I must be one of the few Scots who hasn’t been to Arran and with a Saturday/Sunday gap in the diary this was the perfect island get away.
A 1.5 hour drive from Edinburgh to Ardrossan and a ferry ride just under one hour, this was our simplest and definitely least stressful island journey yet.
From a quick look on the internet, there didn’t seem to be a clear consensus on whether to tackle the route clockwise or anti-clockwise. Heavy rain was forecast for early evening so we decided to do the short cycle north from Brodick to Lochranza (14 miles) on the Saturday afternoon and get our tents pitched before the heavens opened, saving the long cycle for the Sunday when the glorious sunshine (and wind) was forecast.
We made it about a mile before our first stop at Arran Aromatics and the cafe for lunch. The route wasn’t too strenuous apart from the Boguillie climb before descending into Lochranza.
We had a quick stop at the Arran distillery for coffee and cake and then got our midge protection on for pitching the tents. With no wind, they were fierce. This photo is the campsite toilet midge invasion.
We had dinner and sampled some Arran whisky at the Lochranza Inn (plenty of veggie options which was a bonus).
We woke to sunshine after a night of heavy rain
The road tracked the pebbly coast to Machrie Bay passing through lots of wee hamlets with quaint cottages and colourful gardens.
If anyone says Arran is flat it definitely isn’t! The section from Lagg back to Brodick had lots of steeps climbs and twisty fast descents.
A couple of miles before Brodick you are rewarded at the top of a climb with a vista of the mountains; a reason to come back.
We made it back with time for a quick drink before catching the last ferry. We’d had a strong head wind most of day and were a bit weary. My completely unfounded expectations of Arran were holiday parks, ice cream shops and swarms of day trippers. Instead, I’ve discovered it is a wee gem within easy reach of Edinbugh and there is still plenty exploring to do. Next time I’ll take my mountain bike and head for the mountains and in addition to finding some MTB trails, there’s a ridge that looks great.
Despite being so close to the mainland, Arran is no second best when it comes to rugged Scottish island appeal.