Travel stories (physical)

Arran – travel information

Arran is an island located in the Firth of Clyde off the west coast of Scotland, and is nearly 20 miles long and 10 miles wide.  Visit Arran’s own website also gives a lot of information to help plan your trip to and on the island – http://www.visitarran.com/

TIP: If you are planning to stay in Arran over the winter and is staying away from the main town areas e.g. you have rented a cottage away from the biggest areas, remember to bring a torch! Often there are no street lighting.

Though there are often no separate pavements for pedestrians, locals still walk along via the roads, however in winter they will walk wearing large fluorescent jackets, fluorescent bands and carry large and high light emitting torches to make them more visible to vehicle users in an otherwise pitch dark street.

Getting there: 

arran
Photo courtesy of Calmac ferries

As Arran is an island it can only be reached by ferry, unless of course you charter or fly your own aircraft. For everyone else the ferries which go to Arran include:

      1. Ardrossan to Brodick (Arran)

      2. Tarbet to Lochranza (Arran) – Winter timetable

      3. Claonaig to Lochranza (Arran) – Summer timetable

Tickets can be bought from Calmac ferries website, along with timetable for these ferry crossings. Take care when making bookings as Scotland works on a winter and summer timetable. Many things are deemed off season and are closed from November to March time (winter), or run at a reduced rate.

If you are planning on visiting via the north west e.g. Oban, Fort William and heading southwards, it is ideal to visit Arran via Tarbet. In the summer the ferry runs from Claonaig to Arran. Both are an approximate 30 minute ferry crossing.

arran2bferry

If you are visiting via any other direction it’s easiest to cross onto Arran via Ardrossan, which is an approximate 50 minute ferry crossing.

If you do not have a car then Ardrossan harbour can be reached via Scotrail (train).  Scotrail offers frequent journeys to Adrossan harbour.

Bus: There are bus services on the island and the timetable can be found on SPT bus service website. At the time of writing this is the winter bus timetable – http://www.spt.co.uk/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Arran-Area-Transport-Guide-Winter-2016-17.pdf

Things to do: 

Cyclists:

(Road)

As the island is not very big it is the perfect challenge if you wish to cycle around an island and only have a short few days to do it in. With the undulating hills in which the roads are also situated, you’ll not be stuck being bored cycling along flat grounds!  The island itself is approximately 56 miles round.

(MTB)

There are also a few off road biking trails to choose from with differing levels from leisure to the more hardcore crazy cyclists out there.

Arran’s bike club offers a list and map of all routes on their website – http://www.arranbikeclub.com/routes

TIP: in winter many places are closed for the season so if you need to hire bike and/or equipment please arrange ahead of time. When cycling please be courteous to other road and pavement users.

Walkers:

coastal2bview
Coastal walk down to the King’s caves at Blackwaterfoot

Arran offers plenty, and differing levels of hiking for all types of walkers whether it is conquering the island’s highest peak, Goatfell to walking along a beach and visiting caves. For us hikers in Scotland the Walk Highlands website is a great source from map directions, grading of walks and directions on how to get there and what to expect as descriptions are written by other hikers.  For specific walks on Arran the web page is https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/arran/

Also because the walk descriptions are written by other hikes, some information maybe a little off, in that some detail maybe missed, is missing or no longer up to date.  Please factor this into your plans.  Neither the less this website is great to get you planning started!

TIP: When hiking please also ensure that you have the appropriate equipment as Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, so much so that we could experience all four seasons in five minutes. For those of you who have come across some of my posts on hiking, remember I experienced a heat wave at the end of March and a snow blizzard at the end of May in my 2016 hiking season!

For the more leisurely walker there is also Brodick Castle, Garden and Country Park and Machrie Moor stone circle.  The Castle and garden has admission fees and is usually closed for winter but the Country Park remains open all year and is free to use.  Machrie Moor stone circle is free to use and is gotten to by parking at the car park at the bottom of the farm and walking through the fields.

stone2bcircle
One of many ‘stones’ at Machrie Moor stone circles

Do not worry, it is perfectly acceptable to walk through farm fields in Scotland, however please note our outdoor code when doing so e.g. if you are bringing dogs please keep them on a leash due to the livestock, mainly sheep and sometimes cows which graze the land.  Also be courteous by helping close any gates which you have opened, following signs where given, keep to paths where available to reduce erosion and take away any rubbish you bring with you.

Don’t forget to also visit:

Isle of Arran Cheese ShopArran Aromatics and try the James of Arran handmade choclates while you’re there.  The cheese and aromatics stores are located next to each and situated near the Brodick Castle entrance a little further out from the main town of Brodick, while the chocolate shop is located along the main street.  Though I mention shops are located further out of Brodick away from the main street, this is still no more than ten, maybe fifteen minute walk, depending on where within this town you are.  Keep in mind the whole island is not even 20 miles long!

Read: My road trip to Arran

*Note all information was corrrect at time of writing but may have altered over time. Please check with the appropriate public transport systems and information points for the most up to date information.
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