This anniversary we were once again visiting an island but not Anglesey, we were going to Scotland for the first time since our honeymoon up in Fort William 15 years ago and this was to be our first visit to Arran. We made good time up the motorways into Scotland and arrived at Ardrossan far, far to early so had a quick walk round the ferry terminal while waiting for our crossing.
The crossing on the ‘MV Isle of Arran’ was uneventful which is always a bonus and it wasn’t long until we could see Arran through the haze. We quickly disembarked at Brodick and did a quick trip round the local Co-op for the weeks supplies, possibly the coldest shop in the world… On to Hamilton House Cottages, Shiskine on the west of the isle where we were staying in Rosa Cottage which, much to our relief, was every bit as good as we hoped. After the drive we were both a bit too drained for anything too strenuous so after a quick trip to Blackwaterfoot, the local village, to locate the ubiquitous ‘village shop’ and the pub we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing.
The following day, Sunday, we got up late for a change but still managed a short run, looping round the back road to Blackwaterfoot, over the small bridge, past the hotel and back up to the cottage. Up… Arran does seem to have a lot of ‘up’ and after a leisurely lunch we found a bit more on a lovely walk up to Ballygowan Fort which was only a few miles from the cottage. The weather was kind to us and we were treated to some fantastic views of the Isle, Kilbrannon Sound to the west and the Kintyre peninsula further into the distance.
Monday dawned with the weather a bit murky but very warm so we made our way over to the east side of the isle where we explored Brodick and the surrounding area. I think we managed to visit every supplier of all things ‘Arran’ including the Chocolate factory on the front where we bought a few chocolaty snacks, The Arran brewery (bought beer), Arran Aromatics, The Arran Cheese shop (bought cheese) and Arran Active where we bought rucksacks. Lunch at Janies café which was next to Arran aromatics where we had excellent club sandwiches which were so big there wasn’t enough room for cake! after lunch we drove north round the coast to The Arran Distillery where we had a tour during which we saw a Golden Eagle and tasted some of the distilleries produce and unsurprisingly bought some Arran Single Malt and Arran Gold cream liqueur. We followed this visit by continuing west where we had to stop and take a few photos of the Red Deer that were on the green at Lochranza then after a quick visit to the castle made our way down the west coast back to Blackwaterfoot.
Tuesday started a bit misty where we were staying but as we got nearer to sea level at Brodick the weather cleared a little. It was still warm though and as we set off from the Auchrannie Resort car park for a morning run the coats were left in the car boot. Glen Cloy was beautiful as we ran up through the forest and we soon. Came out onto the Forestry Commission track, unfortunately that was as far as we could get because we were greeted with no entry signs saying that logging was in progress. A little disappointed we turned the run into a quick out and back, had a quick shower and lunch at the cottage then spend the afternoon exploring the Arrans’ southern coastline. The southern side is definitely less mountainous than the north but this is more than made up with some excellent views of Pladda and Ailsa Craig from the south of the island. We saw Otters in the sea at Kildonan and even managed a half recognisable photo as well as lots of seals then stopped at Lamlash for coffee and cake. Arran seem very fond of tea and cake shops, something we’re both keen to explore at every opportunity.
After locating Auchrannie Resort yesterday we went back after breakfast for a swim and to make use of the steam room / sauna. The facilities are excellent and very clean and it was great to let the hot air and steam relax a few tired muscles. In the afternoon we went for another local(ish) walk, this time onto Machrie Moor to check out the standing stones and stone circles which were a lot bigger than I imagined and quiet impressive.
The larger of the stones having stood as guardians of the moors for millennia, no-one quiet knowing what exactly they were for, I love a good mystery. The afternoons walk done we went into the tea and cake shop at Machrie Bay (I know… another one) for a great coffee and enormous slice of very very chocolaty cake… lovely.
Again the morning greeted us with a bit of weather that was neither one thing or the other but since when has a bit of weather ever stopped us doing anything. We went for a great walk up to Glenashdale Falls near Whiting Bay on the south east of the Isle. the views of the falls from the top were fantastic with some excellent viewing platforms built so you can get out of the gorge to have a proper look. We came back via the Forestry Commission track where we had lunch sat on some rocks overlooking the bay and Holy Island in the distance then made our way back down the track via the ‘Giants Graves’ to the car.
Our last full day today so we made the most of it starting with a circular walk through the forested area just north of Blackwaterfoot around Torr Righ (the hill of the king) to see Kings Cave, quiet impressive as far as caves go but still nothing special although the limestone deposited over the old graffiti was interesting and there were some great views of the Doon geographical inclusion.
We saw some tiny Goldcrests in the trees and some Eider out to sea which was very calm again, in fact it had been calm all week, probably due to the island being so protected by the mainland on almost all sides. A bit of swimming and sauna at Auchrannie Resort in the afternoon followed by coffee and a great hot fruit scone with jam and cream from the Cruize Brasserie finished of the days adventures nicely.
And then it was Saturday and time for our departure, after a quick coffee, a sausage and egg butty and a last look round the harbour at Brodick we took the larger of the CalMac ferries, the ‘MV Caledonian Isles’ back onto mainland Scotland.
Arran is a great place, and we found it very relaxing although the weather could have been a bit kinder as apparently it had been sunny at home. We will definitely come back, the mountains are spectacular, some of the trails are just begging to be run and there is chocolate cake everywhere…
Oh yes… we’ll definitely be back.