table tennis, darts and a little shop! It is just so amazing! I want to go back!
*Other places in Arran I saw*
On the last day of the trip I had a really sore knee (I think I pulled a muscle) and with the really uneven terrian and the 6 hour walks I couldn't go on the last walk, which was quite upsetting but me and my tutor went to the castle at Loch Ranza and the whiskey distillery, which was so nice! The castle was so beautiful with Loch Ranza bay next to it and the Mull of Kintyre in the distance!
And then the distillery which is about a 20 minute walk away from the field study centre and at first we didn't know if it was open or not as there are not any signs out side, but only the shop was open and I absolutly LOVE it! The distillery smells so nice, even though I don't like whiskey. And the shop so really nice and has so many different products to buy, which include, Wooden spoons, original Arran aromatics, whiskey (loads of different types), glasses, chocolates, soft toys, postcards and tea!
I bought my mum a set of different teas, including, whiskey and heather flavoured teas! I had to buy my dad a set of for miniture whiskeys which he said were of a high quality and that they were very smooth - I don't know anything about about whiskey! They both loved their gifts!
During the week we were there they weather was really strong! The rivers almost flooded there banks and some of the activities had to be changed as the rivers were very fast and too dangerous to work in. But on the last day the rain stopped (almost) and the sun came out which was a pleasant change! It was also really quite windy. So I would recommend paying that bit extra to get the best outdoor clothing clothing you can as you will so need it. You will need a waterproof coat or you could use a ski jacket and thermal under wear. Also if you go in the colder months you may need some waterproof pants and a waterproof backpack. If you are doing any sketches or notes ou may also need a waterproof note book which is very useful!
*The local people*
We had to get the local bus one day which was quite odd as they only have one road around the outside of the island and one though the middle! The local people that we interacted with were very nice, although the bus driver went about 50 mph over the hills, which was quite scary as I don't even like rollercoasters! We also got on the school bus, which was actually a coach with about ten school children on! They are all very nice and friendly!
The Isle of Arran is so amazingly beautiful! I would really recommend goign to the Island it has loads of history, mystery and culture! The locals are so nice too and if you like walking, hiking, kyaking, extreme sports, bird watching and it is also a mecca for geologists and geographers! Amazing!
Thank you for reading my review, I hope it is helpful! :D
This is the only Scottish Island I have set foot on and every time I do it is worth it. The Isle Of Arran is where my father was born and his side of the family reside. As a kid I used to go there every year, sometimes twice a year. Unfortunately I don't get there as much now due to time commitments. It's really a poor excuse as it is not difficult to get there.
The Isle of Arran is situated off the West Coast of Scotland, part of North Ayrshire and has a population of 5000+. It is full of small villages, friendly locals and breathtaking scenery.
Getting to Arran is very simple and straightforward. A ferry crossing from Ardrossan Harbour to Brodick (Arrans main area) only takes around 55 minutes. The ferry is a large size and never feels overly crowded (unless it's the main holiday season). You can travel with or without car. Prices are around £5 single £10 5-day return for being a passenger only. A car single is £40 and 5-day return £56. Prices differ for motorcycles, caravans and trailers.
*What to do*
Arran has a massive history of golf. There are many 9 or 18 hole courses to choose from. If your not the golfing type, hiking is a great opportunity. Arran supplies some of the most scenic places in Scotland and on a clear day Goatfell is worth a trip. This is the highest point on the island at a height of 2,866ft.
Brodick Castle has a lot of history to it and hosts some excellently kept gardens that adults and kids alike would enjoy.
Other places of interest include Lochranza Castle and a Distillery not that far from the castle itself. Machrie Moor also has stone circles, evidence of ancient living.
There are many places to stay during your time on Arran. Brodick has a large range of guesthouses and there is also the Auchrannie House Hotel and Spa Resort. This is a fairly new building and includes sports facilites. Lamlash, nearby Brodick also has many places to stay. Check out VisitArran.net for contacts.
