Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > South West (Scotland) > Ayrshire > Isle of Arran
- For other places with the same name, see Aran (disambiguation).
The Isle of Arran is in south-western Scotland in the Firth of Clyde, which is the broad reach of sea southwest of Glasgow and enclosed by the Ayrshire coast to the east and the Kintyre peninsula to the west. It has a population of approximately 5,000. Arran extends for about 20 mi (32 km) north-south and 10 miles east-west, with all its settlements strung along the coast road, and a hilly interior. The tourist agency calls it Scotland in Miniature, but if you try cycling the roads over the hills, you might not agree with that term. And if the wind and rain get up, or the ferry crossing turns rough, or the midges attack, the experience will not feel miniature.
Yet that twee slogan is stating an important truth about Arran’s accessibility, scenery and charm. It’s very accessible, being easily reached from England and central Scotland, you don’t have to drive another 3 hours to Oban harbour or beyond. But equally, it’s not too accessible. It’s not blighted by hordes or tacky “attractions”. The one-hour ferry crossing is just enough to feel mainland life slipping away from you, and once you get around to the west side, with the view of Kintyre, you really are in another place. The scenery is Highland, but on a compact scale – it’s sparse and haunting, but not bleak. You can enjoy seeing and doing things, or just chill. You’re not in the remote Hebrides here (they start the other side of Kintyre) and you can always get to Brodick if you’re missing something essential, like dental floss or a mobile signal.
How old is this Earth? Arran is where geologists began to see that it was vastly older than they’d supposed, and was continually re-shaped by sometimes violent forces – look at that huge plug of granite thrust up through the island’s centre. So it was only an eyeblink ago in geological terms when Neolithic settlers erected the great stone circles of Machrie Moor. Arran was, and is, a farming and fishing community, but from the late 18th century it was systematically depopulated, as its residents were evicted, or chose to leave for better prospects elsewhere. Tourism developed in the 19th century as city workers came “doon the water” for their summer holidays along the “Glasgow Riviera” or “Costa Clyde”, in resorts such as Troon, Largs, Ayr, Girvan and Arran. In the late 20th century they moved on, to the Med, but good car-ferry connections brought in different visitors. Traditional life persisted alongside the caravan parks and B&Bs, but the last native Gaelic speakers died out, fortunately having survived into an era when recordings could capture their oral history and distinctive dialect of Arran Gaelic.
Arran has no air service. You’ll almost certainly arrive on the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick (Gaelic Tràigh a' Chaisteil), the village that is the island’s transport hub. This southern part of the island is lowland in nature, with the bulk of the accommodation and amenities. From Brodick the main road south leads to Lamlash (Gaelic An t-Eilean Àrd) which is the main population centre and has the hospital and council & law offices; so if you have official business on Arran, it’ll probably involve a meeting here. Lamlash also has the best anchorage for small craft, with its bay sheltered by Holy Island, to which there are boat trips. The last large village is Whiting Bay then, as the road rounds the southern tip at Kildonan, the island becomes much wilder.
Heading north from Brodick, a couple of miles brings you to Brodick Castle, and the start of the main footpath to the top of Goat Fell. The main road hugs the coast north through Sannox and Corrie then crosses lonely moors to Lochranza, with its stump of castle, whisky distillery and a ferry jetty. So here is the other route into Arran, via the short crossing from Claonaig in Argyll. The road now turns south along the west shore and is quiet – old maps show it as an A-road, but this stretch has been declassified to a lane. Small places along the way include Pirnmill, Catacol, Machrie, Blackwaterfoot and Kilmory, then you circle back through Kildonan into lusher country.
For weather information on the island check the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) for the Western Highlands which includes Isle of Arran.
The TIC is Visit Scotland Brodick iCentre, The Pier, Brodick KA27 8AU, ☏ . May-Sept daily 09:00-17:00, Oct & April M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00. This stands opposite the ferry terminal (listed below), at the junction with A841 the main island road.
