A WEEKEND IN...THE ISLE OF ARRAN
The Isle of Arran is renowned for having everything Scotland has to offer in a beautiful compact island. It is overflowing with beautiful countryside, wildlife, hiking and great Scottish food and hospitality.
The island is relatively remote, so get a hire car in order to get the most out of your mini break. There are lots of car hire options direct from Glasgow airport to choose from.
While there are some pubs and restaurants, for this kind of weekend mini break hiring a beautiful cottage far from anywhere is recommended - allowing you to truly get away from it all and relax away from modern day distractions.
A Weekend in the Isle of Arran | Friday...
Pick up your hire car and make the short (about one hour) drive to Ardrossan, where the ferry departs from. Just next to the ferry terminal is a large Asda supermarket to stock up on supplies for your cottage (there is a decent Co-op in Brodick, but if there are more unusual ingredients you want then it's worth getting them on the mainland). Take note you'll need to be at the ferry terminal 30 minutes prior to your departure slot so factor that in to your timings.
Make sure you stand out on the front deck of the Ferry to get the full effect of the view of the island coming into range with it's stunning mountain scenery.
Head to your cottage to relax and get settled in with an open fire and a good whiskey.
Arran is blessed with stunning mountain scenery
A Weekend in the Isle of Arran | Saturday...
Pop to the Blackwaterfoot Bake House for some award winning baked goods and pastries for breakfast. If you're a bread connoisseur, this bakery is famed for their wild Arran yeast breads.
After breakfast, drive round the southern part of the island starting at Kildonan for a short stroll along the lovely beachfront while trying to spot seals, herons and otters. There are gorgeous views to the south east back to the remarkable Ailsa Crag, formed from an extinct volcano, sitting proudly between you and the mainland.
Drive round the coast towards Whiting Bay. Just before you arrive into the main part of the bay, you'll see a sign on the left for Glenashdale Falls. Park here (there's a small car park just past the sign on the right) and stick on your walking boots for the 2 hour round trip hike to Glenashdale Falls and the Giants Graves. This is a very easy paced and well signed walk through nice forests before arriving at the waterfall viewing point. Continue on towards the "Giants Graves" - ancient buriel sites from over 5,000 years ago - and take in the wonderful views back to Whiting Bay and Holy Isle beyond. Just before you arrive at the graves there is a single picnic table which is a lovely spot for a cup of coffee from a thermos to enjoy the view.
After returning to Whiting Bay, drive on to Brodick and head to the Crofters Music Bistro. This simple and very friendly pub has good beers and food and will often have live music to enjoy while you have lunch.
The gorgeous view of Whiting Bay
The Giants Graves
A Weekend in the Isle of Arran | Sunday...
After breakfast, drive to the Arran brewery carpark just north of Brodick and hike the Glen Rosa loop. As you walk up through the carpark there are signs to Goatfell mountain, but continue on up the hill until you see signs for the Cnocan Gorge trail. Shortly after you'll see a sign for Glen Rosa. This is a stunning walk up a lovely valley, following the river all the way. Keep your eyes open (and maybe bring binoculars) and you could catch sight of wild deer on the hillside of the valley. For the brave, bring your swimming trunks and take a dip in the natural pool next to the first bridge you reach! There is also a nice bench here when you can have a picnic while taking in the stunning scenery. The whole walk takes about two to three hours.
After returning to the car, if you have time you could take a quick visit to Brodick castle, but we recommend instead driving up the beautiful coastal road through Corrie - again eyes out for otters and seals - and onwards through the mountain pass to Lochranza. Stroll around the castle, infamous for being the basis of the classic Tintin book "The Black Isle", and take in the views north to the mainland.
Then head to the famed Isle of Arran distillery where you can take a great tour as well as some tutored tastings which are well worth the trip. Be warned, their signature 18 year old Isle of Arran whiskey is a punchy 46% and not for the faint hearted!
If you have more time, head home to your book, fire and whisky for the night, otherwise head back to Glasgow airport for the journey home.
The Glen Rosa valley
Lochranza Castle, look out for Tintin
Malt Whisky at the Isle of Arran distillery
A Weekend in the Isle of Arran | Monday...
If you have a little more time to stay the extra night, then today is the day to tackle the hike up Arran's highest mountain, Goatfell. This is a reasonably tough walk, though virtually anyone should be able to reach the summit given the time. For those of reasonable fitness you can expect the walk up and back to take four to five hours, excluding time enjoying the stunning views from the summit (weather permitting!)
As with any mountain hiking, take care with the weather, which can change very quickly. If unsure, take a guide.
The hike starts at the same place as yesterday's Glen Rosa walk. After your hike, reward yourself with a warming lunch at the Wineport restaurant, right next to the end of the hike. Here you will find beers from the neighbouring Arran brewery, nice wine, great comfort food and a superb cake selection. The perfect cure for tired legs the world over!
A quick five minute drive brings you back to the Brodick ferry terminal to begin the journey home.
Views from Goatfell mountain