*What if you don't have a car*
There is one main road that circles the whole island and so getting lost is almost impossible if following the road. There is the choice of hiring bikes or taking the local bus service. Never used the bus service but I am told it is very regular and reliable.
Great holiday destination and well worth a visit at least once in your lifetime. Kids will enjoy the adventures of the hills and the open land. It's a hiker and golfers paradise.
Have you ever fancied a few days on a remote island with the gentle sound of the sea & the beauty of tropical trees & plants? A few days just to relax & completely unwind from the daily stress we all appear to endure. A tropical island in the Pacific Ocean perhaps? Actually no, this is a place not too far from home & at a fraction of the price. The Isle of Arran, official named 'Scotland in miniature'.
The Isle of Arran is situated in the Firth of Clyde & Kilbrannan Sound in the south west of Scotland. The east coast of the island is only 14 miles off the Ayrshire mainland, the north coast overlooks the island of Bute & the west coast looks over the Mull of Kintyre. Yes, the same place Paul McCartney made famous in his 1977 song & where he often retreats to his farm.
Hundreds of years ago Arran originally belonged to Norway & was sold to Scotland. There is a castle in the north at Lochranza originally built by the Vikings but the one you see today was built in the 14th/15th century to keep the Vikings out!!
One of the main attractions in Arran is the King's cave; one famous person who hid in these caves was Robert the Bruce. The famous story of how he watched a spider spinning his web encouraged him to go out to fight & drive the enemies out of Scotland took place in these caves.
Around 200 years ago the Duke of Hamilton who owned most of the land in Arran decided to increase the farmland & introduce more animals & as a result many people were forced to leave the island.
Today, the island has a road that follows almost the complete coast line with only two main roads crossing the island. One of these roads is called the String Road & was built by Thomas Telford. The other is named the Ross road.
At Brodick castle on the east coast, the castle dates back to the Viking period & one famous resident for a short time was Napoleon III.
You won't find any grey squirrels on the island, only red ones. The island has no foxes, stoats, weasels, moles, traffic lights, traffic wardens, roundabouts, speed cameras or Starbucks! It has very little street lighting & mobile phone reception isn't too good either.
However it does have a population of 4000 humans, 2000 red deer, golden eagles & an abundance of red squirrels.
When the government in Cyprus wanted to introduce potatoes to their country, they chose the Arran varieties. Arran also supplied sand to Saudi Arabia, apparently it is special sand used in their water filters!!
The local newspaper is called the Arran Banner, 98% of local people read it which is why it is listed in the Guinness book or records as no other newspaper in the world has such readership!
THE ISLAND TOUR
Look at the island as a clock face, when arriving from the mainland you'll enter via the ferry terminal at Brodick the principal town (3 o'clock) or via a smaller ferry port at Lochranza (12 o'clock).
The ferry from the mainland leaves from Ardrossan in Ayrshire, the distance is 14 miles & it takes about 55 minutes. You are advised to pre-book as it is a very busy run; a train runs from Glasgow to Ardrossan ferry port if you don't have a car. If you use the other ferry to Lochranza pre booking is not required & the crossing takes 30 minutes.
The complete circumference of the island is around 58 miles with the coast road covering most of it. Starting at Brodick you will enter via the ferry port where a regular bus service is available across from the ferry terminal building. There are no airports on the island although a water/air service from Glasgow is being discussed at present.
At the ferry terminal is a ferry booking office with toilets & across the road an information centre. Brodick has a main street with the sea, rocky & sandy beaches at one side & a row of small shops & restaurants at the other.
The shops include an Arran cheese shop, sheepskin shop selling Arran knitwear, gift shops & a Co-op supermarket at both ends of the town. A petrol station is located at the ferry terminal but be prepared to pay considerably more for fuel than on the mainland. The best advice is to fill up before you visit.
At one end of the town is the heritage museum showing visitors how life once was on this beautiful little island. There is also a golf course in Brodick.
