The days are short, the nights are cold, and everyone is heading back to work. Typical January, it breaks your spirits in more ways than you thought possible. So, in order to make ourselves happier, we decided to take a trip to the Isle of Arran. Our first big island visit in Scotland, we were very excited.
Heading to an island always feels like a panic to me. Going to a port, getting a boat, sinking into the Scottish sea. It sounds very over-dramatic and well, I may have exaggerated it a teeny tiny bit.
CalMac is the official provider for most of Scotland’s ferry crossings. A government owned transport company, as most public transport should be, the crossing was quick, cheap and, pretty easy. No icebergs in sight as we crossed from Ardrossan to Brodick.
A pretty modern-ish departure lounge on the mainland, with a little cafe for those feeling peckish in the early morning. A nice wait for the boat to come in.
The boat is a brisk 50 minutes, sometimes an hour depending on weather, from the mainland to island. The boat is reasonably sized, a place to get food and watch the world go by or you can sit right at the top and stare at the oncoming destination.
We headed to the top deck so we could get a view of Brodick ferry terminal as we headed into the dock on the island. Handily the terminal has places to catch regular buses to take you down the island to Lamlash, where we stayed, and up to Lochranza where you can take another ferry.
Once you are off the boat, the roads are pretty easy to navigate. One main road takes you pretty much all the way around the island, albeit a bit scarily at times. You can also take a road right through the middle of the island, looking at Goats Fell whizz by.
There are many things that take pride in coming from the Isle of Arran, including cheese, ice cream, and shampoo and while you are over there you can pretty much visit where they make all of these things.
Isle of Arran Cheese
My favourite place but not so much my girlfriends. I have an absolute love of cheese, one of my favourite sandwiches includes brie and is very popular around Christmas. I’d tried Isle of Arran cheese once before when a work colleague visited and brought back a bunch of cheese to try. I pretty much fell in love with it after that.
The cheesemakers have a great selection of cheese, including Chilli, Oak Smoked, and Whisky. All of which are incredibly delicious. You can grab some cheese to take away or watch them make the cheese coating in the viewing window in the shop.
I’m not too well versed in the world of Aromatics. In fact, on the mainland I’ve been to Arran Aromatics twice in total. But we were told this was a must-see on the island. So we went.
It’s wasn’t amazed by the shop but I wasn’t disappointed. There isn’t a price difference between the island and the mainland and I am not sure why there would be. But to be able to buy your products as fresh as they get? You don’t need a better excuse!
A delight on top of the hill, just outside of Brodick. A view across out onto the ferry terminal to watch the boats come in, and some nice walks for you and your significant other to take.
The castle itself was shut when we went there, but still, it was quite interesting to see the old sandstone building complete with miniature cannons. In the summer, when everything is open and the sun is shining then I am pretty sure this place will be a delight. Even more than when we visited.
It isn’t that big so you can get round pretty quickly. Taking a car is recommend because you can quickly get to all the major bits of Arran. Stopping at Lochranza to see the deer is a requirement, but don’t get too close.
Heading around to the Apostle cottages to see their wondrous and unique windows, looking out into the Scottish fishing territory, a place where they would put candles to signal to their husbands that all was okay.
Various view points around the edge to stop and look out at the beauty of Scotland, and The String, a wonderful road going straight through the middle of Arran.
The country that never disappoints, never disappointed me. Arran is a wonder hiding right on the west coast of Scotland. Easy to get to for any city landlubber, like myself and well worth a visit.. or two, maybe three. What do houses cost on Arran…?