Often referred to as a Scotland in Miniature, the Isle of Arran is situated off the coast of mainland Scotland just 50 miles west of Glasgow. It is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde and features craggy peaks, verdant forests, lush beaches, and fresh seafood. The island has an enviable diversity of flora and fauna, with three endemic species of tree. If you’re lucky, you might also see red squirrels, deer, golden eagles, otters, seals and basking sharks.
The Isle of Arran is divided into highland and lowland areas, separated by the Highland Boundary Fault. The hilly area on the north of the island around Sannox is often regarded a hiker’s paradise, for the number of trails and scrambles that weave in and out of the hillsides. The island’s highest peak is Goat Fell, though a surprisingly easy peak to tackle from Brodick. At 874m, the popular Goat Fell just misses out on the title of Munro and instead is one of four Corbetts on the island, the others being Beinn Tarsuinn, Caisteal Abhail and Cir Mhor.
As well as this hilly and rugged area of Sannox, the Isle of Arran features numerous beautiful coastal walks that take in views of the Isle of Bute, Kilbrannan Sound and Kintyre. The full coastal way is 109km and follows areas of rugged terrain, stunning beaches, the famous King’s Cave, and 12 of the island’s villages. Alternatively, see the Isle of Arran by sea, with sea-kayaking and sailing both popular activities on the island.
We think the perfect time to visit is Spring or Autumn, when temperatures are warm, crowds are light, and the infamous Scottish midges might not be so obtrusive! Arran is the perfect place to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature, whether it is beaches, hilltops or forests that you long for.
Hike | Moderate | Brodick
A wander down the beautiful Glen Rosa is an ideal way to spend an afternoon on Arran. With exceptional views in every direction, the track is well-marked and only moderately inclining, unless you decide to hike all the way up to Cìr Mhòr or to the Saddle, in which case the track will steepen as you approach. There are many hikes you can link with Glen Rosa, such as ascending Goatfell from Brodick and descending Glen Rosa, or hiking both Glen Rosa and Glen Sannox and returning via bus. On a warm Spring or Summer day, you could even go for a quick dip in the famous Blue Pool, distinctly marked by a large boulder that sits alongside the river. The water has an inviting blue/green tint, though is deceptively cold but ever so refreshing!
Getting there: From Brodick, head towards the Glen Rosa campsite. Park (free) in a small carpark on the lefthand side and follow the track into Glen Rosa.
Hike: You can link Glen Rosa with numerous other walks.Option 1) Start in Sannox and hike through Glen Sannox to the Saddle, descend via Glen Rosa and take a bus back to Sannox. Option 2) Start in Brodick and ascend Goatfell, head across to North Goatfell before descending through Glen Rosa (or reverse). Option 3) Hike through Glen Rosa, take a path that branches left and ascend Cìr Mhòr, descend to the Saddle then follow Glen Rosa back to the start of your route.
Gear: We would always recommend walking boots when hiking in Scotland due to the rough and sometimes boggy terrain. It can be very windy in Glen Rosa so bring a warm jacket and raincoat.
Mara Fish Bar & Deli
Cafe | Corrie
Situated in the little village of Corrie, Mara Fish Bar & Deli serves up some of the island’s best, fresh seafood from local suppliers. The bar and deli delivers made-to-order seafood in a casual environment, with both indoor and outdoor seating just across the road from the pretty Corrie beach. While on the menu you can try things like their delicious Arran langoustines with a smoked paprika, coriander and garlic butter, the deli serves up fresh sandwiches made with bread from Blackwater Bakehouse and fresh, locally sourced seafood you can take away to cook yourselves. There’s also a tempting Sunday Brunch menu, or pop in for some Glasgow-based Dear Green coffee and homemade cakes.
Getting there: From Brodick, head north up the east coast to the little village of Corrie where the fish bar is situated on the left hand side of the road.
Opening times: Open Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.00pm and Sunday 9.30am to 4.00pm (food is stopped serving half an hour before closing).
BlackwaterFoot Beach, The Doon Fort & King’s Cave
Site/Walk | 4 miles | Blackwaterfoot
Situated in the small village of Blackwaterfoot on the west coast of the island is a wild and beautiful beach, with views looking onto the Mull of Kintyre. The beach features a wide expanse of golden sand, interspersed with interesting, ancient rocks, and backed by a golf-course. From the beach, it is possible to walk onto the hillside and head towards the Doon Fort, an impressive wall of 30 metre high columnar cliffs. Pass the Doon Fort, and the path then heads down towards a pebbly beach. After 2 miles in total (from Blackwaterfoot) you’ll find the King’s Cave, said to have been the refuge of King Robert the Bruce. The cave has interested carvings and sandstone rock formations to admire. Walk back the same way for a lovely and interesting 4 miles walk in total.
Getting there: Park adjacent to the golf course in Blackwaterfoot. Walk past the golfcourse and onto the hillside to join the coastal path to the fort.
The String Road
drive | Brodick to Blackwaterfoot | 11 miles
One of the lovely things about Arran is that there really aren’t many roads. The main road follows the coast all the way around the island, and then there is one road that cross from East to West. This road is 11 miles long and known as “The String Road”. It is gently undulating and filled with beautiful moorland and coastal views; certainly worth a drive to travel from Brodick to Blackwaterfoot while on the island. Take a visit to the Blackwater Bakehouse while you’re there!
Getting there: From Brodick, follow signs for Blackwaterfoot to join The Strong Road, follow for 11 miles until the coast comes into site.
Cruickshanks Boutique B&B
B&B | Whiting Bay
The lovely Cruickshanks Boutique B&B in Whiting Bay is an idyllic and luxurious place to stay when spending time on the Isle of Arran. Cosy up in one of their three rooms; the Honeysuckle Room, Whimsical Room or Pearl Suite, each designed uniquely with ensuite bathrooms and indulgent Arran Aromatics toiletries to make you smell as good as you feel. Enjoy an evening drink in the traditional Ceilidh room downstairs, before heading into Whiting Bay for a sunset beach stroll and dinner, with stunning views onto Holy Isle.
Breakfast is certainly an occasion not to be missed at Cruickshanks, as fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are cooked up to create a delicious made-to-order breakfast. Choose from hot or cold dishes, such as the homemade granola, traditional Scottish breakfast, or smoked haddock and poached eggs.
Cruickshanks is a wonderful base when staying on Arran, as it is close to some of the islands best southern beaches, but only a half hour drive from the rugged hills of the north of the island. Owners, Nanette and Rob, are also incredibly knowledgable of many activities you can partake in on Arran; from sea-kayaking to hiking, golf to whiskey tours. Alternatively, you can spend a lazy afternoon relaxing in their beautiful garden, with breathtaking views onto the Firth of Clyde.
Getting there: Cruickshanks B&B is situated up the hill from Whiting Bay, just a 15 minute drive from Brodick, where the ferries land.
Stay: Prices range from £120 to £190 per night, depending on your room. Book online here.