Isle of Arran Things to Do

  • The Holy Isle
    The Holy Isle
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    Lagg Hotel.
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    Lochranza Castle
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Most Recent Things to Do in Isle of Arran

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    Whiting Bay

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 25, 2015

    Whiting Bay appeared to us as an absolute metropolis after being out in the wilds for a few days. It's Arran's third largest village after Brodick and Lamlash and is a hot spot for tourists. Accommodation is mainly in self catering cottages with the odd hotel and B&B To me, it was rather like an old fashioned Victorian resort with a few mod cons thrown in..

    It is thought the name Whiting Bay derived from Viking Bay and at one time, was renowned for having the longest pier in the Forth of Clyde.This was bulit in 1899 to accommodate a regular ferry service from Saltcoats. Sadly, the pier fell into disuse by 1962 and was eventually demolished in 1964.

    Plenty of free parking and tourist facilities.

    Great views to Holy Island.

    View along the beach at Whiting Bay. Holy Island from Whiting Bay Pretty houses and gardens in Whiting Bay Fantastic view of Whiting Bay from high above. Holy island.
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    Giants Graves.

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 25, 2015

    The Giants Graves' are a couple of neolithic chambered tombs, built in a splendid setting in a clearing off the forest track,way above Whiting Bay, some 120 metres above sea level. The views are spectacular!

    Chambered cairns were often used as burial grounds, where the bones from important people would be laid to rest. To save space, the bodies were left in the open to have their flesh naturally stripped by any wildlife in the area before the bones were collected.

    These cairns are known as north and south; the north cairn being 6 metres long by 1 metre wide and the south slightly smaller at 4 x 1 metres. Shards of pottery, flint knives and arrow haeads have been found amongst the bones.

    A truly beautiful location marred for us by children shouting and climbing on the cairns.

    First sight of the cairns. 120 metres above sea level. Chambered tomb rocks. Giant's Grave. Giant's grave.
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    Glenashdale Falls to Giants Graves and Whiting Bay

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 25, 2015

    From above Glenashdale Falls, we took the left branch of the footpath which led us onto a wide forest road. This was easier walking than the steep path up to the falls, even though it continued to climb, the gradient was easier.

    We were astonished by the vivid purples of the heather, the bell heather and common ling, creating vast areas of pinky purple.Other flowers along the way were fuscha, fox gloves, rosebay willow herb and even buddleia.

    At one point the track opens up to give spectacular views down over Whiting Bay and to Holy Island.

    From the track a branch leads to the Giants' Caves, ancient burial cairns.

    From the cairns, a track is blazed through the heathland with mountain views ,which suddenly begins it's descent. This gets steeper and steeper with many hairpin bends and is hard going on poor knees! We spotted a bird of prey flying low here before it disappeared into a tree.

    Finally, you rejoin the forest track by the river that takes you back to Whiting Bay village.

    True Scottish heather The path from Giants Graves to Whiting Bay. Before the descent. Glorious purples. Whiting Bay through the flowers.
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    Glenashdale Falls Walk

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 25, 2015

    Starting this walk at Whiting Bay you have a few options as to how far you walk. You can either walk to the falls and back the same route, walk to the falls and back via The Giants Graves or take either an eastward walk, westward walk or a northward walk, all much longer distances.

    We opted to see the falls first and then make a decision.

    The walk from Whiting Bay starts on a surfaced track leading from the south end of the village, then through a gate onto a woodland track.The walk is pretty enclosed, which we found disappointing, not even being able to catch a glimpse of the river most of the time.

    We were beginning to lose hope of ever reaching the river, even though the path is not far from the water, until we met a family who told us the falls were five minutes away but it was all up, up and up. Oh, how right they were, a very steep gradient for the last ten minutes. Being unfit, we had to have a few breathers.

    Finally we arrived at a vertiginous viewing platform.As we walked to the end of the platform, I grew more than a little anxious, not realising exactly how high we had climbed. The double fall was tremendous. The first drop gushed over a parapet and into a plunge pool to continue over another ledge and plunge in total 130 feet down into the river, way below.Impressive it was but in winter it must be even more so.

