Ziggy and I packed ourselves into 4 days on Isle of Arran in Scotland in June. One of the great things about the Arran is that the islands it's not so big, even after only a couple of days on it, we could leave feeling like we had really seen it. This remote Island of the Clyde is a miniature of Scotland. It has mountains, standing stones, castles and small, modern whisky distillery. And It's really close the mainland and Central Belt. Here's our itinerary and guide of these places:
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Isle of Arran Ferry
We took a ferry to Arran with Caledonian MacBrayne from Ardrossan. It’s the biggest Scottish ferry operator who runs a passenger and car ferry service to the Scottish Islands. Our trip to Arran must be pre-booked if you’re going by car, and it usually takes around 55 minutes. That’s just enough to grab a coffee or a selection of hot and cold meals all freshly cooked onboard. There’s also an on-board shop, a bar and a huge selection of maps and leaflets for tourists.
We spend the entire 3 nights at Lamlash Bay Hotel, which is located in the central part of Lamlash, overlooking the beautiful Lamlash Bay and provides a fantastic view of the Holy Island. All rooms are lovely decorated, en-suite and free wifi is available throughout the hotel.
Weather and climate on the Isle of Arran
Temperatures are generally cool, averaging about 6 °C (43 °F) in January and 14 °C (57 °F) in July at sea level. The southern half of the island, being less mountainous, has a more favourable climate than the north, and the east coast is more sheltered from the prevailing winds than the west and south. We had quite nice weather when we've arrived. It's was warm 18 °C but bit windy.
It was mid-afternoon when we arrived so we only had time to check out a little of the north side of the island. We visited places like:
Kildonan Beach and Castle
This sandy beach is one of the most beautiful on the Isle of Arran. There were really nice views across the water to the Pladda lighthouse dating from the 1820'. Seals can also be spotted here basking on the rocks. Not far from here there a path to see the ruins of Kildonan Castle.
Watch out though, Kildonan can be easily missed by just staying on the main road that encircles Arran.
Machrie Moor Standing Stones
It is said that the central part of Arran has more stone circles per square meter than anywhere else in Scotland. In this area, you can find several ancient monuments like Machrie Moor Stone Circle. Machrie Moor date around 1800 to 1600 BC with evidence of much earlier use, even around Neolithic period. Their usage remains a mystery.
The String Road
There's a road on Arran, known as "The String Road" which climbs over the middle of the island from Brodick West to Blackwaterfoot. From here on a clear day, you can see right over to the Ayrshire. There's a lay-by and a viewpoint to admire te views - take a wide angled lens with you to make the most of the stunning scenery!
In the evening ... Taste of Arran Brewery
We finished the evening with a glass of the local ale, out of the huge selection we picked the two of the Isle of Arran brewery - Blonde and Sunset Premium Beers.
This short walk climbs up through a wooded glen to reach a viewing platform for the double cascade Glenashdale Falls, the finest waterfall on Arran. After that lovely spot, we followed the circular path that took us to...
... Giant’s Graves
These impressive stones are actually prehistoric horned galley graves with a central chamber. Situated on a ridge of 120 metres above the sea on a forest free hill overlooking Whiting Bay and Holy Island.
According to legend, Robert The Bruce was inspired to fight by watching a spider spinning its web and succeeding only on the seventh attempt to attach its thread. In the different version of the legend, he watched the spider in a cave known to this day as the King’s Cave, near Blackwaterfoot.
Imposing Lochranza Castle ruins lay by the shore of the small village with the same name. It was built in the 16th century as a hunting lodge for the Scottish Kings. This Historic Scotland site features some interesting panels which explain the purpose of different rooms and areas of the castle. Admission Free with a cool dark dungeon to investigate!
We left Lochranza heading towards Brodick on A841 and stopped to admire the breathtaking panoramic view over Caisteal Abhail which is is the most northern of the Arran Corbett, called the Sleeping Warrior due to an appearance of its outline. This surely was one of the highlights of our trip and Arran itself.
Don't miss out on any of Arran's local specialities. The island is famous for their locally crafted ales, Arran cheese, toiletries and whisky!
Goat Fell Climb
Goat Fell is the highest peak on the island and it remains visible through the hole of Ayrshire, Bute and Kintore. At 874m it is one of the four Corbetts of the island. The main path up the Goat Fell starts at the Brodick Castle and there’s a small fee to use the parking at the country park. The path starts going through the castle forests and goes up to the bare hills providing great views over Brodick below. Time to reach the depends on your experience and may take up to 3 hours one way. Just before reaching the top path changes from solid ground to climbing on to quite high and steep rocks and wind picks up. We found that to be the hardest part of the climb but reaching the top and its views are a reward for all the efforts.
This viewpoint offers a great view across the water to Lamlash, Holy Island and the Goatfell range. Here also lies another Iron Age fort known locally as the "Viking Fort". According to the local legend, this is the site where Robert the Bruce mistook farmers' fires on the mainland as the signal to launch his campaign. This site was also the location of a Viking ship burial excavated in the earlier 20th century.
It’s a lovely, quiet village with small harbour, whitewashed cottages and gardens aflame with colour in the summer months.
In the North-east part of the island, there’s a car park and picnic site with stunning views over the mountains at the coast alongside North Sannox Burn which is a starting point to a few of the walking routes like one leading to the local viewpoint or Fallen Rocks, geological feature near North Sannox
Four days are surely not enough to see all the gems that this beautiful island has to offer. We did not manage to get on the boat cruise to Paddla Island due to the weather forecast and tides. We also never had time to discover Glen Rosa and Lamlash properly, the very same place where we stayed the whole duration of the trip. Our schedule was extremely tight each day and we came home tired each night. We would strongly recommend to visit amazing Arran if you get a chance. We will definitely be back. This place surely did cast a magical spell onto us that will drove us back here soon.