A Travellerspoint blog

Arran - Scotland in Miniature.

The Beautiful Isle of Arran.

Hiking

Hiking

The Isle of Arran.

Arran is one of my absolute favourite places in Scotland. I have been there four times. On my first visit I was still a child ­ about eleven or twelve years old. My parents took me and my sister to Arran on a week long bus tour. We had a very friendly driver called Donald and we visited everywhere on the island, plus took the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig and visited Campbeltown and Davaar Island. On that holiday our accommodation was in Brodick. I remember loving the peacefulness and safety of the island as well as all the greenery, open spaces and wild life. I did not want to leave.

On our second visit we went for a few days holiday again. This time I was with my husband and two friends we often travel with. We had accommodation in Whiting Bay. Our friends had brought their car with them, so again we were able to get around easily. We also did a bit of walking to enjoy the countryside. As the weather was fantastic on this visit, we even braved a swim in the sea, though I must admit that was freezing and brief.

On visit three we took my parents for a day trip to Arran and took the bus tour round the island. Visit four was this summer. Our friends had gone to Arran for a family holiday complete with their son and their dog and we went over for the day to visit them.

Arran is a magical place. It is known as Scotland in miniature as it has all the things Scotland has to offer squeezed into a smaller scale. There are mountains, glens, castles, ruined castles, beautiful coastline, islands off the coast, golf, fishing, hiking, sailing, religious retreats, wild deer, highland cattle, distilleries, breweries, cheese making factories, fishing villages and much more. Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde. It has an area of 432 square kilometres or 167 square miles, making it is the seventh largest Scottish island.

Arran has been continuously inhabited since the Neolithic period and has prehistoric remains such as standing stones, stone circles and stone cairns. The best place to visit these is on Machrie Moor. In the Bronze and Iron Ages Arran was part of the kingdom of Dalriada. Its Gaelic speaking inhabitants were ruled from Ireland. Christianity arrived on the island in the sixth century when Saint Brendan, patron saint of sailors, founded a monastery at Kilpatrick. Saint Columba is also believed to have visited Arran. Later his disciple Saint Molois found retreat in a cave on the Holy Isle. The Holy Isle is nowadays a centre of Buddhist Retreat. By 800 AD Arran was undergoing a long period of Viking domination. Viking domination ended with the Battle of Largs in 1263. In this battle the Scots under Alexander, the fourth Steward of Scotland, defeated the Vikings under Haakon of Norway. In the 1500’s the Hamiltons became the Earls of Arran and settled in Brodick Castle. All was not peaceful however and many power struggles ensued. In the nineteenth century the Highland Clearances caused massive depopulation of the island and marked the end of traditional island life.There is a monument to those who left in the clearances in Lamlash. Nowadays Arran has been revitalized and is a popular tourist destination.

Brodick.

Brodick is the largest town on Arran. It is Arran's main commercial centre and ferry port. Brodick boasts a lovely old castle with beautiful gardens. I visited this as a child, but do not have any recent photos. Brodick Castle was home to the Dukes of Hamilton. The gardens were created in 1923 by the Duchess of Montrose. Brodick also has hotels, restaurants, pubs. You might enjoy visiting the cheese shop and the Arran brewery in Cladach, Brodick.

Brodick

Brodick

Brodick

Brodick

Brodick

Brodick

Brodick Castle.

Brodick Castle is situated just outside Brodick at the base of Goatsfell. The castle's history dates back to the 13th century. It was used as a hunting lodge and summer residense by the Hamiltons and later by the Montroses. Brodick castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Like every self­ respecting Scottish castle, Brodick Castle is haunted. People have reported seeing a mysterious Grey Lady. She is believed to be the ghost of a plague victim who died at the castle. A strange man dressed in green and wearing a wig is believed to haunt the library. A lone white stag is rumoured to appear just before a member of the Hamilton family dies.

Brodick Castle

Brodick Castle

Goat Fell.

Goat Fell is the highest point on the Isle of Arran at 874 metres or 2,866 feet high.The mountain's name may mean Mountain of Wind if it derives from Gaelic; or Goat Mountain if it derives from Norse. Goat Fell is very popular with hikers. The most popular route up Goat Fell is a path which starts from near Brodick Castle in Cladach and leads up through the grounds of the castle. At just under 1,000 ft above sea level the path leaves the forest and continues over bare moorland until it reaches the summit by way of the mountain's east ridge. There are good views of Goat Fell from many parts of Arran including Brodick. Goat Fell is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland.

