With the sweeping grandeur of its hills and mountains in the north, and tranquil pasture and moorlands in the south, Arran is frequently described as Scotland in Miniature. It has a long history as a popular destination, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors.
Food and Drink
The island has also acquired a reputation amongst lovers of good food and drink. There is both a distillery and a brewery located here, and a number of quality food brands have been developed locally, from cheeses to chocolate, organically grown vegetables to farm-reared meat, and ice-creams to oatcakes. For more details visit A Taste of Arran. Brodick boast’s the island’s newest bistro, Fiddlers’ Music Bar & Bistro, a real favourite amongst music lovers. There is live played throughout the week.
Woodland, coastal, glen and mountain walks are all on offer. Each is unique and many give you a taste of Arran’s diversity of natural habitat, wildlife and rich history. Seals, dolphins, red deer, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, otters and red squirrels can all be seen around the island. Sightings of porpoise and basking sharks are also fairly common, and if you’re lucky you might spot a killer whale!
Arts and Crafts
There is an extensive range of hand-crafted goods available on the island. Many of the craft showrooms, as well as welcoming visitors, are working businesses. We have candlemakers, wood carvers, silver and goldsmiths, silk painting artists, painters of fine art and stained glass makers to name but a few. In Lamlash there is a Craft Gallery devoted almost entirely to Arran crafts, so rich is the variety.
You’ll find the pace of life on Arran very relaxing and there are many treatments and alternative therapies to choose from for those who wish to unwind. Try the Auchrannie Spa, or one of the independent practitioners. Arran is the home of Arran Aromatics, famous the world over for its aromatherapy and toiletry products.
Only ten minutes by ferry from Lamlash, the island has a long sacred history with an ancient healing spring, the hermit-cave of 6th century monk, St Moliase, and evidence of a 13th century monastery. Now under the stewardship of the Samye Ling Buddhist Community, this island has become a focus for work and courses on environment, peace and spirituality. More information is available at www.holyisland.org or by calling 01770 601100
History and Heritage
There are numerous prehistoric monuments, many dating from the Bronze Age, around 4000 years old. The most interesting examples can be seen on Machrie Moor where the enigmatic stone circles, remains of burial chambers and hut foundations lie. The Vikings inhabited the island for centuries and many place names are of Norse origin. The first Christians, St Columba and St Ninian were said to have come to Arran, St Molio’s cave and the well on Holy Isle have been places of pilgrimage for centuries. King’s Cave near Blackwaterfoot, is said to be where Robert the Bruce was inspired by the determination of a small spider. The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, situated within as 18th century croft farm at Rosaburn, traces island life from the mists of time right up to the present day.
Other historic sites include Brodick and Lochranza Castle. Brodick Castle, former seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Parts of the stronghold date back as far as the 13th century, with later additions made over the years finishing with the Victorian Wing, built in the 1860s. It contains outstanding collections of silver, porcelain, antique furnishings and paintings. The stunning formal and woodland gardens are world famous for their rhododendron and azalea collections and are a joy to walk round.