    Tall trees on the walk. From the platform. Second fall. Viewing platform. From the top.
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    Clauchlands Point

    by nickandchris Written Aug 24, 2015

    To the north east of Lamalash is a minor road passing through a residential area. This also passes the Outdoor Activity Centre before ending at a small car park on the coast. From here you can access the coast walk but many simply walk to the point and back.Clauchlands Farm, just up the road from the car park is Arran's largest dairy farm and supplies the local dairy as well as the Torrylinn cheese factory.

    This area is Scotland's first "No Take" zone,created in 2008, protecting the marine life and seabeds.Certainly the water is beautifully clear here.

    I walked the track to the point, noting that the beach was pretty boulderous and rocky. I am always on the look out for signs of otters but sadly was disappointed here.

    There is a WW2 observation post at the point that I didn't feel inclined to investigate!

    The views to Holy Island (a Buddhist retreat) are pretty good from here and we watched sailing boats pass through the straits.

    Holy Isle from Clauchlands Point car park. Looking back to the park from the Point. Wildlife... Evening light  at Clauchlands. Clauchlands.
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    Kildonan.

    by nickandchris Written Aug 24, 2015

    We visited this lovely little coastal village on a very dull and damp day but even so, were surprised at the lack of people. I was expecting it to be very busy, having a gloriously long, sandy beach that is not the norm on Arran. Most beaches are rock and pebble.

    We parked in a little car park by some large rocks. Looking to one side we noted a small boat coming to shore and thought what an ideal place for our boat, had we had the inclination to inflate it, etc. Conditions were also perfect, flat calm!

    To the other side the long beach continued, empty and forlorn looking. From Kildonan there are great views to Pladda island, with it's lighthouse and as far as Ailsa Craig off the Ayrshire coast.Just to the east of the village, on the coast, are the remains of Kildonan Castle which, unfortunately, we didn't have time to walk to.

    Named after the Irish monk, St. Donan, this delightful village has apparently an excellent facility in it's village hall where regular events are held. There is one hotel and a campsite and today's village mainly comprises of newer houses with fantastic coastal views.

    We thought Kildonan a lovely little place and would have liked to spend more time there.

    Prior to Kildonan, we stopped off by the village hall in Kilmory, a couple of miles to the west,for some water and to recycle our rubbish. I took the opportunity to walk to nearby Torrylinn cairn. Not overly exciting but I did have my first distnt view of Ailsa Craig.

    Torrylinn chambered cairn. Sand and more sand. Ideal for small boats. Sandy beach with pladda island in the background. Pladda Island from Kildonan
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    King's Cave.

    by nickandchris Written Aug 24, 2015

    This series of caves have been chiseled out of the sandstone cliffs and is reputedly one of the places good old Robert the Bruce sought refuge during his fight for Scottish Independence.We all learned the story as children of Robert the Bruce's exile and his encounter with a very determined spider who never gave up spinning it's collapsing web until it succeeded. From his observations, Robert gained determination, confidence and spirit to continue his battle.

    There are many symbols and drawings from early Christian and Pictish eras, along with modern graffiti in the caves, it is difficult to know which are genuine.

    Whether the story is true or not, it's still an atmospheric place to visit..

    Gates into the cave, complete with spider. Part of the cave. Ancient drawings. Symbols. Part of the cave system.
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    King's Cave Walk

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 24, 2015

    This is a circular walk that takes around two hours and the going varies between forest track, pebble beach and steep cliff path.

    The forestry commision car park for the walk is just south of Machrie and it does get very busy!

    There is a board depicting the walk and things to look out for. The preferable route is to take the anti clockwise direction, thus leaving the extremely steep path from the beach as an uphill rather than a tricky descent (for those of us with dodgy knees!)

    The path meanders through woodland before opening out seaward side, giving spectaculr views over Machrie Bay. The path seems to wind on forever before you arrive at the narrow passageway through a rockface and onto the beach. Here, you are walking over pebbles on a raised beach but it's not too tricky. You pass a few minor openings in the cliffs that are difficult to access, the paths being overgrown, before you arrive at the real thing.

