Due to the fact we live an unpredictable climate – with frequent rain and dull weather – we often choose to holiday abroad. However, we’re saving for a mortgage this year, and spent the last 2 years living in England. So we decided to have a ‘stay-cation’ to Arran!
I live on the west coast of Scotland, very near to Loch Lomond and not too far from some popular Scottish islands. Marks aunt and uncle have a beautiful holiday home on the Isle of Arran, and were kind enough to have us to stay for 2 nights.
We took the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick which only takes around an hour. Then drove around to the house – taking in the incredible views along the way. The weather was incredible both days we were there, which is just so lucky for anywhere in Scotland!
After a quick catch up with family, we decided to head out and see some of the island. Driving from Blackwaterfoot to Lochranza, Mark made the mistake of telling me we could stop anywhere for photos. So we probably stopped 4 times in the space of 40 minutes, but the photos were so worth it. Like many of the Scottish islands, the coasts have white sand and pebbles, creating that beautiful blue/green hue that you see in tropical locations. I previously found it so hard to trust the images online – does Scotland seriously look like that? Yes!
Once we finally arrived in Lochranza, we visited the ruins of the castle on the waters edge. The castle dates from the 13th century and is small in comparison to others I’ve seen, but anything that old and still standing deserves a visit. It has signs on the inside showing what each room was used for when it was functional. I personally thought the tiny little room they used as a jail was black and terrifying, naturally Mark tried to put me in there.
A little further along the road, sits Arran Distillery. Being a big whisky fan, the plan was always to drink a lot of whisky. The tours were fully booked but we were able to book up for 4pm the next day. So back along the pretty road we drove, to have dinner with our hosts.
We had decided on a whim (or rather – I loosely agreed) to climb Goat Fell at a decent time on the Wednesday morning. Packing ourselves into the car around 9am, we headed out in comfortable 16c sunshine to buy Mark a hat. Can’t have him burning his wee heed and ruining my holiday!
Goat Fell is approx 2,866ft, and it was pointed out to me that the car park is at sea level, which means you really hike that 2,866ft! It’s a fairly easy walk to start with, and there was plenty of people of all ages. The further we walked the rockier it became, the last hour is up some very large rocks, and there isn’t a clear path.
Possibly due to the weather, but it was the busiest hill walk I’ve ever been on. I hadn’t planned on going all the way to the top, as I start to get the fear when there’s steep drops. Though the more children I seen managing it, I felt like I had to. Plus there was dogs everywhere running back and forth – they must climb twice the distance people do.
The views from the top were worth the 2.5 hour walk up. Perfect weather and clear skies allowed us to see the surrounding islands and other hills. I went overkill with taking photographs, but I was trying so hard to capture the breathtaking views and colours.
We spent around 30 minutes at the top, and it took us 2 hours to climb back down. The down part was HARD on the legs. I was extremely grumpy and ready to be down, but I would do it all over again for those views.
At 4pm we were booked in for a stiff whisky in the form of a distillery tour. Much needed by the time we finished our 5 hours up Goat Fell.
I love a distillery tour. Every whisky is made differently and I enjoy hearing about the history of each distillery. There’s something about the feel of the brick and wood interior, that makes me relax into the tour… or maybe it’s the free whisky.
We were shown a short film on the history whilst enjoying an Arran 12 year old. Arran distillery is still fairly new, opening in 1995. We then headed over to the still room which I always enjoy as the big copper stills are so impressive.
To finish off the tour, we were taken to the visitor bar and tasted an Arran Gold whisky liqueur. I’m not usually a fan of drinks like that, but it is made with Arran 10 year old whisky and it was delicious. I picked up a bottle in the gift shop for sharing out at Christmas or Hogmanay.
Our short 2 days in Arran was only a taster of what it has to offer. We’re hoping to go back in a few weeks and do some cycling and see more of the island. I highly recommend a visit to Arran if you’ve never been, and I hope you are as lucky as us with the weather!
Written by Laura McLuskey