Only by boat. The only practical way to reach Arran is on the ferry, almost always by the Ardrossan-Brodick route. Thus, getting to Arran means getting to Ardrossan, which is well-connected with Glasgow. There is also a short ferry crossing between Lochranza and Claonaig in Argyll, described below, but this is a very long way round, best considered as part of a road tour of the Western Highlands and Islands. Both routes are operated by Calmac (Caledonian MacBrayne) and run year-round, weather permitting. See their website for times, prices, terms and bookings, or call 0800 066 5000. The ferries are often booked up in summer, especially for the weekend get-away and the Sunday-Monday return.
The Ardrossan-Brodick ferry sails 07:00-19:00 every 90 mins or so in summer, but with only five sailings in winter. It can carry around 100 cars and 1000 passengers, and has toilets, play area, lounge, tourist information desk, bar, café and restaurant; there is disabled access. Extra peak-period sailings may be on smaller vessels, with size limits for vehicles. Return fares are £33 for a car, £8 per passenger including the driver, and £4 per child 5-15; toddlers, bicycles and dogs go free (Dec 2019). Make sure your car is at the pier 30 minutes ahead (toilets, café and waiting area at both ports), or your space may be re-allocated to someone else; foot passengers are okay till ten minutes ahead. The crossing takes 50 min, but reckon an hour from cast-off to driving onto the jetty at the other end. People sometimes take a round-trip without landing, enjoying a scenic lunch on the way. But unless it’s filthy weather, do stay on deck and watch for marine life: dolphins, porpoise, seals and basking sharks are not uncommonly seen. For day-trippers, a tour coach sometimes meets the morning ferry at Brodick and takes you round the island’s main sights then back in time for an afternoon return sailing – ask at the tourist desk on board.
There is a long stay car park at Ardrossan harbour, £4 per day. So if you're only staying a couple of days, don't have much luggage and don't plan to venture beyond Brodick and Lamlash, consider parking and coming across as a foot passenger.
The Lochranza-Claonaig ferry sails 8 times a day in summer, taking 30 min. In winter Claonaig jetty is too exposed, so instead there’s a single daily crossing between Lochranza and Tarbert, taking 90 min. The ferry is a small ro-ro with room for 18 cars and 150 passengers; there’s a small lounge and toilets (and none at the harbours). Return fares are around £20 for a car, £6 per passenger including the driver, and £3 per child 5-15 (Dec 2019). From Claonaig you can day-trip to Skipness on foot, and to Tarbert by bike, see “Go next”. However most visitors will either be taking a single ride to tour Kintyre and the Western Highlands, or playing “hopscotch” across several islands (Calmac use that word for ferry itineraries that aren’t simple singles & returns).
On summer Saturdays only, the 07:00 Campbeltown-Ardrossan ferry calls at Brodick, so this is an alternative way to return from Kintyre to Arran. The westbound ferries from Ardrossan to Campbeltown don’t call, so from Arran you have to sail Lochranza-Claonaig to reach Kintyre.
Arran is also visited by other ships in summer, but these are excursion cruises not ferries. A charming example is the paddle steamer “Waverley”, the world's oldest sea-going paddle ship, in her 1947 LNER livery.
1 Brodick Ferry Terminal, The Pier, Brodick KA27 8AU. Open for all sailings. This smart new terminal building finally opened in spring 2018. Now it only remains to complete the big new ferry that it was built to accommodate (autumn 2019 maybe) and upgrade the mainland ferry port at Ardrossan (2020 - who knows?). But Arran's ready.