    Description in separate tip.

    Leaving the caves, there are a few minor stone sculpture towers as the path heads southwards. From here there are spectaculr views of Drumadoon Point in the distance.Shortly, the path divides. To continue along the coast takes you to Blackwater, to return to the car park you must continue up the very steep, narrow path way up onto the cliff top. Once you gain some height, you are surrounded (in August) by heather in full bloom. A wonderful sight.

    Further on you pass a swampy looking loch in a clearing with mountain views. From here, it's about another half hour to the car park.

    Please wear suitable footwear.

    Looking back to Machrie Bay. Stonework by the caves. Walking from the caves before the steep ascent. Drumadoon Point with golf course. Scottish heather in full bloom.
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    Machrie Moor Standing Stones Etc.

    by nickandchris Written Aug 23, 2015

    You cannot miss visiting these impressive circles and standing stones (although my husband did as he didn't feel fit enough for the walk) when on Arran.

    This step into prehistoric archeology is fascinating and worthy of a visit.

    The walk initially crosses fields but you soon arrive at the first point of interest, a burial cairn. As always, you have to have a pretty good imagination for such things but i did learn that bodies were initially left in the open to be stripped to the bone by birds and animals before the bones were buried. Sensible as bones don't take up too much space!

    Machrie Moor, where the stones are, was a place of ceremonial and burial activity and dates from around 3500 - 1500BC, taking in the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. A VERY long time ago!

    The most impressive of the bunch are the lone standing stones and a circle of three extremely tall and thin slabs of granite, the tallest being 5.5 metres! There were originally seven or eight stones - even so, the three remaining are pretty remarkable.and date around 1600 - 1800 BC.

    Interestingly, the stones used in construction of the circles are a mixture of sandstone and limestone and the smaller stones consist of granite boulders.

    Double circle of granite  boulders? The three tall 'uns. 5.5 metres? Striking. Another tall one.
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    Machrie Moor Scenery

    by nickandchris Written Aug 23, 2015

    The Machrie moor walk is a popular walk as it takes in numerous stone circles and standing stones.Aprt from these relics, don't forget to take note of your surroundings and enjoy the stunning landscape.

    The views are magnificent, especially on a clear summer's day. I imagine it all looks a little different on a wet, misty day!

    As you draw close to the main event, you pass a derelict building. This is Moss Farm, looking sadly abandoned. The track that leads to the stones from the main road is in actual fact called Moss Farm Road.

    Fantastic views Gorgeous... Perfect landscape. Moss farm and distant stones amongst the scenery. Distant mountains.
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    Walking Up Glen Catacol

    by nickandchris Written Aug 23, 2015

    I have to admit I only did a part of this walk but I certainly enjoyed the river and the scenery.The walk up the steep glen eventually leads you to waterfalls and remote and wild Loch Tanna. Glen Catacol is said to be one of the wildest glens on the island.

    We parked in the car park over the river bridge.The start of the walk is from the left side of the river. This follows the crystal clear Catacol river whichunusually has a bed of mainly large, white pebbles.It is my sort of river, clear and light rather than brown and peaty which most Scottish rivers tend to be.

    The heather was at it's best being August and gave the landscape a purple hue.

    I noted quite a few fish in the deeper pools which was very reassuring.

    Not being a very able walker , I turned back after an hour or so.I passed one person and a dog in all that time.

    Catacol river reaching the sea. My sort of river. Purple heathered landscape White pebbled river with crystal clear water Onwards and upwards...
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    Imacher

    by nickandchris Written Aug 23, 2015

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    A fascinating coastal area with some very unusual rock features.

    The beach here is littered with stratad rocks, some lines horizontal, others vertical. I have never seen anything quite like it before and it fascinated me. As I was walking along the coastal path, I passed huge cliffs, again with lines going in both directions. One cliff face was covered in a parasitic ivy and huge clumps of brillian purple heather.

