Continuing on from my short articles on Pitlochry and Easdale, next up is the beautiful island of Arran.
Arran is often called Scotland in miniature and this is true, with its highlands, lowlands, forests, glens and a beautiful coastline. Arran is a special place and many people fall in love with it and go back again and again.
Arran is just off the west coast of Scotland but east of the Mull of Kintyre. To get there you need to get a ferry from Ardossan which is just under an hour by car from central Glasgow. The ferry crossing only takes about an hour and takes you to the main settlement on the island – Brodick. All in all, this makes Arran the most accessible of the Scottish Islands and probably the only one you can really visit if you are taking a short break to Scotland from the south of England or further afield.
For accomodation there are numerous hotels and B&Bs but I’d recommend self-catering. The co-op supermarket in Brodick is big enough to furnish most supplies you would need and self-catering will give you the best freedom for exploring the Island.
Places to Visit
The main settlements to visit on the island are:
- Brodick – the ferry port and it has many places to stay and eat, as well as the largest supermarket on the island. Touristy things to do include Brodick Castle, Brodick Brewery and the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum.
- Lochranza – in the North of the island and also a small ferry port for journeys to and from Kintyre. Attractions here include the Isle of Arran Distillery and the ruined Lochranza Castle.
- Lamlash – the main residential settlement on the island with nice views across the bay but nothing particularly touristy to see.
Things to Do
There is plenty to do on the island, particularly if you enjoy nature. Some highlights include:
- Goatfell – the largest mountain on the island and also one of the most accessible, with clear routes available just to the North of Brodick
- The King’s Caves – near Blackwaterfoot on the west side of the island are the gorgeous King’s Caves. It takes a while to walk there from a nearby car park but it is worth the journey with lots of hollowed out caves on the beach.
- Glenashdale Falls – one of my favourite walks took us through a forest by a river and then eventually up to the gorgeous Glenashdale Falls. Again it is a bit of a walk to get there but it is worth it.
- The Holy Isle – we didn’t go there but you can get there by boat on the east side of Arran. Even if you don’t go though, the views across to it are pretty impressive.
- Arran Aromatics – Ok so it isn’t nature, but the Arran Aromatics shop on the road north between Brodick and Lochranza is worth visiting. You can also have a pretty impressive tour and create your own soap.
If you want gourmet dining, then Arran isn’t for you. If you just like good food though, then Arran has it in spades. A few highlights are:
- Cafe Thyme – a lovely cafe on the west side of the island near Machrie. We went her a couple of times and had a nice lunch and some cake. Very friendly and helpful staff with a great children’s play area and a few shops nearby as well. The best bit though are the clear views across to the West.
- The Sandwich Station – Near the ferry stop in the North of Lochranza is an unassuming shack that you wouldn’t think was one of the best sandwich places ever. We had some amazing sandwiches here and if you are anywhere near the North of the island around lunchtime, this is the place to go.
- The Lagg Hotel – The Lagg Hotel is a cosy little place on the South of the Island and I would recommend it for a rainy or cold day. We had a nice lunch here and dinner looked good as well.
Arran is a lovely island and a great and accessible place to experience a Scottish Island. Whether you are a couple on your own or a family with children, there is something for everyone. I hope you enjoy Arran as much as I have.