By road, obviously. The “main road” circles the island: it’s the busy A841 on the east side between Lochranza, Brodick and Whiting Bay, and just a lane – but perfectly driveable – from Whiting Bay round the west side back to Lochranza. Two small and scenic roads climb across the hills in the middle. The “String Road” or B880 runs from Brodick to Blackwaterfoot. The “Ross Road” is that quintessential Highland experience, a narrow single track lane with passing places, unsuitable for large vehicles (thus, no bus service). It wends and winds from Lamlash to re-join the main road between Kilmory/Lagg and Sliddery. Especially in the quieter parts of the island, people are often happy to pick up hitch-hikers who don’t look too weird or muddy, but passing traffic can be very sparse.
Fill up the tank before coming over: it’s a large island so you’ll probably do more mileage than you expected, and filling stations on Arran are few and expensive with Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay your best hope.
Car hire is available from the petrol station at the ferry terminal in Brodick. Cars cost from £25 per day, and range in size from a two-seater Smart to a seven-seater Vauxhall Zafira. Tel: +44 1770 302121. Also from Arran Motors in Brodick & Whiting Bay (listed), and from Blackwaterfoot Garage, Tel +44 1770 860277.
- Arran Taxis & Tours are on +44 1770 700520 in Brodick, mobile +44 07967 587481, email email@example.com. Pick up their card on the ferry, they'll use the reverse as your receipt.
- Arran Motors, ☏ (in Brodick), (in Whiting Bay). In Brodick: M-Sa 08:00-17:30, Su 10:00-17:00; in Whiting Bay: M-F 09:15-17:15, Sa 09:15-16:00. Car rental is offered in Brodick and Whiting Bay. Booking in advance is recommended.
Bus routes all start from Brodick ferry terminal and ply all the island roads, except the Ross Road which is too narrow and unpopulated. So you can get places by bus, but you might not get much of a view through the mud-splashed windows. Buses are operated by Stagecoach West Scotland, under the aegis of SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) so bus stops and timetables may carry either logo. See online for the full timetable. Printed timetables are on the ferries, at Brodick ferry terminal, on the buses themselves and from convenience stores. An English over-65 bus pass isn’t valid in Scotland. The regular bus services are:
- 321 Brodick - Corriegills (just a school bus, runs once per day on schooldays only)
- 322 Brodick - String Road - Blackwaterfoot (M-Sa roughly hourly, 5 on Sunday)
- 323 Brodick - Lamlash - Whiting Bay - Kildonan - Lagg - Blackwaterfoot (M-Sa roughly hourly to Whiting Bay, with six continuing to Blackwaterfoot; Sun six to Whiting Bay and four to Blackwaterfoot)
- 324 Brodick - Castle - Corrie - Sannox - Lochranza – Pirnmill - Blackwaterfoot (M-Sa 7 per day, four on Sunday)
This means that trips around the island can be put together by changing at Blackwaterfoot:
- 324 + 322 for North Island circuit via String Road
- 323 + 322 for South Island circuit via String Road
- 324 + 323 to go all the way round.
The buses don’t carry bikes.
All buses are “Hail and Ride” – they’ll stop for you anywhere. Don’t set off back too late, as few buses run after 21:00.
Arran has a Rural MyBus scheme, an on-demand supplement to regular buses, organised by SPT. See Scotland#Get around for eligibility rules. Since Arran has a bus service on just about every road that a bus can drive along, there's little call for it on the island, but there's a useful mainland connection (M22 once a day M-Sa) from Irvine via Stevenston and Saltcoats to meet the ferry at Ardrossan.
Bicycles travel free on the Calmac ferries. Bikes can be hired from several locations in Brodick (listed); also from Kinloch Sports Club in Blackwaterfoot, and from the Sandwich Station in Lochranza. The main road from Brodick to Corrie is too busy for an enjoyable ride; but if your lungs and sinews can take it, the String Road and Ross Road are sublime.
- Arran Bike Hire, Shore Road, Brodick KA27 8AG, ☏ , (mobile), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10:00-16:30. With mountain bikes, hybrids, electric, and children's tag-alongs. £20 for one day hybrid.