As you travel south a mere three miles you come to Lamlash (4 o'clock), this was the location of a naval base during world war two when submarine crews were trained here. This little place is home to some really lovely homes many of which are painted white. Against the blue sky & green fields they look rather impressive. Lamlash overlooks Holy Island & a 15 minute ferry trip to the island is available from here. Lamlash also houses the police station, coast guard, small hospital, lifeboat station & fire station. It too has many gift shops, cafes & small restaurants. Before a Sunday morning service the local church will play tunes from its carillon bells.
In Lamlash cemetery behind the village high on the hill is the grave of Rev Colin Campbell who sadly died in 1882. It's next to the other members of his family except for his son Duglad who was the great grandfather of J.K.Rowling.
From Lamlash you head further south to Whiting Bay (5 o'clock), in its day steamers used to birth at Whiting Bay & at the time it had the longest pier in the River Clyde. Where the DIY shop is today used to be the main office at the pier.
This is a great place for walking to Glenashdale Falls, Kings Cross point & Giants Caves. Just like Lamlash it is a very quaint place with small gift shops & ample parking.
From here you travel south to Kildonan (6 o'clock), here is where you are likely to see the small island of Ailsa Craig, it's uninhabited except for birds & marks the half way point between Glasgow & Ireland. An unusual continental style house in Kildonan called Drimla Lodge sticks out like a sore thumb, this large house was built in 1901 for the Clark family, famous for the Clark shoes. The same family presented a bell to Kildonan church, when the church closed the bell was transferred to the village hall. The ruins of Kildonan castle are still present but you are advised to keep away from it as the area it is located on is very dangerous.
Kildonan also features a lovely sandy beach, a favourite with many families & one that isn't too crowded in the summer. It's not unusual to see a number of seals on the beach.
From here you travel west to Kilmory (7 o'clock), a lovely little village is located in a sheltered spot & features palm trees & the 200 year old Lagg Hotel. Arran's famous cheese is made close to here at the Arran creamery.
Travelling north west past Sliddery you eventually come to Blackwaterfoot (8 o'clock). This pleasant little place has a small harbour, hotel, shops & a post office. Walking along the shore line here will take you to the cliffs of Drumadoon. The cliffs are at the end of a lava flow from volcanic times. Here you are likely to see many birds including fulmars, gannets & the odd golfer from the nearby golf course.
A short distance from Blackwaterfoot is Shiskine, the only village in Arran that has no shore line. It's located on the string road which takes you across the island to Brodick.
Travelling north clockwise we then see Machrie (9 o'clock) & the Machrie Moor where stone circles are standing & have stood for around 4000 years. Heading further north past more rugged shoreline takes you to Pirnmill (10 o'clock). It got its name from the wood taken from the birch & beech trees planted locally & used for making pirns (bobbins) in mills outside Glasgow in the 19th century.
Further north you come to Catacol (11 o'clock) & you will see the twelve apostles. This is a row of twelve identical attached cottages with thirteen chimneys, one is a dummy. Only the upstairs windows are different, the story is that these cottages were used by fisherman's families in the 19th century. Whilst they were out fishing if a family member wanted to get a message to their men they would light up a lamp & place it on one of the upstairs windows. The shape of the window would relate to the message, personally I think using a mobile phone would have been easier!!!
From here the biggest attraction in the north of the island is Lochranza (12 o'clock) where the ferry port to the Mull of Kintyre is located. It is nothing unusual to see red deer wandering the streets, gardens & the beach during the day. You'll get pretty close to them for photographs as they are used to humans & barking dogs.
The locals find them a menace as they wander into your garden and will munch their way through your prized flowers & grass. This is why you'll see garden fences all over village.
The ruins of Lochranza castle are in the centre of the village & as you travel east you'll see the one & only distillery left in Arran. During the 19th century most whisky was produced illicitly to avoid paying taxes in Scotland. Arran reputedly made the finest whisky of all but in 1837 production ceased. A new distillery was opened in Lochranza in 1995, on the day in opened two eagles were circling above the mountain tops close to the distillery, this is considered a good omen.
