Why visit the Isle of Arran, this is why!

Many good Scottish holiday starts with you stepping onto a ferry and travelling to the Scottish isles. As soon as you leave the harbour you know that all the fun is about to start and memories for life are about to be made!

I am keen to try and inspire you to also take the leap, set sail or whichever fits best with you visiting the Isle of Arran in autumn and winter. This is the time of year when the island is a little quieter and also more availability at the local hotels, lodges and B&B’s.

My wife and I have over the years visited this wonderful little Scottish island and fallen in love with its charm and magic. This time, October 2016, we have brought our 9 months old baby girl to introduce her to her first Scottish Island, so all together a different experience.

The Isle of Arran lies off the west coast of Scotland and often is known as the isle that is Scotland in miniature. Arran has a great deal to offer for all visitors, may that be cultural, scenic, historic or exploring the wealth of wildlife, which you can expect to find in the most remote parts of Scotland, all within easy reach of Scotland’s biggest cities. Make sure to check out VisitArran or follow them on twitter for the best activities and events on the island.

Accommodation; We have over the years stayed in a number of locations around the island from camping in Lochranza at the north of the island to the Kildonan Hotel in the very south.

This also means that we have gone basic while camping in Lochranza amongst the wild deer, a stone throw from the islands only Whisky distillery (for now) and living it up in luxury while staying at the islands finest hotel, the Auchrannie Resort. Here you will find some of the islands finest restaurants, the opportunity to relax in their onsite spa facilities and as we found out this time, take the little ones to their play barn.

During our weekend on the isle of Arran in we stayed in what was Duke of Hamilton’s Head Gamekeepers Lodged, within the grounds of Brodick Castle. The West Lodge and the East Lodge are two separate one bed lodges, which has been converted into two luxury lodges.

It came without a fireplace, but with the help of the free wi-fi, we could enjoy a virtual fireplace with background music, almost as good!

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The West Lodge Garden view

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The West Lodge

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Day 1

We left Edinburgh in the morning and arrived in Adrossan before midday. We checked in to our Calmac Ferry and got ready for our adventure on Scotland’s west coast.

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We got on the ferry and less than an hour later arrived in Brodick, the largest village on Arran. The first thing we saw was the new Calmac Ferry Terminal and harbour under construction, which is great for the island, with so many visitors and locals using the service on a daily basis.

As we had a few hours to spare before checking into our lodge. We therefore made our way south to Lamlash, a small village less than 10min by car south of Brodick. We had only just arrived to the village and spotted the first set of seals basking in the bay.

We headed for the Drift Inn, where we had never yet visited, despite having visited Arran several times. This was an ideal choice for lunch and a really idyllic setting overlooking the Holy Isle beyond the bay. We ordered a special of seafood platter and local Arran Version burger, beautiful! We took this opportunity to also enjoy our first Arran ale from Arran Brewery of the holiday, which they had on draught, along with another large array of Scottish beers and spirits.

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After lunch we headed back to Brodick to pick up the evenings dinner. This consisted of Arran Butcher Steak Pie and herbed potatoes. This would be served with another couple of Arran Blond beers, what better way to start the holiday!

Day 2

Sunday was a lazy morning, once the whole family was up, we prepared a nice selection of Arran Butcher foods including black pudding, bacon, beef slice (lorn sausage) and good local eggs on Wooley’s bakers rolls. Every time we’re on the island we like to try where possible to use the good local produce. To learn more about the great array of local foods produced on Arran you must check out Taste of Arran

Mid-morning we then headed for the south of the island for a nice walk along the beach by Blackwaterfoot. Typically for me we had to stop a few times to take in and photograph the landscape, it’s hard not to! We parked up by Shiskine Golf club, right beside the beach and walked from there. Arran now has a pathway almost completed around the full costal path, in total once finished it will be 65miles long. For further details about all the walks around the island and to plan your next walk on Arran, visit Arran Coastal Way

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This beach from Blackwaterfoot is in an ideal setting and if you have time, the walk takes you to the Kings Cave, only a couple of miles from there. To read a little more you should visit the blog by Arran in Focus

After our walk we then drove on and stopped by Kildonan Hotel, where we had stayed in spring of 2015. They have recently had an extension of the bar and lounge, with impressive views over the south of the island and bathed in natural light. There we enjoyed a nice and traditional lunch of fish and chips and Kildonan Club, and of course share a locally brewed ale.

If you stay over, you’re likely to see the otters and seal play right outside the restaurant on the coastline, if you’re down early enough for breakfast. If not they can be seen just along the coast from the hotel, as I found out during our stayed.

