Isle of Arran or a concentrate of Scotland

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The view from Brodick

I spent two days on this island with a friend who came to visit me in Edinburgh. She stayed 5 days and asked me if we can leave Edinburgh for few days to see some landscapes : We decided to go on Arran. From Edinburgh it is so easy to go there.

Unfortunately we didn’t plan too early so we had to camp, we choose wild camping, a first time for me, we choose to put our tent in the beautiful Glen Rosa.

On the island itself public transports are terrible, they fit the ferries, so in high season around one every 3h…not so easy when you don’t have a car or a bike!!

 

Day one : Let go!

My friend arrived the previous evening so we took the morning to explore Edinburgh, I decided to make her discover Old Town, we approximately did the walking tours I do with my customers, with some extras : departure from Grassmarket with a latte at Pumpkin Brown, Flodden Wall and the Vennel (classic instagram! ^^’), then Herriot Watt School and the Meadows before arriving to Greyfriars Kirkyard and his ghost stories (Hiya Bloody MacKenzie), inspiration for Harry Potter with names on graves and wee Greyfriars Bobby. After that we returned to the Royal Mile through Victoria Street and the West Bow, a wee detour by the castle esplanade and the Tartan manufacture in activity (for once! Usually when I go there the machines did not work), before walking down the street, a wee visit of the ex-cathedral St Giles and visit of a Close to explain her the living conditions in Edinburgh until the end of the XIXth Century. Before lunch we went to Pinnies & Poppy Seeds for some shortbread (the best in town!!), we packed our stuffs, grab some baked potatoes at the Baked Potatoes Shop, and meet my friend for a picnic on the Princes Street Garden.

1pm…it’s time to leave, direction the bus station to Glasgow (1h20). Once in Glasgow we didn’t had a lot of time so we just walked a little in the city centre until the departure of our train to Ardrossan (1h), with luck we catch the previous train. Ferries match pretty well with trains so we barely wait for it. Once on board the journey last 1h. So in 3h or so we arrive from Edinburgh to Brodick on the Isle of Arran.

For diner we took a fish & chips and eat it in front of the ferry terminal, watching three tourists who missed the last one, not so funny when you know that almost everything was booked on the island. After that we decide to leave for Glen Rosa, by dusk, without knowing exactly where we go! After one walking hour we finally arrived, at that point it was completely dark and obviously we hadn’t any light (so smart!! –‘), a nice couple helped us with the tent and lights. Two minutes after the rain started, but whatever we were inside, au sec!

 

Day two : Now we can talk business…or that what we thought!!

The beginning of the day start pretty well, no more rain or wind (during the night, some pigs start to go off the ground because of it! =/). As the castle open only at 11am we decide to visit the local shops, all located in two places, five minutes away from each other, really convenient! In the first one we visited the Arran Aromatics (cruelty-free) and the Cheese shop, both delicious but for different (sense of smell and taste) reasons. On our way to the castle we booked a guided tour at the Arran brewery for the next day, just in case! The brewery is at the second location with other traditional shops (pottery and leather workshop). We find a wee path under trees that goes to the castle; in fact we were in the garden without knowing it. At the ticket office we discovered the bad news : Brodick castle is closed for renovations for a year!! Damned I took the National Trust for Scotland’s membership just before this trip to enjoy the castle for free!! –‘

At that point we decide to join the closest bus stop to go earlier to Lochranza, the second village we wanted to go and where the distillery is. Unfortunately the next bus stop was one hour and half from the castle (walking distance), we didn’t know and we walked to the next village : Corrie. Once in the bus (pretty expensive!) we enjoyed the fabulous landscape of the north of the island, we were transported through the Highlands!

After barely 10min we were in Lochranza on our way to the distillery, we booked a tour and go to the café until the visit starts for eating something. We choose a plate full of products made on the island : smoked salmon, smoked ham, different kind of cheese and chutney. People in the Café were so lovely and nice but it’s time for the tour, our guide was a delight, she have a strong Scottish accent but really easy to understand.

Then we had a walk in the village, meet some sheep and red deer right in the middle of the village, free just like that, why not. After a heavy rain we decided to go back to the distillery where we waited the bus. For dinner we planned to go to Eighteen 69, a fancy restaurant in a hotel and spa complex, opened only from Thursday to Sunday evening. The concept is pretty original : Scottish food with the shape of a tapas!! Really nice, not too expensive in comparison with the frame around the restaurant and so tasty, not such a huge range of vegetarian option but great anyway. Time to leave and go back to the tent, by night as usual! Once arrived we had the pleasure to notice that we had some new neighbours who decided to put their tent 2m from ours…in a desert glen!! When they came back around midnight they had the good idea to start chatting…really loud around a bonfire, after a while others campers asked them to speak less loud…thank to them!!

 

Day three : almost the end!!

The last morning we wake up freezing because of the dry night we had (yes yes!) and with the good smell of sausages, oh wait, our favourite neighbours, again!! We finally can saw how closed they were, seriously! On our way to the brewery, we decided to take a breakfast at Janie’s it wasn’t what I expected and I ended with a cheese scone (really good by the way!), my friend took a fruit scone with a cup of hot chocolate, I recognized the brand – Whittard of Chelsea – and told her we have a shop in Edinburgh, and we definitely have to go there (we did and she bring back some hot chocolate with her in Paris). Last detour at the Arran Aromatics shop and at the cheese shop (yes again…)!

Once at the brewery we learn that we will be only two, not a problem, even better! That’s the first time I visit a brewery, I really enjoyed it, our guide was really nice, friendly and he explained really well how to brew a nice beer. If you can put your hands one the Red Squirrels go for it, it’s my favourite and a part of the benefices goes to a charity that protect the red squirrels.

After a wee walk on the beach it’s time to go back to the tent, fold it and walk back to Brodick. We grabbed a lunch at Little Rock, simple, filling and delicious : toasty Arran cheese and sundried tomatoes and a maple and pecan slice for dessert…AMAZINGLY GOOD! A wee stop on a bench watching the sea and the birds, before to take the ferry back.

Time to leave, we did the same journey to return to Edinburgh.

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