Today you can take a tour, taste the goods & browse through the gift shop & buy the range of products on offer. Arran Gold is a malt whisky liqueur which last year won an international prize as the best whisky liqueur in the world. If you like Baileys you'll love this stuff.
From here you head south west & the road leaves the coast line for a short time. Stop off at the lay-bys & if you have binoculars with you look around & you'll almost guaranteed to see deer wandering around the dramatic mountain sides. Even in mid April snow on the mountain tops was still evident despite a warm sunny day.
I witnessed many deer including stags just wondering round quite close to the road side.
You soon come close to the coast line again as you head south towards Brodick. First village you will come to is Sannox (1 o'clock), there isn't much to see at first but there is a rather nice picnic area overlooking the sea & you will often see gannets diving for fish & even dolphins leaping around. Around here is a 'fallen rocks' trail where a landslide took place over 200 years ago.
A short distance from Sannox heading south is Corrie (2 o'clock), on that road you cannot fail to notice huge granite boulders at the side of the road that were brought down during the glaciers during the ice age.
Corrie has two delightful little harbours & the area features white washed cottages & neat gardens. On the harbour edge you can tie your boat or ship to model sheep but avoid using the black sheep as it is regarding as being bad luck.
The northern harbour is the home to a modern replica of a Viking ship but it wasn't there the week I visited.
I found a full sized model of a seal on one of the rocks on the Corrie shore line & a full sized model of a seagull close to the gift shops close by.
From Corrie you head back to Brodick & just before you enter the village you will see Brodick castle & grounds currently owned by the National Trust. You can visit the castle or just wander around the gardens; you can even take the dog as long as it's on a lead but you won't be able to access the castle with the dog or walled gardens.
If you want to see what the castle looks like have a look at a Scottish £20.00 note as it features on some of them. You can access Goat Fell from here.
All over Arran you are likely to see seals, otters, highland cattle, buzzards, red squirrels, red deer, porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks, eider ducks, cormorants, shags, kittiwakes, harriers, owls (in daylight), heron, eagles, loads of sheep & some humans.
A regular bus service serves the island & you can also use the post bus which can be picked up from the post office in the mornings & early afternoon, contact 01770 302507 for details.
The Isle of Arran is truly outstanding, a really beautiful location with rugged coastline on the west coast, lovely beaches, dramatic mountains & such a varied selection of wildlife. The residents are friendly & helpful & there is a general impression that everything goes at a much gentler pace than on the mainland. It's ideal if you have the car with you but travelling around Arran with a bicycle or on foot is just as pleasurable. The island is ideal should you visit it on a tight budget or if you wish to stay in luxury surroundings. The island features horse & pony trekking, quad bike driving, golf & many other outside activities. No matter if you are young or old you just can't help enjoying the place. The only downside would be the weather, it can be mild & comfortable in the west coast in spring & summer but in winter it can be very cold.
Arran comes highly recommended, a great place to spend a long weekend or just a few days.
Let's deal with the well known motto out of the way first: the Isle of Arran is, indeed, just like Scotland in miniature. The southern half is low lying and more agricultural; the northern half is mountainous and less populated, with majestic hills and valleys all easily accessible to tourists and visitors. And like Scotland, it's simply beautiful.
Arran is not a Hebridean Island, being in the Firth of Clyde. But that location is its greatest asset, since multiple sailings of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to and from Brodick on the island connect with trains to Glasgow Central station at Ardrossan Harbour. And if you live or are based in Glasgow, you can buy a discounted all inclusive day return ticket from any railway station in the Strathclyde area that includes train and ferry travel to the island, saving money on the total cost of the two bought separately. That's how I've come to know Arran, as an easy day out from Glasgow by train.
The ferry from Ardrossan will bring you to Brodick, a handy base for exploring. Buses on the island are timed around the ferry, and during the summer an additional open top service takes day trippers from the ferry the few miles out of town to Brodick Castle and Gardens (an absolute must see). You can also climb from there to the top of Goat Fell for stunning views across the island and Firth of Clyde. A number of local businesses, including soap, cheese and beer producers are clustered along the road to Brodick Castle, north of Brodick town, for tasteful and affordable souvenirs.