    I met a guide along here who told me about Hutton's Unconformity, that these rocks had actually arisen from the sea bed twice, at different times.

    The Isle of Arran has been a Mecca for geologists for many years due to its wonderfully varied geology.
    Hutton's Unconformity is a name given to various famous geological sites in Scotland identified by the 18th-century Scottish geologist James Hutton as places where the junction between two types of rock formations can be seen. This geological phenomenon marks the location where rock formations created at different times and by different forces adjoin. For Hutton, such an unconformity provided evidence for his Plutonist theories of uniformitarianism and the age of the Earth.

    In a search for such a juxtaposition, Hutton, accompanied by some of his friends, examined sea cliffs and found examples at several locations where the two rock types had been laid bare, the most famous being at Siccar Point.

    Wierd and wonderful rocks at Imacher Ivy strangled cliffs Imacher cliffs. More wierd shapes.... Strobing almost!
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    Walk to Newton Point and Beyond.

    by nickandchris Written Aug 22, 2015

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    There is a very pleasant residential road that runs along the east side of the loch at Lochranza, with seats to sit awhile and admire the stunning views. This turns into a footpath to Newton Point where there is a plaque dedicated to geologists (this part of the coast is a geological treasure!) and a quote,

    “There is perhaps no scene on Arran which so impresses the beholder with a feeling of solitary beauty as the first glimpse of Lochranza. The traveller may perhaps be somewhat fatigued with his protracted journey as, on a still summer evening, he rounds Newton Point. But tired and hungry though he be, and with the very smoke of the little inn curling before his eyes, let him pause for a moment at the entrance of the loch and seating himself on a granite boulder, quietly contemplate the placid scene before him.”
    Andrew Crombie Ramsay’s ‘Geology of the Island of Arran’

    From Newton Point, the coastal footpath continues and forms part of the Arran Coastal Path.,There are pleasant rocky beaches and grassy plateaux.The rocks are quite fascinating in this area, please google Hutton's Unconformity.A geologists paradise.

    At the time of my visit,one of the stony beaches had stone tower sculptures, stones balanced on top of each other. This seems quite a popular thing to do ,these days.

    View back over the loch on the walk. Beach with stone sculpture. Clever work.... Clear sea This is where I turned back.
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    Lochranza Castle.

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 22, 2015

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    Attractively located on a spit of grassy land surrounded by the loch, Lochranza Castle is certainly prominent.

    Originally built in 13thc, and owned by the Mac Sweens, the castle developed over the centuries into two different castles, originally built as a hall House it was re-designed as a Tower House in the 1500's.

    By 1321 Robert II owned it and utilised it as a royal hunting lodge.

    In 1705 the Hamilton family bought it and later sold it to the Blackwood - Davidson family.During the 18thc the castle fell into disuse and was sadly abandoned.

    Now in the capable hands of Historic Scotland, the castle is well kept and free to look round. The most exciting part, especially for children, is the prison, a dark, windowless pit.

    it is interesting to try and decide which parts are from which era.

    There is parking at the castle.

    Castle ruins, Lochranza. Remains. Impressive. Our motorhome parked by the castle. Viewed from the east.
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    Sannox Beach Walk

    by nickandchris Written Aug 21, 2015

    This is a pleasant little walk from south Sannox to North Sannox, where there is a pleasant beach and river side picnic area. There are toilets here and it appears popular with campers.

    The first stage involves crossing the river from the parking area via man-made stepping stones. They are closely spaced so no danger of getting wet in summer.I suspect these stones will be submerged after very heavy, continual rainfall.This path leads you to a delightful beach which seemed extremely well sheltered.The path heads through woodland after this.

    There is an impressive rock face enroute and just beyond, a part of dead tree that looked like an animal to me. I took a couple of photos.

    When I emerged onto the beach at north Sannox, I didn't venture over the stepping stones here as they were the real thing!I just noted it was a pleasant place that was relatively busy.I returned the way I had come but the path does continue and joins the surfaced road back onto the main road.

    Calm beach at Sannox. Path at Sannox. Picnic area at North Sannox. Animal?? Sannox beach.
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