- Arran Adventures, Brodick KA27 8BZ (at Auchrannie Resort), ☏ . Mountain bike rental offered throughout the year. Also offers guided mountain bike tours (seasonal). £16 for 24 hours.
- Brodick Cycles [dead link] opposite the library on the main road do repairs and spares; they don't do bike hire. They're open Apr-Oct M-Sa 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00 and Nov-March Th-Sa 10:00-13:00.
In Brodick is the Arran Heritage Museum, and the Adventure Centre (see “Do”) offers guided activities such as pony-trekking and rock-climbing. A couple of miles north of the village is Brodick Castle, Arran Brewery, and the start of the easiest hike up Goat Fell (described under “Do”).
- 1 Heritage Museum, Rosaburn, Brodick KA27 8DP, ☏ . April-Oct daily 10:30-16:30. In an old farmstead at the northern edge of town, covers Arran's geology, archaeology and social history. Adult £4, child £2.
- 2 Brodick Castle, Brodick KA27 8HY (2 miles north of town centre), ☏ . Apr-Dec daily 10:00–17:00. This splendid pile is Arran's top sight, re-opened in April 2019 after lengthy restoration. It dates to 14th century but most of what you see is grand baronial Victoriana. Plus gardens and country park (same hours & admission). There's also accommodation within the castle grounds, see "Sleep". The castle normally closes Nov-March but in 2019 opening is extended to 22 Dec. Adults £13.50, conc £9.50, NTS/NT free.
- 3 Arran Brewery, Cladach, Brodick KA27 8DE (2 miles north of town centre), ☏ , ✉ Sales@arranbrewery.co.uk. April-mid Sept M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 12:30-16:30; late Sept-March M-Sa 10:30-16:30. There is an independent restaurant facing you in the main driveway, but walk around the corner to the brewery itself for some generous free beer tasting and the opportunity of buying 8-pint jerry cans of some excellent real ale. Although it does not hold a licence, you're permitted to drink your purchase on the adjacent picnic tables. 45-min tours are daily at 11:00 and 14:00. Tour adults £7, children £2.
Going south from Brodick, Lamlash has fishing trips, indeed you can hire your own boat. The main attraction is Holy Island sheltering Lamlash Bay. In summer, boat trips run roughly hourly from Lamlash, for bird-watching, hikes over the small island, and great views over the Firth towards Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre. And, last thing you expected to find here, there’s a Tibetan Buddhist community. At the northern end where the boats land is the "Interfaith Centre", with visitor information and a café, open in summer more or less whenever the boat trips are running. The track down the island is dotted with Buddhist iconry then at the southern end is the retreat, where monks live in seclusion and you can’t visit. This community is often loosely described as a monastery, though that term properly only applies to their mother house, the Samye Ling Monastery above Garvald in Dumfriesshire.
Going north from Brodick along the main road to Lochranza, see the caves at Corrie. Pony-trekking is available at Sannox (see “Do”).
- 4 Corrie Caves: the track starts from the Shore Road in the middle of the village, and they're best visited as part of a steep trek to the top of the hill. Parking at the foot of the trail is very limited.
The road then leaves the coast and crosses the moors to Lochranza. Here find Lochranza Castle, the Arran Distillery, and the jetty for the ferry to Claonaig.
- 5 Lochranza Castle, Lochranza. Open Apr-Sep. A 13th-century bastion rebuilt in the 16th century and now just a masonry shell. Dramatic setting on the shingle spit of the village harbour, enfolded by hills and with views out over Kintyre. Usually freely open in summer to visitors and sheep, so watch where you step. If locked, ask for the key at the town hall. Free.
- 6 Isle of Arran Distillery, Lochranza KA27 8HJ (on main road at east edge of Lochranza village), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Oct tours hourly 10:00-16:00. Arran's first modern whisky distillery, established in 1995. Their main product is the unpeated "Isle of Arran" single malt, in various cask finishes and ages. They also produce a peaty (20 ppm) malt whisky, "Machrie Moor", in small quantities as this involves closing and washing out the main product line. See also "Eat" listing for Casks cafe here. Their new distillery in Lagg in the south of the island makes a heavily peated (50 ppm) whisky - after maturation this will go on sale from April 2022. Standard tour £10.