If you're staying a while on Arran, Brodick is also a convenient place to stock up on self catering supplies, with a large Co-Operative supermarket, petrol station, bank, post office and car rental office.
Navigating around the island is easy, with a single road completing a loop around the whole island. From Brodick you can turn north and make an anticlockwise circuit, or turn south and go clockwise. An additional route across the centre of the island allows for a shortcut between Brodick and Blackwaterfoot. Buses are regular, if not that frequent and increasingly expensive for visitors. Cycling is a popular way to see the island, although walking on roads is not particularly advisable since verges are tight and local traffic travels faster than you might expect.
Highlights for me include the partially ruined castle at Lochranza in the north-west of the island, and the secluded council run campsite at Sannox Bay. I'm not a walker or climber, but have heard great things about the numerous well signposted paths and routes across the north of the island. All capabilities are catered for; contact the tourist office in Brodick for suggested itineraries.
One word of warning, however. If you're visiting in the summer be prepared for midges! The shape of the island means you can often lose any breeze to disperse these pesky bugs, and if you're not adequatelty prepared with anti-midge cream, you will be eaten alive in the summer time! Take a tip from the locals, and invest in Avon brand 'Skin So Soft' moisturiser, which seems to be particularly good at keeping Arran midgies off your skin!
The Isle of Arran is situated off the West Coast of Scotland and forms a part of North Ayrshire. It is known as ?Scotland in Miniature? and is particularly picturesque during the winter months, when the sky is clear blue (it is sometimes you know!), and the hills of Arran are covered in Snow. I can see the Isle of Arran from my bedroom window, and it is visible from most of Ayrshire. I never tire of looking at it. The name Arran, means ?Peaked Island? in Gaelic. Getting There ----------------- Arran can be reached from the port of Ardrossan, and the crossing takes just under 1hr. The ferry is a reasonably large one, and can accommodate many cars. However if you are going for the day only, you are probably better to go as a foot passenger and rely on public transport around Arran, as this is relatively inexpensive whereas taking the car will set you back approximately £60 or so. If you go in summer, or on a public holiday, there will be large queues for boarding the last ferry back to the mainland, so make sure you arrive back to the terminal early, unless you don?t mind sleeping on the beach. Brodick --------- This is the main town on the Island and where the ferry lands. You can get about relatively easy on foot, although it will be about 2-3 miles walk to the Castle and Gardens, and further still to the point at Goat fell if you plan to make the ascent. The Castle itself dates back to the 13th century and it has great setting, with Goat fell as its backdrop. The property is a National Trust Scotland property, and if you have annual membership, then you save the £7 entry fee. The Gardens include a walled and woodland garden, and are internationally acclaimed. And of course there is a café for the obligatory cup of coffee and shortbread biscuit. If you fancy some more vigorous walking, then a climb of Goat Fell is a must, standing 955m above sea level. You will need to allow several hours to ascend and d
escend, but make sure you have a glass of Arran Ale as a treat once you have descended. Stop at Arran Brewery and try a bottle of Arran Blonde, perhaps enjoying it on the lawn outside. Other must visit places include Arran Aromatics, for fantastic toiletries, sample the cheeses from the Island Cheese Company, and visit the heritage museum. Oh and stop at the fudge shop on the left hand side as you walk to the castle area, and try the fudge with chili..it?s got a great kick! If it is Golf you are after, there are seven courses on Arran, including the 18 hoel Brodick course. Other courses include Lamlash and Lochranza, however Shiskine has got to be worth a round. This 12 hole course is par 42, and there are some challenging holes with great views. If you plan to stay longer, there are a plethora of small B & B establishments where you could stay, and the Visit Scotland website or call centre should be able to assist you. In the summer it is best to book early, so you don?t end up somewhere which is not of the standard you require. The Auchrannie Spa Resort is definitely worth trying, and is about 1.5 miles from the port, so an easy stroll. At Lochranza you can visit the Isle of Arran distillery centre and learn all about the making of whisky on the Island. To sum up, there are lots of attractions on Arran, and there should be something for everyone, but its also a great place to unwind and relax. Go over as a foot passenger, and hop on a bus around the Island. The coastal road is 60 miles in total, and with most of the action in Brodick, it is easy to find yourself a secluded corner for walking, fishing, bird watching, and relaxing. As this is Scotland?s most accessible Island, you cannot afford to miss out. Helen Bradshaw For Further reference visit www.arran.uk.com www.calmac.co.uk www.ayrshire-arran.com www.visitscotland.com
