Located just off Scotland’s south west coast, Arran is one of the country’s most famed islands. Home to everything from wildlife native to the area through to some particularly interesting history, a visit to Arran is without doubt worth it if you’re planing on taking a trip to Scotland – and these are just five of the must-see sights that you should be adding to your itinerary.
1. Brodick Castle
With a fortress having been on the site since the third century (with the current building being built in 1510), Brodick Castle is packed full of history that will feed the needs of any history lover. It dates from the 5th century Gaelic invasion and has been the home of the earls of Arran.
More of an elaborate tower house than a traditional castle, it was occupied up until 1958, after which point the National Trust of Scotland took over and opened the wonderful building – and its beautiful surrounding gardens – to the public.
2. Isle of Arran Brewery
One of the youngest breweries in Scotland, only built in March 2000, this in no way, shape or form means it produces alcohol that is anything other than perfect for discerning beer suppers!
With eight cask and bottled beers to their name, what’s interesting about Arran’s brewery is that some of its ales are produced seasonally – Fireside, for instance, is reserved only for the winter months.
Open the year round to the public, the tour itself is fantastic, but the tastings of the beers are worth the ticket alone.
3. King’s Cave
Originally down at sea level, this cave on Arran’s western shore is over 100 feet deep and 50 feet high and sits well above the sea today. As beautiful as this cave and the views it affordsare (like many others in the area), it’s not this which is the reason why you should visit – it’s because it is rumoured to be a cave once used by Robert the Bruce.
Legend has it that after wanting to give up his battle for independence for his beloved country from England, he took refuge in the cave and watched a spider spin its web. After failing several times, as the web simply wouldn’t stick to the stone, the spider finally succeeded – and it’s this that supposedly inspired Bruce to go on and lead his country to victory at Bannockburn in 1314.
4. Machrie Moor Standing Stones
Just one of several standing stones on Arran, those on Machrie Moor are said to be the best example, with the area featuring a number of stones that stand anywhere up to 18 feet high. Dating back to an astonishing 1700 BC, there is actually evidence that the site was used by people many years before this.
A popular attraction with a wide range of people, from those who visit to study the historical aspects to those who purely want to soak up the relaxed atmosphere of the area, the Machrie Moor Standing Stones might not seem overly interesting from afar, but the feeling of standing next to something that is thousands of years old is one that simply cannot be described.
5. The Wildlife
Spotted all over the island, considering Arran only covers 167 square miles, it’s hard to believe that it’s packed full of such a diverse range of wildlife.
For instance, head to the north of the island and you’ll see nearly 2,000 red deer roaming free, especially if you happen to be playing a round of golf on nearby Lochranza Golf Course (it’s said you’re almost guaranteed to see hundreds of deer from the course).
If you check out most parts of the coast, you might be lucky enough to view sealife that ranges fromminke whales through to basking sharks and harbour porpoises.
And if something more reptilian is your thing, take a walk through any of the moorland areas on Arran and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may be able to see both adders and common lizards.
Scotland’s Isle of Arran is a part of the country that really does have something to offer everyone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s history or wildlife, whatever your interests, Arran has it covered – and in a particularly relaxed environment, too.
Matthew Bettoli writes for Cottages and Castles, who provide self-catering Arran accommodation.