Thursday , 20 January 2022

Out and about in Arran

The dramatic landscape of Arran
The dramatic landscape of Arran

Scotland in Miniature

The small isle of Arran is a magical place that packs in stunning beaches, dramatic mountains, woodlands, and castles, boasting first-class accommodation, golf courses, delightful country pubs, culinary delights and surprisingly friendly to the LGBTAIQ traveller.

The landscape is astonishing in its diversity: Dramatic mountain ridges, comparable to the scenic highlands, cover the northern half, while a lusher, softer landscape of green rolling hills, secluded coves, beaches and islets, can be enjoyed in the south. In fact the vivid variation of Scotland’s magnificent landscape can all be experienced in this small but incredibly diverse island.  This is the reason why the island is often affectionately dubbed as “Scotland in Miniature”.

Something For Everyone

The island has an amazing flora and fauna, deer, seals, lambs (black ones!!!), highlands cattle, eagles, sea-birds, palm trees (due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream), heather-clad hills, beautiful montbretia flowers and much more.

This wee isle is easily accessible by a relatively short combined rail and ferry journey from Glasgow, by taking your car on a ferry, or a biking journey. As a foot passenger, you can also simply take advantage of the circular bus services, hopping on and off as you please at any point around the island.

Arran offers something for everyone – arresting hikes, breathtaking cycling around its coast, historical monuments an rich wild-life and artisan industries, such as Arran Aromatics, Arran cheeses, Arran Distillery and Arran Brewery, the delicious Arran ice-cream, to name just a few.


Brodick Castle
Brodick Castle

As you arrive from the mainland to Brodick, the Island’s gateway, head to the Arran Heritage Museum that will delight you with an overview of the local history. Another must see is the beautiful sandstone Brodick Castle, once the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, nestled in a magical garden overlooked by the island’s mighty mountain, Goatfell, to which you can ascend if you enjoy stunning country hikes. Brodick is also the location of the annual Arran Folk Festival, which is well worth attending.

If you want to stay and dine in Brodick, you couldn’t do better than head to the luxurious Kilmichael Country House Hotel, run and owned by the couple Geoffrey and Antony. Other excellent options include Auchrannie House Hotel & Spa or the stylish The Douglas Hotel.

The North

Lochranza Castle
Lochranza Castle

Further north the mountains dramatically rise above the coast, creating a breathtaking shoreline with coves and lochs, with the particularly attractive wee village of Corrie. Keep your eyes open towards the coast and you may spot playful curious seals. The coast reaches its dramatic culmination in the stunning village of Lochranza, which sports a picturesque ruins of a 13th century castle dominating a loch and the relatively new Arran Distillery. Continuing around the north of the island you come across the beautiful village Catacol.

Moving south along the island’s west coast you arrive at the spectacular Machrie Bay and its mysterious Machrie Moor Stone Circle. For a well-deserved break, stop over and enjoy a delicious cuppa at the delightful Machrie Tea Room.

Just a short distance further to the south lays the gorgeous fishing village of Blackwaterfoot, with its dreamy wee port, white sandy beaches and the famous King’s Cave, where it is claimed that Robert the Bruce had his famous arachnid encounter.

The South

From here the countryside becomes much gentler with little coves and bays, wooded valleys especially around the picture perfect Lagg with its old coaching inn. From here you can venture to Torrylinn Cairn, an ancient chambered tomb that is estimated to be over 4000 years old.

Continuing along the southernmost tip, Kildonan has particularly pleasant sandy beaches complete with an ivy-clad ruined castle, overlooking the small islet of Pladda. Here you can enjoy observing basking sharks.

South East

In Whiting Bay you’ll find further fine sandy beaches and the Arran Art Gallery, with its beautiful landscape portraits of Arran. This is a pleasant place to base yourself and also enjoy walks through the forest to the Giant’s Graves and the unforgettable Glenashdale Falls, while you take in the stunning countryside, keep your watch for golden eagles.

Reward yourself with a delicious meal or hot-drink and cake at the excellent Coast Café Bistro, with a conservatory and deck, right on the beach, run by couple, Russell and Mark.

Holy Isle
Holy Isle

Further north on the south east coast you arrive to striking village of Lamlash, replete with Victorian architectural charm and a bay dominated by Holy Isle, which is home to a Buddhist retreat that offers a delightful full vegetarian board, as well as spiritual courses.

For culinary delights and award-winning boutique accommodation, all set in a lovely garden with scenic views to the sea, look no further then Glenisle Hotel, also owned and managed by the boyz.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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