An Arran Adventure, Part 2 | Exploring the island
Last week I showed you part 1 of our Arran adventure, in which, well, we didn’t actually leave the hotel, so today it’s time for day 2 – and you’ll be pleased to know that this time we did actually make it further than the spa!
On Sunday morning, we woke up to glorious sunshine, so after a quick breakfast in the hotel, we decided to head out to explore the island…
Arran is just a 50 minute ferry ride from the Scottish mainland, and it’s sometimes described as “Scotland in miniature,” because it contains everything from the kind of almost-mountain ranges you’d expect to see in the highlands, to the rolling hills and coastal towns of the lowlands and central belt. We disembarked the ferry in Brodick, which is where the Auchrannie Resort is located, but as the distance around the island is just 55 miles, you can easily fit quite a bit of sightseeing into a day trip.
We started our drive in Brodick, but almost immediately found ourselves pulling over to admire the view of Goat Fell and the surrounding hills from just outside the village. After that, our progress was slow – mostly because we had to keep on stopping to take photos and just stare at that view! Luckily, the people of Arran seem to have anticipated this, because almost everywhere we found ourselves saying, “Oooh, lookit that!” there would turn out to be either a handy bench, or a viewing area right next to it where we could park the car and wander around for a few minutes. Our first “proper” stop, however, was at Lochranza Caste, which is just one of the prettiest places ever:
The castle itself isn’t actually open at this time of year, but we still enjoyed a walk around it in the early spring sunshine, before popping into the nearby Arran Distillery to pick up some whisky for my dad: you can also do tours and tastings, but as neither of us are big whisky drinkers, we decided to press on to our next stop – the Machrie Moor Stone Circles.
Now, I’m just going to hold my hands up here and admit that, when Terry told me he wanted us to walk a couple of miles (each way) to see some old stones in the middle of a moor, I was a bit like, “Well, if we absolutely MUST, I suppose…” I mean, I’m not really the outdoors type – to put it mildly – and I was anticipating it being cold and wet all weekend long, so, as you can see, I’d packed accordingly, and had a pair of wellies, a thick parka and a woolly hat stashed in the car, for this very part of the trip:
As it turned out, though, the joke was on me, because the sun was so warm on our backs that, by the time we reached the standing stones, I was having to carry that coat and hat:
Despite my initial reservations, the standing stones turned out to be well worth the walk – and really quite magical. I remember visiting Stone Henge once as a little girl, and being a bit disappointed, because I’d expected to feel the magic of the place, but although the stones themselves were impressive, obviously, even back then, the place was so over-run with tourists, and souvenir shops, and cafes and the like, that it ended up feeling really quite ordinary. (And don’t you just hate that?) Machrie Moor, by contrast, is NOTHING like that: and while the standing stones themselves are nowhere near as large, or as impressive, as some of the ones you’ll see elsewhere in the world, the location makes them extra-special.
As I mentioned in one of my Instagram stories, Terry and I had the place to ourselves most of the time we were up there, and the thing that struck us most was the sheer silence. Seriously, we couldn’t even heard the sound of the wind (Which is reeeeaallly unusual for Scotland), or the chirp of birdsong: it was the most peaceful place I’ve ever been, and as the stone circles (there are six of them altogether) have been there for thousands of years (without anyone really discovering why), it kind of made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a bit, to stand among them, knowing that someone else had stood in that exact spot, more than 3,000 years before me, looking at exactly the same view. As I said, it was well worth the walk, and if you’re visiting Arran, I’d definitely recommend it.
Once we were back at the car, our thoughts had once again started to turn towards our stomachs, so we made a couple more stops to admire the views, before heading back to Brodick and our hotel. On our final night, we ate in the third of Auchrannie’s restaurants -the wonderful Brambles Seafood Grill. Unfortunately, the low lighting finally defeated my iPhone, so my photos from here are even worse than my usual standard of food photography, but I think this was probably my favourite meal of the weekend: I had the best portobello mushroom and halloumi burger I’ve ever tasted (Seriously, I’m still thinking about it a week later…), while Terry went for the steak, and,as good as the food was, I should add here that the staff at the resort really went out of their way to make our stay a good one, so huge thanks to them for that.
The next morning, we had breakfast in bed, before reluctantly checking out and heading for the ferry port. I have a feeling we’ll be back again before too long, though…
(P.S. Auchrannie Resort are currently running a competition on Instragram to find couples and families to star in a photoshoot at the resort. To enter – and win an overnight stay – just post your photos using the hashtag #AuchrannieModels – good luck!)
[Thanks again to Auchrannie Resort for hosting our stay on Arran!]