The Isle of Arran is situated in the firth of Clyde, between Ayrshire and Kintyre. It is the most southerly of the Scottish islands and is often referred to by people as “Scotland in miniature.” Arran has fifteen small villages, the largest of which is Brodick, which is the main terminal for the Caledonia MacBrayne ferry from mainland Scotland. Some of the views in Brodick are truly incredible, but are mostly dominated by Goatfell, which is the highest peak on Arran. There is also Brodick Castle, which was previously home to the Dukes of Hamilton, but is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland.
Lamlash is the second village after Brodick and is known for sitting on the bay where the Holy Isle is located. This Holy Isle was a source of much fascination for me as a child, being told by my parents that it was “where the monks lived.” I would ride my bike to the bay and look over at it thinking, “What Monks? It looks like there’s nobody there!” The Holy Isle is owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community, who belong to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, but holidaymakers can visit the island by ferry from Lamlash. Lamlash Bay was a naval anchorage during the First World War and relics from the era are still visible.
Whiting Bay is another village just literally down the road from Brodick and about five miles south of Lamlash. It also happens to be a place where I lived for a short time as a child. Whiting Bay’s shore road is dominated by hotels, pubs and restaurants. Many forest walks can be started from Whiting Bay too; particularly to Glenashdale Falls, which is close to an Iron Age Fort and the prehistoric burial site, Giants Graves. Arran is a dream for bike-riders with much beautiful scenery to take in as you cycle around the island. Another major attraction is its seven golf courses. A golfing pass for all seven will set you back €105 and entitles the bearer to one round of golf on each of the seven courses. My personal favourite golf club is on Whiting Bay, though if I’m being honest, I can’t play golf at all! When I lived on Arran, I loved to sit in the clubhouse at the golf club and devour a bowl of chips and a pint of ice-cold Coca-Cola (yes, they have Coca-Cola in Scotland). Whiting Bay did the best bowl of chips when I was a kid.
Lochranza is another main village on the island. Situated at the northwest tip, it boasts a small pier that runs a ferry service to Claonaig on the mainland of Kintyre and a 16th century castle ruin. I enjoyed my short time on the island and would like very much to one day return with my wife for a visit, as I’m sure she would fall in love with the place just as I did when I was a child. I recommend staying at the Arran Brewery Guest House in Whiting Bay, as my parents used to own it years ago. It is right across the street from the sea and promises a beautiful holiday.