The Islands - Firth of Clyde

The Isle of Arran - amd others when I get there...

If you're looking for the Aran Islands, rather than the Isle of Arran, they're in Ireland.
I've been there, too - you can see my pictures here!

For other Scottish Islands, see:


Isle of Arran

Arran lies in the Firth of Clyde, downriver from Glasgow and between the Kintyre Peninsula on the West and Ayrshire on the East. It's sometimes called "Scotland in Miniature" because the Highland Boundary Fault runs through the middle of the island. The north end of Arran, to the right in the picture above, is steep and rocky like the Highlands. The south end is more gentle and rolling, like the Lowlands and Borders. I visited in 2016, and found both ends to beautiful. 

Blackwaterfoot is a neat little hamlet on the west coast of Arran. Clustered around a small harbour, it's got a small store, a hotel with quite good food, and the UK's only 12-hole golf course. 
The Laighbent B&B in Blackwaterfoot was my home for my three nights on the island, and a very pleasant home it was.

The Blackwater, which flows into the Clyde at Blackwaterfoot

Blackwaterfoot Harbour

Drumadoon Point, overlooking Blackwaterfoot, is the site of an Iron Age hill fort (the "Doon"). A single standing stone on the top of the Point is the only obvious evidence of human habitation - pretty much everything else is buried under chin-high ferns. It's well worth the walk just for the view. 

View from Drumadoon Point, overlooking Blackwaterfoot, the bay and beach, and the 12 hole golf course

Drumadoon Point from the north - the cliffs are the same columnar basalt as on the island of Staffa (home of Fingal's Cave) and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. The Doon sits on top.

Brodick Castle, located just north of Brodick town. 

Formal garden at Brodick Castle

There are two ferries on the summer run from Ardrossan to Brodick, and they pass each other at mid-crossing. Here, the Caledonian Isles passes in front of Ailsa Craig, the island where most of the world's curling stones are quarried.

Boats aground at low tide in Brodick Harbour

Sunset over the Kintyre Peninsula, view from Blackwaterfoot Beach

Glenashdale Falls is a steep walk from Whiting Bay on the east coast of Arran...

... but the view of the double falls is well worth the effort.

A Mountain Hare at Drumadoon

An Oystercatcher and a juvenile Gull on the rocks near Machrie

Kilmory beach, with an Easter Island-like statue left by an earlier tourist. 

Kildonan Beach with the island of Pladda just off the south coast of Arran, and Ailsa Craig in the distance.

Black-and-white cows, yellow flowers, green grass and blue water...

Torrylin Cairn near Lagg on the south coast of Arran is a prehistoric chambered tomb. 
It's a pleasant walk from Lagg down to Kilmory Water, overlooking the Firth of Clyde with Ailsa Craig and Ayrshire beyond.

The entrance to King's Cave. By tradition, this is the cave where Robert the Bruce took shelter while he was in exile, driven out by the English. The story says that while he was in this cave, he watched a spider climbing and being knocked down and climbing again - and from the spider, he took the lesson that one should always persevere.

The wall carvings include a cross in a flower and a human figure, among others. 

There's no real support for this being the actual cave the Bruce stayed in - or for the story about the spider, either. The name "King's Cave" wasn't applied to this cave until centuries later, and it's likely that Sir Walter Scott invented the story, as he did so much of Scottish folklore - but no matter. The wall carvings - long predating the Bruce - are worth the hike anyway. 

Lochranza Castle dates from the 13th century.

Lochranza, on the north end of the island, is the port for a small seasonal ferry to Kintyre

The Ross - this is the second east-west road across Arran, and very much the lesser of the two. The Ross is a single track with passing places which offers a very scenic but slow crossing.

Beautiful views of Machrie Bay can be found on the trail through the Tor Righ Beag Forest to the King's Cave. 

Sunset on the rocks of Machrie Beach

Sunset over Machrie Bay, with Kintyre on the horizon

Sunset on Machrie Bay

Whiting Bay is the former ferry terminal for Arran. The Holy Isle is across the harbour. 

Another attraction in Lochranza is the Arran Distillery. The tour ends with a tasting of Arran Gold, the very tasty cream liqueur made at the distillery.

Machrie Moor on the west side of Arran is known for prehistoric standing stones and stone circles, with eleven different sites. 

A short hike across the moor from the car park leads past deserted Moss Farm.

Stone circle at Site 1

Standing Stones at Site 3

Another Standing Stone at Site 3

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Photos 1996-2016 Copyright Mike Brown