The Isle of Arran can be found in the Firth of Clyde on the south west coast of Scotland. Commonly described as ‘Scotland In Miniature’ at 56 miles all round, Arran is separated into its own Highland and Lowland areas and thereby offers a little of everything that Scotland provides, all compacted together into one island. The island is easily accessible being only an hour’s drive from Glasgow and a 55-minute Caledonian MacBrayne ferry crossing from Ardrossan Harbour. For those close by, Arran offers the chance for a great day out to soak up the relaxing island life. Having said this, Arran is a busy wee island, but amongst the business transport, farm vehicles, buses and tourist traffic the tranquil nature shines through. What gives Arran the attractive edge is its situation in the Gulf Stream which in turn often produces warmer sunnier weather than the mainland and allows palm trees to flourish. Many a time I’ve set out for Arran on a fairly gloomy morning and by the time I’ve reached Arran’s little haven the sun has already been warming up the island for hours. Although, it does have bad weather days, just not as many as everywhere else. Arran’s busiest spot is Brodick Bay and for obvious reasons; it is host to the main ferry terminal. On reaching Brodick, this is where the decisions are made. From here buses can be taken all over the island for the best way to see as much as possible in a day. Of course your car can be taken across in the ferry, but if only for a day trip then the cost is rather pricey. Brodick’s landscape of rough, high mountains are in stark contrast to the south of the island’s gentle sloping hills. One of Brodick’s main attractions is its Castle, which is National Trust owned. It features many works of art and memorabilia for those interested in its contents. But for the outdoors type the castle is situated in the middle of Arran’s
Country Park which includes formal gardens and country walks. Or if you’re mad like me you can run round the Castle’s adventure playground (and more importantly have a go on the Flying Fox), after sundown when it’s free; although fending off the murderous midges is a task in itself! The main road in Brodick offers a plethora of craft shops for tourists, and now boasts its own supermarket on the waterfront. A little further away from the buzz of the main road lies the beach with its own boathouse shop for gifts, ice creams and cycle hire. For those wishing to stay in Brodick there are many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and chip shops nearby to cater for tourists needs. However, if wishing to experience the quieter nature of Arran then there are many places to disappear off to. The east coast of the island is busier compared with the quieter west coast and inland areas, all of which are steeped in history and natural beauty. The best walks on Arran are in the mountainous area of the north with the famous ‘Goatfell’ towering above the island at 874’. It’s very hard not to take a photo of Arran without this mountain finding its way into the scene! At the northerly point of the island, Lochranza is another tranquil spot with its own castle (although a little more dilapidated). This was where I was lucky enough to see a school of dolphins arcing around very near the shore! Lochranza is the perfect backdrop for a range of watersports including windsurfing and sailing. Whereas the long golden beach of Kildonan at the most southerly tip, is an idyllic place to be. Further along the south west coast is Blackwaterfoot and from here can be found the King’s Caves. This is where the famous story of Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots took place, when he retreated to the caves to escape battle and watched a spider try and try again to weave a web after constant failure, until finall
y succeeding. He took the spider’s determination upon himself and thereafter had the courage to go back out to battle and defeat the English (mawhaawwwhhaaa!!). The photo opportunities to be found on Arran are plentiful. Whether you’re interested in picturesque scenery as a whole, the mountainous landscapes, sandy bays or wildlife, there is something for everyone. The Isle of Arran is one of the world’s special places offering its own blend of mystical atmosphere.