Travel review: Isle of Arran, Scotland
Forward thinking islanders from this beautiful Scottish spot have set up The Arran Trust to protect and promote their home for many years to come.
What a great idea and one that has been embraced by local businesses and hoteliers including The Best Western Kinloch Hotel in the secluded spot of Blackwaterfoot.
Boasting some of the best sunsets on the island, this family run hotel has some cracking views. Owner and manager Robbie Crawford runs a well-oiled machine, with the focus very much on looking after the customer.
There’s ample free parking outside the hotel and inside a welcoming restaurant and bar serving up meals using freshly prepared local produce (the hotel has the Arran Butcher’s shop just yards away) and a choice of the country’s finest drinks. Breakfast is full and hearty too and there’s no problem working out where you sit as your surname is proudly displayed on the table! The hotel’s bedrooms are roomy and modern, all having en-suite bathrooms, Wi-fi and tea and coffee facilities, as well as the obligatory televisions and direct dial telephones. There are also self-catering suites which are big and contain everything you need to have that home from home feeling, a pool, sauna and sporting facilities too and for those without transport, the bus stop is right outside, with a comfy chair to use while you wait for the bus.
The bus is a great way to look around the island, which is dubbed Scotland’s miniature jewel in the crown, as a circular loop will give you a taster for what’s on offer.
Outdoor life is the mainstay of the island, with the weather ever changeable. We had everything from rain to sun to howling winds and snow!
Despite the unpredictable weather, the ever faithful ferry run by Caledonian Macbrayne from Ardrossan, runs a regular service to the main town of Brodick. There is something special about driving into the jaws of the ship, parking up and standing on deck admiring the water as you take the short hop to the island. And on board there is a good canteen, shop and bar, plus gaming machines to keep everyone entertained.
Once in Brodick, there’s lots to see from the historic Brodick Castle run by the National Trust for Scotland, to old-fashioned seaside fun and lots of arts and culture.
And all that is there to be protected by The Arran Trust, as well as the wonderful landscape which boasts some fabulous walks, excellent bike routes and the best deserted beaches.
As a child I used to stay at Corrie, a small hamlet with picture postcard cottages and a lovely small harbour where if you are lucky you can see seals taking it easy and taking in the view – something we could all learn from!
The Arran Trust was set up to become the island’s visitor gifting scheme and its been so successful it has won a host of accolades.
Its there to fund projects and most importantly protect the island. Every year Arran attracts thousands of visitors taken in by its charms and there are set to be more people coming soon as a massive outdoor adventure park is to be built soon in the grounds of Brodick Castle.
Sheila Gilmore the executive director of the Visit Arran tourist information office is a key player in the trust and she and other hard working islanders are dedicated to protecting the island and keeping it beautiful.
Change is a matter of course these days, but the islanders make sure through the trust, that projects are done sympathetically and work for Arran. A great example of this is funding towards footpaths which ensure improved access for walkers and car parks at scenic viewpoints to enable everyone to enjoy the spectacular views and safely too.
Businesses across the island have signed up to the trust and money collected by them goes towards protecting and enhancing “this great wee (as the Scots would say) gem!’’
For more information on:
Accommodation: We stayed at the Best Western Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot. The hotel looks right onto the water at this lovely spot and has all the mod cons you would expect. Check out www.bw-kinlochhotel.co.uk
Transport: Calmac Ferries run a regular service from the mainland at Ardrossan to Arran. The journey is swift and efficient and there are on board facilities to keep the whole family happy. Log onto www.calmac.co.uk