The stunning Isle of Arran is known by many as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, as it encompasses many of the beautiful features to be found across mainland Scotland. This is due to the island’s two very distinct geographical sides. Caused by the Highland Boundary Fault, the island is split into a mountainous highland north and a green lowland south, is populated by Scotland’s Big 5 species and has some fascinating ancient castles. Although there is so much to see on the Isle of Arran, it is the perfect destination for a short break and a true taste of Scotland!
On the Isle of Arran you will find the splendid Victorian Brodick Castle, as well as a number of other impressive ruins just waiting to be explored. Brodick was the former estate of the dukes of Hamilton, with the current red sandstone building being constructed in 1844. It’s important strategic position overlooking the Firth of Clyde has made it a formidable presence over the centuries, with there being a continuous presence on the site since the 5th century AD. Brodick Castle is now run by the National Trust for Scotland and offers a fascinating insight into the history of the island through the castle’s beautiful interiors and objects. There is also plenty to be discovered in the castle’s garden and many woodland trails bursting with wildlife. Keep an eye out for the elusive red squirrel and many different species of birds! To the north of the island on the coast sits another memorable monument. Perched on a peninsula looking out into Loch Arran, the iconic 13th century Lochranza Castle is a breathtaking sight! This fortified medieval hall house is now an empty but atmospheric ruin and is said to be the inspiration for the castle in Tintin’s Black Island adventure.
Hiking and Cycling
At the top of your things to do on the Isle of Arran should be exploring its spectacular landscape. With its varied geography, the Isle of Arran offers wonderful hiking and cycling trails! It is a great opportunity to see the wild red deer, golden eagles, red squirrels, otters and seals across this richly endowed island. There are many different trails for you to explore and there is also the option of a guided hike. Some of our favourite trails are in the lowland south of the island, where you can discover waterfalls, ancient cairns and romantic woodlands. Take the Glenashdale Falls Trail and come face to face with one of the island’s most striking waterfalls, as well as some impressive sea views! Keen cyclists should check out the Dyemill to Kilmory cycle route, which gives fabulous views of the islands tallest mountain, Goatfell, and even Ireland over a varied 9.4 miles.
After your hiking and cycling it is definitely time for a well earnt rest and where better than some time on one of Arran’s picturesque beaches? There are many to choose from and each has its own benefits. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Silver Sands in Kildonan, to the south is a fabulous sandy beach at the bottom of a cliff. It has some wonderful views and if you are lucky you can even catch a glimpse of some seals on the beach catching the sun! To the west of the island you will find the long sandy beach of Blackwaterfoot. It is a great beach for a relaxed walk with great views of the neighboring mainland peninsula. If you are up for trying something a bit different and truly getting back to nature, then why not head to Scotland’s first official naturist beach, Cleats Shore, on the south west tip of the island? Experience the beauty of Scotland in a new way and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Emerald Isle.
Food and Drink
While a small island, Arran makes a fantastic array of its own quality products from traditional whiskey to the less traditional brie! If you want to try something a bit different, you can enjoy many different types of delicious game meat during your stay, all sourced locally from the island’s bountiful nature. Cheese aficionados have to explore the Island of Arran Cheese Shop in Brodick, where, as well as Arran Mist (the brie!), you can try Arran Blue and Arran Camembert, all produced by Bellevue Creamery in Blackwaterfoot. If you want to try a traditional tipple then you can head to Lochranza in the north to the island’s last distillery, Isle of Arran Distillers, for some fine Arran Malt whiskey. It is possible to take a tour and learn all about the process of producing Scotland’s national drink, with of course a chance to try some! The attached Casks Cafe also has many different whiskeys you can try and some amazing local produce. If you are more of a beer drinker, you are in luck! The Isle of Arran brewery in Cladach produces an award winning blonde beer, brewed from the unique local water to create a fine craft beer.
Isle of Arran Ferry
Now you know the places you have to visit, but how do you get there with your campervan or motorhome hire? There are regular ferry services from different points from mainland Scotland, which allow both motorhomes and campervans onboard. Caledonian MacBrayne run frequent ferries from Ardrossan and Campbeltown to Brodick (takes around 55 minutes) on Arran and from Tarbert and Claonaig to Lochranza (takes around 30 minutes) . This provides you with the exciting opportunity of touring the island and continuing your road trip on a different part of the mainland! Arran ferry prices vary by the length of the motorhome and it is necessary to purchase a separate ticket for the driver and the vehicle. Each passenger must also have their own ticket. Tickets cost between £16 and £32 for a single ticket, with no discount for return tickets.
Places to Stay in Arran
Arran is a stunning holiday destination and deciding where to stay to make the most of what it has to offer is no easy task! Now that you know the must see sights and the Arran ferry prices, you are ready to find the ideal place to camp! We have included below a list of our favourite places to stay in Arran to help you make your decision.
Lochranza Caravan and Camping Site
Lochranza Caravan and Camping Site is situated in a stunningly dramatic location in the north of Arran where the mountains tumble down to the sea and where red deer and golden eagles roam. Visitors will find themselves in a beautiful National Scenic Area and an important site for nature conservation, with the campsite having earned a Gold Green Tourism Award. It is the perfect spot from which to explore region around Lochranza and the north of the island. Lochranza castle and loch are just a 10 minute walk away and the Arran Distillery and Lochranza golf course (campsite guests receive special offers) are nearby. There are level grass pitches, hardstandings, electric hook-ups, hot showers, lovely toilets, laundry facilities and a chemical toilet disposal point.
Middleton’s Caravan & Camping Park
In the south-east of the island you will find Middleton’s Caravan and Camping Park in the lovely little village of Lamlash. The village has a picturesque beach with stunning views over to mainland Scotland and is the perfect base for exploring the south and within easy distance of Brodick. The campsite has great shower facilities, offers laundry services and allows dogs. You are sure have a lovely time on this beautifully manicured site!
Seal Shore Camping
A Small Campsite of the Year 2017-2018 award winner, Seal Shore Camping on the south coast of Arran is beautiful place to camp! There is a private beach and amazing views over to Pladda Island with its lighthouse and you can even spot the coast of Northern Ireland. The site is also a wonderful location to explore the local wildlife with otters, gannets, porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks and grey seals all to be found nearby. If you stay here you will also receive a reduced fare on the ferry services! Facilities include 10 electric hook-ups, a chemical toilet disposal point, WiFi, covered BBQ area, a laundry room and an on-site shop.
On the Isle of Arran you can see the best that Scotland has to offer and all in one place, making it a fantastic place to visit! A road trip across this stunning place is a great way to embark on your Arran adventure. Why not hire a campervan or motorhome through Goboony from one of our private owners? There are many different options available, so you are sure to find the ideal vehicle for your road trip!