The island of Arran boasts a diverse landscape and is often referred to as Scotland in miniature with its pretty villages, stunning coastline and mountainous areas. It makes an ideal holiday destination for those who wish to discover the great outdoors, uncover the history of the island, explore the diverse wildlife or simply get away from it all. Arran really does have something for everyone.
The island is a natural adventure playground offering walking, sea kayaking, sailing, abseiling, gorge walking, golfing horse riding and biking. Specific bike routes can be downloaded from the Arran bike club website although the forest tracks and coastal roads, 52 miles right round, enable you to explore what the island has to offer for yourself. For the walkers there are numerous forest trails or the Isle of Arran Coastal Way which follows a continuous route around the island, whilst the northern half of the island offers the more adventurous a mountainous region of granite peaks to explore. For the golfers there is a choice of seven fair but challenging courses. Did you know the island boasts the world’s highest number of golf courses per head of population?
For the wildlife enthusiast, Arran has plenty to offer. A large population of red deer can be found roaming the hills and glens particularly around the Lochranza area. Sheltered by mainland Scotland Arran is a sanctuary for marine wildlife and sea birds. Common and Grey Seals can often been seen on rocks at low tide some of the best spotting places being Newton Shore, Merkland Point and Kildonan shore. It is not unusual to see Minke whales, Basking sharks and large schools of Bottlenose Dolphins too. There are over 250 species of birds on Arran. Raptors range from Buzzards, Hen Harriers, Short Eared Owls, Kestrels, Sparrowhawk and Golden Eagle. The island is also a nationally important area for Red-Breasted Merganser and Black Throated Divers.
Whiting Bay is one of Arran’s larger villages with its own pier, grocers store, chemist, newsagents, post office, craft shops, art galleries, pubs, restaurants and hotels. For those with a sporting interest there are tennis courts, bowling green and golf course. Whiting Bay beach offers pebbles, sand, rock pools and wildlife, whilst Glenashdale Falls offers an interesting and diverse walk.
Kildonan is Arran’s most southerly village and is so named after Saint Donan who is believed to be buried in the village. From here you can see the island of Pladda and volcanic island of Ailsa Craig. For the historians there are the remains of Kildonan Castle.
Lagg in the southwest is the only village on the island without a view of the sea but has plenty of other features to admire. As you leave Lagg towards Kilmory you will find Torrylinn Creamery producing award winning cheese.
Blackwaterfoot is a small village nestled in a bay with its own harbour. The sandy beach stretches for miles and can offer some spectacular sunsets. In neighbouring Shiskine is the Balmichael Visitor centre and from Shiskine Valley you can experience some of Arran’s most spectacular views.
Machrie has an abundance of stone circles and the area is home to a wealth of ancient remains including King’s Cave where Robert the Bruce found inspiration from a spider as it repeatedly struggled up its silken thread.
Lochranza is a beautiful village surrounded on three sides by imposing mountains with a 13th century castle in the bay. Lochranza is home to the Isle of Arran Distillery which uses only traditional methods of distilling with wooden washbacks and copper stills. The CalMac ferry links Lochranza with Kintyre during summer months.
Corrie is another stunning village with two idyllic harbours and is a magnet for artists wishing to capture the inspiring landscape. The neighbouring hamlet of Sannox has a sandy bay which is popular with swimmers in the summer.
There are plenty of places to explore on Arran, Brodick is the largest village on the island with supermarkets, shops, banks and post office as well as the Ferry Terminal. Some of Arran’s best bars and hotels are to be found here and offer something to suit all tastes from a gourmet dinner, to a takeaway. Central to the village is Ormidale Park which hosts regular sporting activities and most notable the Brodick Highland Games every August. The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum is also to be found here at the foot of the Rosaburn the exhibits reflect on the islands social, archaeological and geological history. Something not to be missed is Brodick Castle and Country Park, set below Goat Fell (the highest mountain on the island) and overlooking Brodick Bay, (it is unique in the fact it is the only island Country Park in Britain). With the Castle and extensive grounds there is plenty to occupy the whole family for a day.
Lamlash sits in a sheltered bay protected by the Holy Isle which rises to almost a thousand feet and is home to a Buddhist monk retreat. The Isle itself can be explored using the designated footpath; a regular ferry service operates to the Isle from Lamlash pier. The village itself offers a natural harbour and marine conservation area, pubs, hotels, small Co-op, golf club and working jewellery studio and art gallery as well as charming cottages at Hamilton Terrace. Divers may wish to explore the Derwent shipwreck in the bay dating back to 1880.