The road now turns south, along the west coast, and downgrades to a lane. Always in Arran be on the lookout for wildlife, especially in these more rugged northern and western sections. Look for Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers, diving birds, ravens, birds-of-passage eg waxwings and crossbills, and occasional windblown strays such as the white-tailed sea eagle and long-tailed skua. Deer are common and have no road sense. Red squirrels may be spotted in the woodlands. Seals often haul out on the shore, eg at Blackwaterfoot. This side of the island has the best views, over Kintyre, and sees the sunset.
Pirnmill has one of the best beaches on Arran. In the hills behind, see the hamlet of Penrioch and the abandoned houses of High Pirnmill. You can get a car or bike up the track as far as Penrioch, otherwise walk.
All over Arran, but especially richly down this western side, there are prehistoric monuments: standing stones, burial cairns, and the like. The main sites are signposted, but use a good Ordnance Survey map (Landranger 69 or Explorer 361) to discover your own. Some are on private land so if there's no sign or access path (eg the Auchencare Stone near the turnoff for Old Byres) then just admire them from the lane. Otherwise feel free to wander in, whenever; there's often no-one else around. They're about 3000 to 4000 years old, Neolithic-going-on-Bronze-Age, good examples being the Auchagallon stone circle and the Kilmory cairn. The outstanding, unmissable group is the Machrie Moor Stone Circles - if you were secretly disappointed by “the Stonehenge Experience”, come here to reconnect with your inner Ancient Brit.
- 7 Machrie Moor Stone Circles (Approach from car park on main road between Macrie and Blackwaterfoot). Always open. An impressive rugged circle of cairns, with others here and there across the heath. Can be boggy, stout boots recommended. The associated site 1 km west is Moss Farm Stone Circle. Free.
From Machrie the String Road cuts across the hills to Brodick (there are signs for Balmichael Visitor Centre, but it's closed). Or continue south along the coast through Blackwaterfoot to Kilmory. Here by a disused church another scenic route branches off, the narrow Ross Road over to Lamlash. Just below Kilmory a track leads down to Cleat’s Shore, said to be a naturist / nudist beach. But how can anyone tell? – since it’s usually deserted apart from the cows, being draughty, dung-splattered and without any amenities. The name “Cleat’s Shore” isn’t recognised by Google Map, and the narrow access track has to date repulsed the camera car, so it should be nice and quiet if you decide to get your kit off.
Near the south tip of Arran is Kildonan, with another good beach, plus great rock formations. The small island with a lighthouse 1 km offshore is Pladda: it's privately owned and can't be visited. The coast road now turns north to Whiting Bay and resumes duty as the A841.
Arran is a great place for walking and hiking. OS Landranger map 69 covers the entire island. All the coast is walkable, though the Brodick – Corrie section is too close to the main road to escape the traffic noise. For hiking suggestions (including GPS coordinates and route descriptions) see Walk Highlands hiking guide.
The unmissable walk is the ascent of 1 Goat Fell (Ben Govar), the island’s highest mountain, at 874 metres (so it’s a “Corbett”, it doesn’t qualify as a “Munro”). The usual ascent is from Cladach near Brodick Castle gates. This trail is well-waymarked and well-trodden, and will take 5 or 6 hours there & back. Nothing technical, but there’s a long scramble of scree near the summit. A steeper but shorter route ascends from Corrie, past some fine waterfalls, and you could use the bus to climb one way and descend the other. The view from the top sweeps over Ayrshire, Galloway, Ailsa Craig, Kintyre, Islay & Jura, Bute, and the hills above Loch Lomond. That’s on a clear day of course. On a misty drizzly day, let’s hope you took a compass bearing before you plunged into the gloom.