Although Arran is an extremely peaceful place, Goat Fell was the site of a horrific murder in July 1889. Englishman Edwin Rose aged 32 was found battered to death in a hut on Goat Fell. He had been climbing the mountain with Scotsman, John Laurie, aged 25. Laurie had disappeared from the scene and was later found in possession of some of Rose's belongings. Laurie was given a life sentence. He always maintained that Rose fell down the mountain and that he robbed him rather than killed him. No-­one knows for sure what really happened.

Goat Fell

Goat Fell

Goat Fell

Goat Fell

Lochranza.

Lochranza is a little village in the north west of Arran. It is home to about 200 people. It is located on the shores of a small sea loch called Loch Ranza. There is a regular ferry service from here to Claonaig on the mainland. Lochranza is the site of the Arran Distillery. This was built in 1995 and produces the Arran Single Malt. Lochranza has a beautiful ruined castle with a long and eventful history. Lochranza Castle dates from the thirteenth century. It was originally owned by the MacSween family. Then in 1262 King Alexander III gave the castle and its lands to Walter Stewart, the Earl of Menteith. By 1371, the castle was the property of Robert II and was used as a royal hunting lodge. In the 1490s James IV used the castle as a base from which he could fight the Lord of the Isles and the Clan MacDonald. In 1705 Lochranza Castle was purchased by the Hamilton family who also owned Brodick Castle. During the eighteenth century, the castle was abandoned and fell into ruins. The castle now belongs to Historic Scotland.

Lochranza is associated with several legends. One old legend claims that Robert the Bruce landed at Lochranza in 1306 when he returned from Ireland to claim the Scottish throne. Arran is one of the many places that claims to have the cave where Robert the Bruce watched the spider who would not give up. He drew inspiration from its persistence and it motivated him to keep battling the English. Lochranza is also associated with a fairy legend. One day a local midwife was gathering crops from the side of the loch when she suddenly spotted a large yellow frog. One of the women with the midwife wanted to to kill it, but for some reason, the midwife stopped her. The next day the midwife was working at the loch side again. Suddenly out of nowhere a young boy appeared. He was riding on a grey mare. He told the midwife that the yellow frog was really the queen of the fairies in disguise and that as she had saved her, she could have safe passage to the land of the fairies. The midwife mounted the horse and rode into the other world with the young boy where she became a midwife to the fairy queen.

Lochranza is mentioned in a poem written by Sir Walter Scott.

“On fair Lochranza streamed the early day,
Thin wreaths of cottage smoke are upward curl'd
From the lone hamlet, which her inland bay
And circling mountains sever from the world ”

Sir Walter Scott, The Lord of the Isle.

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

Lochranza

The Twelve Apostles At Catacol.

The lovely village of Catcol has a row of twelve fishermen's cottages. These are known as the twelve apostles. Each cottage has a different upper window from all the other houses. This enabled the fishermen's wives to place lights in the window and send signals to their husbands while they were out fishing. The men could tell exactly who was signalling them.

The Twelve Apostles At Catacol

The Twelve Apostles At Catacol

Village Of Lagg.

Lagg is a very small village on Arran. It consists of a few houses, a shop, a hotel and a post office. There are a couple of burial cairns here next to the river. The Lagg hotel is one of the oldest hotels on the Isle of Arran. It has been open since 1791.

Village Of Lagg

Village Of Lagg

The Holy Isle.

The Holy Isle is just off the east coast of Arran in Lamlash Bay. The island is 1.9 miles long and 0.6 miles wide. Its highest point is a hill called Mullach Mòr. The island has always been a sacred place and has a holy well with healing properties. Saint Molaise, a sixth century monk, lived as a hermit in a cave on this island. There is also evidence that a monastery was located here in the thirteenth century. It is believed that the Viking fleet sheltered between Arran and Holy Isle before the Battle of Largs. The Holy Isle is now owned by a Tibetan Buddhist organisation and runs retreats. Parts of the island are a nature reserve with Eriskay ponies ­ a gray coloured pony native to Scotland, Saanen goats ­- white or cream coloured goats originally from Switzerland and Soay sheep ­ - a primitive breed of domesticated sheep that are native to St Kilda. A very rare kind of tree known as the Rock Whitebeam tree can also be found here. A ferry service runs from Lamlash to the Holy Isle.

