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A Weekend on the Isle of Arran

Looking towards Brodick from above Brodick Castle, Arran

This month I was lucky enough to spend a weekend on the Isle of Arran off the West Coast of Scotland. Less than a 2-hour journey from Glasgow, Arran is an excellent choice if you’re only in Scotland for a few days and don’t have time to get up to the Highlands. With mountains, lochs and fern-covered hills, Arran really is like a miniature Scotland, giving you the full Scottish experience in one easy trip.

Arran is full of walks to cater for all abilities: for those who fancy a stroll by the sea there’s the well-maintained coastal path, which runs all around the island; the more ambitious adventurers may wish to tackle the ascent up Goatfell, the highest mountain on Arran and, of course, there’s everything in between. The grounds of Brodick Castle are stunning and make a lovely day out for wandering around the woods above the house.

Brodick Castle, Arran

It’s not just spectacular scenery you’ll see while walking on Arran, the island is home to a rich array of wildlife so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. I was only on Arran for two days and in that time, I saw more than a dozen heron, one very bold robin redbreast, a pair of golden eagles swirling through the sky as they fought above me, a lazy seal slapping his tail against the rocks and a whole host of deer.

Robin in Lochranza, Arran

While the weather may be better in Spring or Summer, Autumn is a fantastic time for nature lovers to visit the island. October is rutting season for the Red Deer that inhabit the island, meaning that you’re much more likely to catch a glimpse of the majestic stags. In fact, while I was there I saw no less than five stags on one day’s walk! You’ll hear a lot more than you see, too, as their bellowing roars echo off the hills, making it seem as if they are all around you. It really is a magical experience to see and hear these creatures in their natural habitat and something I will never forget.

Deer on the horizon near Laggan, Arran

Of course, all this exploring is hungry and thirsty work! This being Scotland, food and drink are obviously very important and the island is well supplied with local produce. The Arran Butcher is famous for its black pudding and haggis and you’ll find ice cream from the Arran Dairies sold all over the island. When you need a drop of something to wet your whistle, you can head to the Arran Brewery just outside of Brodick for an array of craft ales or take a wee dram at the Isle of Arran Distillery in Lochranza.

There are plenty of good, homely guest houses on the island but if that’s not really your style, there are also accommodation options to cater to a more refined taste. The Douglas Hotel, easily located close to the ferry port, has a clean, contemporary style and fantastic views over the bay at Brodick. The Auchrannie Resort also has a modern finish but with some nice traditional features and guests here can enjoy use of the hotel’s swimming pool and spa. My personal favourite is the Cruikshanks Boutique B&B, this luxury bed & breakfast is exquisitely finished and full of charm, giving you the authentic island experience without compromising on comfort.


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