Glen Cloy just south-west of Brodick is a good scenic walk, 1.5 miles starting by Auchrannie resort to the bowl of surrounding hills.
From Lamlash, you can walk north along the coast to 2 Clauchlands Point. This is 2 miles (or 3 km) from central Lamlash, or you can drive to within half a mile. Usual beach life: birds, seals, squidgy things in rock pools – and you might spot a nuclear submarine, as their base lies further up the Firth. There’s also the remains of a boom defence signal station from World War II.
The Coastal Way is a set of paths for walking around the entire island along the coast divided into 12 sections. The coastal section between North Sannox and Lochranza is not suitable for bikes as it involves light scrambling especially around the Cock of Arran.
Play golf at one of the island’s many courses:
- 3 Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club, Shore Road, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8HA, ☏ . Daily 08:00-sunset. An unusual 12-hole course, so you should get round in a couple of hours. Seaside links with beautiful scenery. £25 per round.
- 4 Machrie Bay Golf Club and Tearoom, Machrie KA27 8DY, ☏ . Some of the best snacks and drinks around! Also good for a game of golf: nine holes and you go round twice, par 66, 4200 yards. Nine holes £15, 18 holes £20.
- 5 [dead link] Lochranza Golf Course, Lochranza, KA27 8HL, ☏ . April-Oct. Nine holes, par 34, 2332 yards, often with deer standing in your line of play. Nine holes £15, all day £20.
- 6 Whiting Bay Golf Club, Whiting Bay KA27 8QT, ☏ . Course is 18 holes, par 63, 4092 yards; also a nine-hole round, par 31, using holes 1-4 and 14-18. Starter box with changing room, clubhouse with restaurant and bar. Snooker table in its own room. £25 per player.
- There is a mini-golf course and a crazy golf course in Brodick.
- The Five Ferries is a cycle route of 51 miles, starting in Ardrossan, crossing Arran to Kintyre then Bute and back to the mainland at Wemyss Bay (less commonly done in reverse). There are steep gradients along the route and it's often done as a charity challenge. From the first ferry landing at Brodick you'll have 75 min to cover 14 miles to catch the second ferry at Lochranza, otherwise your day unravels. You'll feel confident at the ten mile mark, then you encounter the two mile climb out of Sannox. A Calmac ticket for all five ferries is £14, no booking needed but warn them if there's a large group of you - this is important for the small Lochranza ferry, assuming you catch it.
- Arran Adventure Centre, Brodick KA27 8BZ (At the entrance of the Auchrannie Resort), ☏ . Easter to October. Offers guided activities such as climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. Weather forecasts are posted every day.
- [dead link] Hands on Hawking, Lamlash, ☏ . May-Sep. A range of falconry related activities for those who would like to get a little closer to birds of prey. Intro hour £35.
- North Sannox Pony Trekking, North Sannox KA27 8JD, ☏ . Year-round M-Sa, weather permitting. Booking is strongly recommended. £25 for 1-hr track, £45 for 2-hr.
- Cairnhouse Stables, Blackwaterfoot KA27 8EU (at edge of village), ☏ . Open all year. Pony trekking & hacking. Booking in advance is recommended. £25 / hour.
- Flying Fever, 2 Coastguard House Kildonan KA27 8SD, ☏ . Daily in summer. Paragliding, solo or tandem, intro days and longer courses. Intro day £140.
- Bowling Greens, Lamlash and Brodick - Visitors are welcome to these seasonal facilities, you are asked to wear flat shoes. There is normally someone on hand to show you how to play if you've never tried before. The greens are only open in good weather to avoid wear. £3 per adult £1.50 for concessions.
- Go for a swim at the Auchrannie Resort (Brodick) or the Kinloch Hotel (Blackwaterfoot). The minimum ages to swim solo are 12 at the Auchrannie and 17 at the Kinloch.
