Arran 'Scotland in miniature'

With a 65 mile circular coastal road, 2 roads crossing the island, ‘hail and ride’ buses and bicycle hire in Brodick, Arran is arguably one of the easiest Scottish islands to explore, wander round and simply just enjoy.  It’s known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ due to its beautiful contrasting scenery between the north and the south of the island resembling the mainland, and is a year round destination.  There’s so much to see and do whatever your interests and is only a short ferry journey from either Ardrossan to Brodick (55 minutes) , Troon to Brodick (1hr 20 mins) or Claonaig to Lochranza (30 minutes).

Lagg Distillery Arran

Beverages

With 2 award winning sister distilleries (Lagg and Lochranza), 2 breweries (award winning Isle of Arran at Cladach and Seagate at Lamlash), and Arran gin and creme de cassis (Arran Botanical Drinks at Cladach), with a bit of planning and use of the ‘hail and ride’ buses, taxis or designated driver you could be sampling the local beverages whilst seeing the stunning Arran scenery.  Maybe even enjoying a signature cocktail at Arran Botanical Drinks’ beach bar, Cladach Beach House, and you heard about the new Lagg distillery orchard cider?

Lochranza castle Arran

Castles

As for castles well Arran hasn’t got 1 but 3.  Brodick, the main castle has just undergone 2 years of extensive works and you could now be exploring the inside of the castle, as well as the extensive grounds including the Isle Be Wild adventure play area.

In the north you could be walking round the outside of Lochranza castle where red deer are often seen, or closer to the cottage glimpsing the ruins of Kildonan castle, now in a private garden.  If you’re interested in fortifications there’s also the site of the old Viking Fort at Kingscross.

Craft Fairs on Arran and local knitting groups

crafting

Arran is such a friendly place, there’s craft markets (often with refreshments), in the village halls for you to explore throughout the Summer and other occasions during the year.  If you enjoy knitting or crocheting then why not pick up some hand dyed wool on Arran (Bay Wool & Crafts) or join in and have a blether with locals at the ‘Knit & Blether’ at Bay Wool & Crafts (Whiting Bay), or ‘Knittery Nattery’ at Kilmory village hall

Eco Savvy signs, Brodick water refill and Bay Stores eco friendly unpackaged food dispensers.

Eco friendly island

Why not visit Eco Savvy (selling new eco friendly products and second hand items in Whiting Bay), Bay Stores (grocery shop selling zero waste refillable products and local fresh produce) and ARCAS (charity fund raising shop selling second hand items in Brodick).   You never know what you’ll find to buy and re-home.  Many shops also have a sign enabling you to refill water bottles for free, and there’s also the blue Scottish Water top up tap down at the shore in Brodick.

Arran coastal way views and Glen Rosa.

Flat (Low level) walks

If you like flattish walks then you could be walking sections of the Arran coastal way.  With a bit of planning you could always walk a section, stop for lunch then get the ‘hail and ride’ bus back.  Or how about forestry walks, a walk to Machrie Standing Stones or the beautiful walk into Glen Rosa? Perhaps returning via the forestry track taking you back near the Wineport at Cladach for lunch?

Dishes available on Arran from Mara, Old Pier cafe, Old Byre and Arran Simply Thai.

foodies

On Arran there’s so many lovely places to eat (majority dog friendly).  Personal favourites are Mara (seafood at Corrie), Arran Simply Thai (weekend Thai takeaway or eat outside at Kildonan), Little Rock (cafe and deli at Brodick), Janie’s (great soups, sandwiches and cakes at Home Farm), Old Pier cafe (incredible vegetarian sausage rolls at Lamlash), Cafe Thyme at the Old Byre (wonderful cullen skink and turkish breads at Machrie), the Forest of the Falls cafe (great burgers and soups at Eas Mor) and the Douglas Hotel bar (handy for the ferry at Brodick).

Golf Courses

If you’re a golfer then you’re in luck as Arran is home to 7 beautiful golf courses located in Brodick, Corrie (Sannox), Lamlash, Lochranza, Machrie, Shiskine and Whiting Bay.  Imagine playing courses with stunning views out to the Kintyre peninsula, or with Goatfell in the background.  There’s the Arran Golf Pass which offers great savings if you’re intending to play all courses, and of course several have tea rooms ideal for the pre course lunch or just tea and cake.  

Views from Goatfell on Arran.

Hill walking

If hill walking’s your thing then Goat Fell (874 metres) is definitely a must, followed by the other 3 Corbetts Cir Mhor, Caisteal Abhail and Beinn Tarsuinn.  You may also enjoy the annual Goatfell Hill Race and the annual Arran Mountain Festival, ideal for those who’d like to enjoy the hills as part of a small group.  Or you could take to the hills with your very own local mountain leaders Lucy and Wally Wallace.

Honesty boxes on Arran including honey, the bakehouse, Honesty Box and Woodside Farm in Brodick.

Honesty boxes

What better way to support local businesses than buying local.  Throughout the year you’ll find honesty boxes over Arran including at Clachaig Farm by Lagg (selling seasonal vegetables, eggs and meat), Shiskine and Lochranza (honey), Blackwaterfoot Bakehouse (bread, cakes and pastries) and there’s the large Woodside Farm honesty box (eggs and seasonal vegetables) just by the bicycle hire in Brodick.  There’s even one inside the Kilmory village hall (tinned and packaged food items), and the recently opened honesty box at Cnocanreoch Farm by Torrylinn beach (handmade goat’s milk soap).  We’ve also recently introduced a craft honesty box in the cottage where, for a small donation, you can buy handmade cards, gift tags etc, with all money raised going to a local charity.

Arranach, MacKenzie leather, Bay Wool & Crafts, Janelles and Arran Sense of Scotland.

Retail therapy

You’ll probably see most of the shops while exploring Arran, however there’s always a few worth a special mention.  Bay Wool & Crafts in Whiting Bay (all locally made gifts), Janelles in Lamlash (interior design gift shop, also sells beautiful pictures of Arran), Arran Sense of Scotland (Arran Aromatics), MacKenzie Leather at Cladach (leather bags handmade on site, belts and wallets) and Arranach (whisky barrel furniture and small household items) at Machrie.

Common seals, Red deer, dolphin and badger.

Wildlife

Interested in seeing Scotland’s “Big Five”, then Arran’s the place to be.  On Arran there are common seals, golden eagles, otters, red deer and  red squirrels.  If you’re a bird watcher then Arran has a healthy population of many birds including buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks, hen harriers, short eared owls, peregrine and as mentioned golden eagles.  Not to mention dolphins and otters, and you may even see a badger.  You could go wildlife watching with experienced local guide Lucy Wallace.