We at Love Scottish Islands are all for making your life easier and one of the questions that we are often asked is, “What are the best Scottish Islands to take my family to”? So, below is the first in the series of articles explaining what are, in our opinion, the best Scottish islands to take your family to. Here goes!
Where is Isle of Arran?
The Isle of Arran is known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, with it’s mountainous northern half and more gentle and rolling southerly part. It is close to the south-west coast of Scotland and is very accessible. The roads on Arran are single track in places, but they are of good quality. The Caledonian Macbrayne Car and Passenger Ferry from Ardrossan (near Ayr), is a short 50 minute sailing and runs several times a day. It is advisable to book your car in advance during the summer months. The other Caledonian Macbrayne Car Ferry is between Lochranza in the north west of Arran and Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula. This is a smaller ferry and runs less frequently.
The main ferry port at Brodick has a good selection of shops including 2 supermarkets, leisure facilities at Auchrannie with its swimming pools, sports hall and Spa. Doctors are available at Brodick Health Centre (01770 302175). Several buses run between Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay, which are the three largest towns/villages on Arran. Buses also run along the B880 String Road, between Brodick and Blackwaterfoot. Also, there are several taxi firms on Arran.
To do – Isle of Arran
Brodick Castle, which is the former seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, is well worth a visit. The castle’s history can be traced back as far as the Vikings. For family, group and school visits the castle offers the following:
Children’s self-guided quizzes
Special events and exhibitions
Young Naturalists Club
Guided garden walks
Junior garden trail
Regular family events – see website for details
Guided hill walks
Guided junior tours of the castle
Children’s lunches available in tearoom
Hip carrier and pushchairs are available for loan within the castle (pushchairs can only be used on the ground floor)
Baby back carriers, prams and own pushchairs are not permitted in the castle
Baby changing facilities are available within the castle
For more information check out the Brodick Castle website
Goat Fell is Arran’s highest (and most accessible) peak. It is only a three hour climb. An ascent of the highest peak on the Island is one of Scotland’s best known walks and provides a magnificent vantage point of the Firth of Clyde and surrounding countryside.
In the north-west of the island are the major ruins of Lochranza Castle. This is set in a stunning location next to the beach at Lochranza. Once a hunting lodge of the Scottish Kings, this 14th century castle is now in ruins, but is nonetheless picturesque. For more information on Lochranza Castle, click here.
If you or the kids are interested in outdoor activities then maybe a visit to the Arran Outdoor Education Centre is a must. They offer kayaking, sailing, hillwalking, abseiling, climbing, mountain biking and gorge walking and are open all year round. Cycling is a great family activity and Arran has you covered here as well. Bike hire is available in Brodick from Arran Bike Hire or Arran Adventure.
For younger children there is the Playbarn at Auchrannie where there is a softplay and a picnic area. There is also a play park at the Old Byre Visitors Centre in Auchencar, near Machrie. Here there are swings, slides, trampolines, a fort with giant Lego-like bricks, a climbing wall, digger den, a giant sand pit, a ball games area and loads of toys. There is also a Leisure Centre at Auchrannie where there is a 20 metre pool plus steam rooms, a sanarium, saunas and a solarium. A great way to help you chill out and relax whilst your kids enjoy the pool!
For more information please read the Isle of Arran page at www.lovescottishislands.com