- Live music: See Arran Events for events throughout the year. These include:
- Arran Folk Festival is in early June. The next is probably on 4-6 June 2021, tbc.
- Summer Ceilidh: in Brodick Wednesday evenings July-Aug and in Lochranza Thurs evenings Aug.
- Maclellan Arts Festival is in early Sept. The next is probably 28 Aug - 12 Sept 2020 but tbc.
- Music Arran: classical concerts monthly throughout the year, usually in Brodick village hall.
- Screen Machine. Mobile cinema that tours the Highlands and Islands. It visits Brodick once a month, parking at the Auchrannie Resort.
- Arran Mountain Festival. The next event is 14-17 May 2021.
As well as those listed, most of the hotels serve meals to non-residents, see Sleep.
- Shanghai, Kames Corner, Brodick KA27 8BU (Opposite the Co-op), ☏ . Apr-Oct daily 16:30-22:30, Nov-Mar closed Monday. Chinese takeaway. Around £7.
- Hooked and Cooked, The Pier, Brodick KA27 8AU (opposite the ferry terminal), ☏ . Daily 12:00-20:00. Popular fish & chip shop, so you might be waiting a while.
- The Coffee Pot, Whiting Bay KA27 8QL. Snacks and good light meals, reasonably priced.
- Machrie Bay Tearoom, Golf Club, Machrie Bay KA27 8DY, ☏ . Daily Apr-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00. Excellent meals, especially the venison burgers. Breakfast, sandwiches and cakes. Sandwiches £4, burger £8.
- 1 The Sandwich Station, Lochranza KA27 8HL (Opposite ferry terminal), ☏ . Tu-Sa 07:30-16:00, Su 09:00-16:00. Offers excellent freshly made sandwiches, snacks and drinks. £5.
- Clubhouse Grill (formerly Fairways), Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club, Blackwaterfoot KA27 8HA, ☏ . Daily 10:30-17:00 (last food order at 16:00). It's okay, but the good chef moved on a couple of years ago.
- 2 Coast Arran, Whiting Bay KA27 8PR, ☏ . Th-Tu 10:00-00:00. Excellent bistro menu, featuring local produce. Vegetarians well catered-for. Delicious chilli. Around £11-15.
- Felicity's at Eden Lodge, Whiting Bay KA27 8QH, ☏ . W-M 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-20:30. Small hotel, the restaurant serves Scottish food and home-made pizza. Dinner mains from £15.
- Casks Cafe, Arran Distillery, Lochranza KA27 8HJ, ☏ . Mar-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Feb 10:00-16:00. Offers good lunch and, of course, whisky!
- 3 , Lochranza KA27 8HJ, ☏ . Th-Tu 17:30-21:00. Evening meals, all home-made. Not licensed, BYOB. Main course £15-£20.
- 4 The Lighthouse, Pirnmill KA27 8HP, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-16:00 and 17:00-21:00. Offers excellent food, menu rotates every 2 weeks. Unlicensed, BYOB without corkage fee. Mains £15-£20.
- 5 Cafe Thyme, Old Byre Showroom, Machrie KA27 8EB, ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Serves excellent burgers, chips and drinks, plus Turkish haggis. Licensed. £10-16.
- eighteen69, Brodick KA27 8BZ (At the Auchrannie Resort), ☏ . Th-M 17:30-21:30. Scottish tapas. Fine dining in casual atmosphere. Dress code: smart casual. Tapas £8, order 3-4 per person.
- Brambles, Brodick KA27 8BZ (At the Auchrannie Resort), ☏ . Daily 12:00-16:30 & 17:30-21:30. Seafood and grill. Top quality casual dining, excellent food. £15-20.
- 6 Brodick Bar, Alma Rd, Brodick KA27 8BD, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-14:30 & 17:30-21:00 (F Sa to 22:30). Extensive blackboard selection. Upmarket.
