Arran is described as a miniature Scotland with its hills, coastal villages and pretty scenery. Discover some of the things I recommend doing on a visit to Arran.
I’d recommend if you have the time to drive or catch the bus and try to see the whole of Arran, it’s definitely do-able in a weekend. The scenery can change quickly from sandy beaches at Whiting Bay to the mountainous Lochranza which is something to see in all seasons.
Eas Mor Waterfall and Loch Garbad
Starting from the small car park, we walked to an information board where there is a map and followed the path. The walk to the waterfall was quick however thanks to the sunny day, it felt like we were in the middle of a jungle somewhere with all the leafy trees and the sun streaming down on us. The waterfall didn’t have a lot of water as it had been unusually warm!
We then followed a sign to continue our walk to Loch Garbad which was a mile away.
The route took us across a flat path where we saw lots of birds and stopped every few minutes to see what we could spot. Nearer to the loch, the path goes a bit gravelly and uphill slightly.
Once at Loch Garbad, it feels like a reward as there was nobody else there and the sun was hitting off the loch giving us lots of beautiful colours. There’s a picnic bench at the loch where we sat and admired the view.
From there, I spotted a trig point on my OS Maps app – so we decided to walk through the trees next to the loch however we realised it was a lot further away so reversed and walked back the way we had came and found a different way into the woods.
This trig point is probably my favourite so far as it was definitely an adventure to find it and once we had found it, it looked like a prize as it’s gleaming white which is a big contrast to the dark green shadow of the forest.
After we bagged the trig point, we came back but turned left near the 1 mile to Loch Garbad sign as this way took us back to the car park but we would also pass the library.
The eco library is unusual as when inside, you’ll see that it’s covered in paper – you’re encouraged to write or draw something and attach it to the walls or ceiling. There were lots of messages; love letters, poems, quotes, drawings.
Visit The Honesty Box at Clachaig Farm
Visible from the side of the road – visit this honesty box for eggs, vegetables, potatoes and meat. I loved the painted sign on the hut – really stood out as you’re passing! You’ll find The Honesty Box on the A841, just before you reach Lagg from the west side.
Lochranza is my favourite place on Arran – there’s just something very atmospheric about it and probably also because there are deer!
It’s worth the short walk up to Lochranza Castle which has been around since the 13th century and is now cared for by Historic Scotland.
Hidden behind the hotel at Blackwaterfoot, there’s a little honesty bread shed where you can pick up loaves, cinnamon buns, madeleines – all kinds of cake! We bought a cardamom bun and orange polenta cake to eat at the beach – it was divine. Luckily we had cash on us but there are details to do a bank transfer if you get there and have forgotten change.
Most of the time we’ve visited Arran, it’s been before Brodick Castle re-opened. I was lucky that we visited Arran in October so actually got to have a wander around the castle. If you find yourself in Arran before the castle is open, I’d definitely recommend checking out the impressive gardens. There are some art installations to look out for in the gardens and a beautiful summer house. Inside, the volunteers were very knowledgeable and passionate about the castle with lots of stories to tell that you wouldn’t find in the guide book.
When you go towards the exit of the castle, keep your eye out for some cute horses in the field next to the road.
Brodick Castle is close by to the ferry port so it might be a good one to visit if you’ve got some hours spare before you can board the ferry. It’s also run by National Trust, you’ll get in for free if you have a membership.
Have a picnic on a beach
One of the great things about Arran is that there are a few beaches to choose from and that they tend to not be bustling with people so you’ll most likely get a nice quiet spot to sit at.
We visited the beach at Blackwaterfoot and at Whiting Bay – both have public toilets thanks to the volunteers who have kept them up and running.
At Whiting Bay on the beach you have a good view of the Holy Isle.
The Twelve Apostles
In Catacol, there’s a row of fishermen’s cottages where each top window is different. This is so when the fishermen were out at sea, their wives would light a candle and they could see which house was signalling.
Shop at Arran Aromatics
I thought it was only right to visit the shop in its namesake! Arran Aromatics is next to the Island Cheese Shop and a little cafe which does good sandwiches and toasties. The shop does soap making classes Monday to Thursday between 10am and 12pm and then from 2pm to 4pm.
Have lunch at Cafe Thyme
Cafe Thyme is part of the Old Byre shop and visitor centre near Machrie. It was a busy cafe with people sitting outside to make the most of the glorious weather we had. The cafe isn’t the cheapest however it is so worth the money for the food and the service is great. We chose pides which are a Turkish pizza which honestly I would choose over pizza any day – it also came with a massive salad bowl for us to share.
More things to do
- Auchrannie Resort – fancy a spa break? This family-friendly hotel has two swimming pools and three restaurants and is situated in Brodick, not far from the ferry terminal.
- Walk an alpaca with Arran Alpacas – they’re extremely cute and you could make a stay of it on their glamping site.
- Arran Heritage Museum – Discover what life was like in the past on Arran and trace your family history – they have genealogists on site to help and you can arrange (for a small fee) for them to provide you with family history!
- Visit Holy Isle – the Centre for World Health and Peace is at the north of the isle where people can stay for retreats. Day visitors can help themselves to free tea and coffee at the centre before embarking on one of the walks.
Things to know
- There’s a co-op supermarket in Brodick and also a smaller co-op in Lamlash
- For cash machines, you’ll find them in Brodick at the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Scotland
- Arran is only 20 miles long and 10 miles wide
- SPT run buses in Arran which tend to coincide with the ferry arrivals. For taxis, there’s Arran Motors.
- On the west of Arran you can get a ferry to the Kintyre peninsula.
Each town and village in Arran is so unique, if you haven’t been before I highly recommend it – it’s so much easier to get to than you realise especially by public transport!