Having visited the small isles off the west coast of Scotland in 2008, it was fair to say I was hooked, and with a long weekend at the end of summer on the horizon, it was an obvious choice of where to spend it.
What wasn’t so easy was choosing which island to explore as the west coast features so many, from the larger islands of Mull, to the smaller isles such as Eigg & Muck.
After a few hours of scouring the map it seemed that the best choice would be to head to the southern isles so hours to keep time spent travelling to a minimum, and so Arran, the most southerly of the Scottish islands, won the draw.
Arriving into Brodick Bay gave a real feel for the diversity of the Island, there was so much going on which provided a really nice atmosphere. I drove through Brodick past the castle and north to Lochranza, stopping along the way to take in the views and have a look around. After a brief stop at Lochranza Castle it was back in the car and a drive down the west coast of the island again making many a stop at various places including the enchanting Machrie standing stones, one of the many intriguing stone circles on the island, all surrounded in myth and legend, one such explanation telling of fairies sitting on one of the peaks and throwing pebbles down to the moor below. It is said that these pebbles became the standing stones. Other folklore suggests the stones circles cover the graves of fallen comrades of the mythical heroes Fingal & Fheinn whom led the Celts to win the battle against the Viking raiders on the Machrie Moor. (http://www.glenislehotel.com/myths_legends.aspx)
The next day I had booked in for sea kayaking with Arran Adventure so I was up early and made my way to Brodick Bay. Once on the water we kayaked around the coast taking in the view of Arran from the water. At this point we were able to see the extensive birdlife, with gannets dive bombing around us, peregrines soaring over the crags and were even joined by a dog otter, who spent a good deal of time swimming in-between our kayaks.
The rest of the evening was spent exploring the coast & running with the wildlife of which is abundant on Arran, before making my way back to the campsite at Kildonan.
Once on the Island I took a walk down the coast line which leads past the healing spring, St Molaise’s Cave and also features stones painted with Buddhist deities along the way. This was both beautiful and strange as it did not feel that you were on an island of the coast of Scotland, well, not until I came into contact with the Eriskay ponies, Soay sheep and Saanen goats.
It is no surprise that Arran is described as ‘Scotland in miniature’, as it features pretty much every type of landscape, culture, wildlife that you would find on the mainland but all in one place. The amount of time I spent there on this trip didn’t even scratch the surface of what the Island has to offer. As I left the campsite the next morning to make my way back to Brodick to catch the ferry back to the mainland, I had no doubt I would return. Whether for another long weekend, a week or fortnight, there is so much to do and so much more to explore on this Island.