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Photograph from our 2015 visit to the Isle of Arran

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Photograph from our 2015 visit to the Isle of Arran

That evenings menu consisted of Smoked salmon canapés and Arran cheese selection and crackers. Served with a nice bottle of wine and finished off with a wee dram of whisky. As we would say in Denmark, that’s ‘Hygge’!

Day 3

We were up fairly early and managed to catch the sunrise over the tree tops and Brodick Bay. That morning we enjoyed the last of our Arran breakfast and then got ready for another day of adventures.

After breakfast we walked from our lodge into the forest and along the Cnocan gorge path. There you will find a number of routes and depending on how long you have available, could explore the area for hours – Walking on Arran

We walked in a loop and ended up by Home Farm, where the Wineport Restaurant is housed. There we enjoyed a refreshment in front of the log fire and what a great selection of cakes they had. Also if you were after whisky’s they had a rather larger selection available, although it was a little too early for us!

From there we continued the walk and later on ended up back home. The little one had a rest, longer than expected, so we never made it to the Old Byre Visitor Centre – Make sure you pay a visit as this comes highly recommended for everyone visiting the island, including families.

Before dinner that evening we made our way north from Brodick to Lochranza, specifically Lochranza Golf Course. We have over the years been luck enough to see the wild deer play and fight on this course and wanted to try our luck! It was perfect timing at dusk and they were still around and in great form. If you have the opportunity to visit, especially around dusk, you’re almost guaranteed to see some of the locals hanging out here!

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That evening the menu consisted of steamed Mussels, Arran cheese selection and finished off with a lovely Arran Gold Ice cream.

Day 4 and last day!

After breakfast and we got everything sorted for leaving the lodge, we headed straight for Arran Aromatic for a bit of retail therapy. It is located just outside Brodick and next to the Island Cheese, Duchess Court Shop and Cafe and Creelers of Arran seafood.

After this we made our way to the Auchrannie Resort Playbarn. Having spent a lot of time walking around the island and generally taking in the magic of the place, we decided to let our baby daughter have a bit of fun. Arrive before 12PM and it’s a bargain £2.5 per child or toddler, after 12PM it’s £4.00 for two hours. Adults go for free (unless their inner child want to play too). There are snack and beverages for sale too. There is also an onsite pool and leisure facilities, where even as a none resident you can visit for a small fee. Unfortunately on this occasion we did not have the time to visit.

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After the Playbarn we headed for lunch at Little Rock Café, Brodick. The café is family run by Chris and Ailie and has just celebrated its second birthday. Must be one of the busiest cafés in the village and we were there as the low season has just started. A great way to enjoy the local produce, freshly prepared by Chris, Ailie and their team, with a magnificent view over Brodick Bay and Goatfell mountain.

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Brodick Bay and Goatfell mountain view

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A great selection of homemade cakes and sandwiches

We enjoyed a Pumpkin soup, great to see it not going to waste and a Creelers smoked salmon bagels and a Chicken and Buffalo ciabatta. They do a dame good coffee too!

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Before leaving we went for a stroll along the waterfront in Brodick and popped into the Visit Scotland Tourist information centre. We usually like to visit to see what’s happening on the isle, but had not manage to go until now. We spoke to Ann the assistant who was most helpful and we made sure to grab a few leaflets to plan our next visit.

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The Isle of Arran in miniature

On the Calmac Ferry we got on and had time to grab a bite of dinner during our voyage back to the mainland. Mine was a Argyll Venison Pie with winter vegetables, great seeing the local produce used and a really good meal.

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Thanks for reading and make sure you follow me on twitter and Instagram on my travels around Scotland and beyond on @kimkjaerside

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2 thoughts on “Why visit the Isle of Arran, this is why!

  1. Thanks, Kim, for this lovely post. I visited the Isle of Arran about twelve years ago and thoroughly loved it. I was there with my son and together we played golf at the little Lochranza course. I love your descriptions of the island and it has really whetted my appetite to visit there again. I’m American and after I retired from the academic life about three years ago, my wife and I moved to Florence, Italy. I love Scotland and being in Europe has made it much more accessible. I’ve been there three times since we moved and my last trip was in September, when I spent two weeks in the Outer Hebrides and on the Isle of Skye—beautiful! Many thanks again, I really enjoy your posts. —Bob

    • Hi there Bob, apologies about the delayed reponse and I sincerely appreciate your kind words. It really is a special please isn’t it and I loved the Outer Hebrides too, a wee bit quieter there, but some of the worlds best beaches by far. I have only ever visited Florence once, but remember it being full of beautiful building at architectural work and amazing art work. All the best and maybe see you around Scotland some time. Kim

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