The Holy Isle

The Holy Isle

The Holy Isle

The Holy Isle

Blackwaterfoot.

Blackwaterfoot Village is located where the Clauchan Water flows over natural rock weirs then under a stone bridge into the sea. If you are hungry or thirsty, you can visit the Kinloch Hotel here. Blackwaterfoot lies at the the western end of the String Road which was built across Arran in 1817 by Thomas Telford. The eastern end of the road is located near Brodick. Near Blackwaterfoot is the King's Cave where Robert the Bruce watched a spider trying to climb up a wall. The spider kept slipping down then trying again and again. The persistence of the spider inspired him to continue fighting the English eventually defeating them at Bannockburn and driving them out of Scotland.

Blackwaterfoot

Blackwaterfoot

Wild Deer.

Arran is home to large herds of wild deer. We were delighted to pass a golf course absolutely covered everywhere in a herd of them. They seemed really tame and totally at ease in their surroundings and not bothered by a human audience.

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Wild Deer

Family Of Swans.

This lovely family of swans swam right up to us. I was surprised to see such a large number of cygnets. They really brightened up our day. Arran is a very good place to enjoy wildlife and nature in many forms.

Family Of Swans

Family Of Swans

Family Of Swans

Family Of Swans

Family Of Swans

Family Of Swans

Seals.

It is quite common as you travel around Arran to see seals basking on the rocks or playing in the waves. In the little village of Corrie there is even a very cute statue of a basking seal out in the water.

Seals

Seals

Seals

Seals

Seals

Seals

Hiking.

Arran is a wonderful place for hiking. These are some photos from one of the walks we took. As with all of Scotland beware of sudden changes in the weather and bring warm clothing with you -­ layers are your best option.

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Beaches.

Arran has some lovely beaches and beautiful coastline. We braved swimming in Whiting Bay once, but I must admit the water was absolutely freezing even after a spell of lovely hot summer weather. Our swim lasted about five minutes. All of them agonizing.

Beaches And Coastline

Beaches And Coastline

Beaches And Coastline

Beaches And Coastline

Beaches And Coastline

Beaches And Coastline

Old Post Box.

On Arran's string road which runs from near Brodick to the village of Blackwaterfoot there is a lovely old post box. It is made of stone and is quite an unusual shape. It has lots of different symbols carved into its stones.

Old Post Box

Old Post Box

Getting To Arran.

Regular ferries run from Ardrossan Harbour to the Isle of Arran. These ferries link in both directions with a train service from Glasgow Central Station to Ardrossan Harbour. There are summer and winter timetables. The ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. The first ferry in the morning on the summer timetable departs from Ardrossan at 7am, later on Sundays ­ 9.45 am. The last ferry back to Ardrossan is usually around 7pm ­ 19.20 to be precise, later on Fridays with the last sailing at 21.40. Fares for this service are 6 pounds 75 single. The journey takes about 55 minutes. The ferries serve meals and snacks. They also have a bar where you can get excellent Arran Blonde beer on draft. They also have a souvenir shop on board. The only other ferry service to Arran connects Lochranza to Claonaig. Ferries run seven days a week on the summer timetable. Journey time is thirty minutes. The first ferry leaves Lochranza at 8.15am. The first leaves Claonaig at 8.50am. Last ferries on the summer timetable leave Lochranza at 18.25 and Claonaig at 19.00.

Getting To Arran

Getting To Arran

Getting To Arran

Getting To Arran

Getting To Arran

Getting To Arran

Posted by irenevt 06:13 Archived in Scotland

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

This looks a wonderful island to explore. I loved the twelve apostles and their different windows - what a clever idea! And the old stone post box too :) Plus a cheese shop, brewery AND distillery!!

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah,

I really cannot praise Arran highly enough. It is lovely. If you get good weather, and in Scotland that is a BIG IF, it is absolutely beautiful and so peaceful.

by irenevt

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login