Located on the west coast where the River Clyde joins the Atlantic Ocean, the 7th largest island in Scotland, concentrates all that the country has to offer in terms of change of scenery and discoveries, with the great advantage of being very easily accessible.
Traveling means making choices: in just a few days, in a country as big as Scotland, it is impossible to hit both the highlands and the beaches while enjoying moments of relaxation. But why choose when you have Arran, west of Glasgow with an ever-changing coastline, towering mountain peaks, sheltered beaches, verdant forests, cultural festivals and plenty of local produce? Follow the leader!
What to do in Arran
The island is not devoid of history – and in Scotland, a place full of history means a popular place for castles. Arran had three, but only one still stands: Brodick Castle , which was the seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. On a guided tour through the opulent reception halls and cozy bedrooms, you can get a sense of the fortunes and misfortunes of one of the country’s most powerful aristocratic families, and what led to the castle family being ceded to National Trust of Scotland, the body responsible for protecting Scotland’s historic heritage. The other two castles lie in ruins: Kildonan on the southern tip of the island, is no more than a relic, but Lochranza Castle , at the opposite end, is worth a visit. This castle would have inspired what appears in it The black islandthe Adventures of Tintin album.
By culture, nature: thanks to the fault line of the Highlands, which runs from Arran to the north-east of Scotland, and which forms the natural border between the lowlands in the south and the highlands in the north, these two types of environments meet on the island. The most athletic can set off to tackle Goat Fell mountain, the highest point on the island at 874 metres: from Brodick Castle, there is a path of about 5 kilometers that you can take to enjoy an impressive panorama of the island – on sunny days you can even see neighboring Northern Ireland. For a slightly less physical walk, go to Glen Rosea peaceful valley at the foot of goat fell : Follow the rocky paths along the river, and if you don’t do the whole hike from Brodick, at least go to the waterfall and blue pool.
FOR the Butterflies
Arran is lucky to have the cleanest water in Scotland: it is found at Loch na Davie. It is good: it is in this lake that the Arran Distillery, i Lochranza, draws its raw material for its whiskey, filtered and softened by granite and peat. The distillery offers guided tours that allow you to better understand the process of making this spirit, ending with a tasting with advice from the guide who reminds us that whiskey is more than a drink: it is an experience to be take the time to Direct ! The distillery also has an excellent café: ideal for a lunch break or for a cup of tea.
Arran is also known for its cheddar: a cheese often thought of as bland but which can be seasoned in surprising ways. Try the delicious herb cheddar, the garlic cheddar or – more unexpectedly – the ginger cheddar, which goes perfectly with a good chutney on a biscuit for an aperitif. To find some, go to the nearby Arran Cheese Shop brodick.
While you’re nearby, check out Arran Aromatics, one of Scotland’s best-known cosmetics brands, which tries to capture the spirit of Arran through its perfumes, candles and soaps. Arran’s Brewery is also nearby.
The easiest way to get to Arran is from Glasgow: from Glasgow Central Station take the train for 45 minutes to Ardrossan, the terminus. The station is close to the ferry terminal: only a few minutes’ walk to board to Arran. If you book your travel ticket in advance, Scotrail, Scotland’s national rail company, offers combined train and ferry tickets: search for a route from Glasgow to Brodick, the capital of Arran, to see timetables and prices that suit you (costs around €25 a road). It is also possible to buy a ticket directly at the ferry terminal, but if you have a vehicle, you must book your crossing online.
The boat crossing from the mainland to Arran is very fast: no time to be seasick because in 55 minutes it’s over! Take the opportunity to try dolphin spotting and don’t miss the view of the island when you arrive. Valleys, green forests, mountains, calm seas: from the deck of the boat you will realize the diversity of Arran’s environment.
Our best addresses in Arran
With its restaurant, its spa with swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and hammam, Auchrannie Resort offers a rejuvenating stay on the outskirts of Brodick. The rooms are comfortable: we like the view of the hotel’s beautiful gardens, the palette of soft colors, the typical country house look with tartan cushions and, above all, the ultra-soft beds. You’d almost want to spend your entire stay there, but it would be a shame to miss out on all that Arran has to offer…
Auchrannie Resort, Auchrannie Rd, Brodick, Isle of Arran KA27 8BZ. Such. : +44 (0)1770 302234. From €105 per night for a double room.
Crofters, Knox House, Shore Road, Brodick KA27 8AJ. +44 (0)1770 302579.
Brambles Seafood + Grill, Auchrannie Rd, Brodick KA27 8BZ. Tel.: +44 (0)1770 302234.
CASKS Cafe, Lochranza, KA27 8HJ. Such. : +44 (0)1770 830264.
To know more : Visit Arran and VisitScotland.