europe, scotland

Isle of Arran

Today was the last day of this school term and it’s time for the very long awaited spring holiday… Hello two weeks of adventures! I’ve spent the evening browsing other travelers blogs on Iceland, as that’s the destination that my boyfriend, Conor, and I are traveling to on Wednesday. This has resulted in an usual mixture of me feeling unbelievably exhausted yet bouncing of the walls, giddy and excited.

Naturally, this made me start thinking of our adventure last half term, in February, to the Isle of Arran. The Isle of Arran, if you haven’t heard of it, is a beautiful little island, off the west coast of Scotland. Not as far north as it’s famous friend Skye, and (apparently) easier to get to. If you enjoy the outdoors and the coast, it is a must visit. Conor had already visited and was desperate to return, and after hearing his tales, I was equally keen.

I believe that a picture tells a thousand words, and as you can see below, Arran is breathtaking. Yet I’m not sure that even these gorgeous photos do the place justice. Pictures can’t describe the feeling of calm that you achieve on the island. They can’t describe the smell of the sea salt as you walk along a remote beach in the early morning nor the feel of the fresh, Scottish air on your skin as you walk along the cliffs.

So on the 16th February, at around 6am, we left Liverpool and embarked on our journey up to Androssan where we would catch a ferry over to the island. Only, the 12.30pm ferry that we had pictured ourselves on was cancelled and further ferries were delayed due to bad weather. However, 14 hours after departing, we arrived on the wet and blustery Isle of Arran and quickly bundled ourselves into a chippy for a greasy yet delicious haggis and chips. We arrived at our hotel (http://www.kildonanhotel.com/) in the pitch black around half an hour later, completely unaware of our surroundings.

To our delight, this is the view we woke up to the next morning:

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The Kildonan Hotel has this amazing dining room with full length windows, so this is the view that you get whilst eating breakfast. Absolutely stunning. In fact, everything about the hotel was pretty excellent. After a wonderful Scottish breakfast, we spent a little bit of time exploring this beautiful stretch of beach. If I could have bottled the feeling of calm that I felt whilst strolling along this beach, the world would be a much more content place. Later this morning we drove to Blackwaterfoot and walked along to Kings Caves, which was said to have been the refuge of Robert the Bruce. However more importantly to me, this was the location where we took, what I think is my all time favourite photo. (A little bit soppy for me… I apologise!)

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Here are some other beautiful photos of our adventures on Arran this day, many took by the wonderful Conor, who is a far better photographer than myself:

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From the outside of Kings Caves.

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Machrie Moor Stone Circles – after a short walk, we found ourselves here. The stones were erected around 2000BC  and the stone circle is thought to have been linked to religious and ceremonial activities at the time. Slightly eerie and very mysterious, definitely worth the visit.

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Cliffside swings – On the drive home we spotted these swings, my inner child had to try them out!

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Sunset from Kildonan – after returning to the hotel, we were fortunate enough to capture this beautiful sunset. A perfect end to a perfect day.

As you can imagine, our second day on Arran had a lot to live up to! We drove upto Lochranza, stopping in Brodick to visit the bakery and also stopping when we spotted some sunbathing seals on the route. We then took a tour of the Lochranza Distillery. It was very informative and the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, however it was of course appreciated by the whiskey lover, Conor, much more than myself! Afterwards we explored the Lochranza village and coastline and got absolutely drenched in the process – it wouldn’t be Scotland without rain would it? We then took the long and scenic way home, right around the edge of the island.

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Kildonan coastline, with the castle in the background. 

Sadly, we couldn’t spend any longer in Arran, we were due to return home on our third day and due to poor weather we decided to get an earlier ferry to ensure that we didn’t become stranded on the island.

And thus, here ends this blog post and I’m going to leave you with a few Isle of Arran stats:

# of new gins and whiskeys tried on the island: 12

# of seals spotted on the journey to Lochranza: 11

# of pictures taken on my iPhone : 137

# of times we discussed relocating to the Isle of Arran: 1267821 

So, if you ever fancy a trip to somewhere remote, calm and peaceful and away from almost all other tourists, somewhere that feels a million miles away from your everyday life; try a trip to the Isle of Arran. You won’t be disappointed.

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