- See also "Sleep" listings: most hotels have public bars with food.
- Cruize Bar & Brasserie is within the Auchrannie Spa Resort, open daily 07:30-23:00.
- Ormidale Hotel, Brodick KA27 8BY. Daily 11:00-23:00. It has a nice atmosphere (upper part is in former glasshouse), pub quizzes and the most insanely tiled toilet block in the world. Music at weekends. Extensive selection of food.
Food and groceries
Stock up before you come over on the ferry. There’s a Asda in Ardrossan by the pier.
Brodick has two Co-op supermarkets and Lamlash has one, all open daily from 07:00-22:00.
Whiting Bay has two grocery stores, one at the Gulf petrol station, and one in the village centre which also has hot food to go and a deli. Just outside Whiting Bay, Kirkend Nurseries sells exotic & hard-to-get food and old-fashioned sweets as well as plants.
Kildonan Hotel has a shop selling basics such as bread, milk and tinned food.
There is a “farmers' market” at the Kilmory Community Hall on the last Saturday of every month (and the last Saturday in September is the annual fete).
Blackwaterfoot has a grocery store, open daily (but closed from 13:00 on Wednesday). The Kinloch Hotel Bakery sells pizzas (closed Wednesday and Sunday). Galbraiths is a butcher shop.
Pirnmill Village Store and Post Office has food and alcohol for those self-catering. Lochranza campsite sells basics.
Arts and crafts
- Old Byre Showroom, Machrie KA27 8EB (narrow lane off coast road). Daily 10:00-17:00. Shop selling clothing and souvenirs. Next to Cafe Thyme.
- The Whins, off Newton Rd, Lochranza KA27 8JF. Daily 10:00-18:00. A fantastic little shop that makes and sells the famous Arran Stonemen. On the hillside on the north side of the loch, you can drive along nearby Newton Rd but it's a pleasant walk.
- 1 Kilmory Workshop, Cloined, Kilmory KA27 8PH, ☏ . Tu-F 10:00-17:30. Handmade woodwork and stoneware pottery.
- ArCaS (Arran Cancer Support), The Pier, Brodick KA27 8AU (next to ferry terminal), ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-16:00. Charity shop.
- Island Cheese Co, Home Farm, Brodick KA27 8DD (midway between Brodick and castle), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:30. Visit the shop or order hampers online. Among others, they make a delicious blue cheese. No tours, but you can watch the cheese making through a large window.
- Arran Arromatics (Arran Sense of Scotland), The Home Farm, Brodick, Isle of Arran, KA27 8DD, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hostels and bunkhouses
- Shore Lodge, Brodick (next to castle), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 14-bed self-catering facility next to Brodick Castle. It appears to be closed, as is the castle.
- Brodick Bunkhouse Alma Rd, Brodick KA27 8BE, dorm bed £25 ppn.
- 1 Kilmory Hall & Bunkhouse, Kilmory KA27 8PQ, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms with 3, 4 and 8 beds. Facilities include: self catered kitchen dining room, free wifi, tiny community bar downstairs. £25 ppn.
- Arran Sleep Huts, Altachorvie, Lamlash KA27 8LQ (next to Arran Lodge), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Open Feb-Oct. £40 ppn.
- 2 Lochranza Youth Hostel (SYHA), Lochranza KA27 8HL, ☏ . Open March-Oct. Hostel with 13 rooms, 6 en-suite. With large self catering kitchen, 2 dining rooms and 2 guest lounges, laundry facilities, a drying room, cycle storage is available. There are 2 computers and wifi available, £3 an hour. Dorms from £20 ppn, private rooms from £90 per room.
In addition to the sites below, there are many quiet places where you can wild camp legally, thanks to the Right to Access laws.
- Middleton's Caravan & Camping Park, Cuddy Dook Cordon, Lamlash KA27 8NQ, ☏ (Mar-Sep), (Oct-Feb). Good facilities, but very midgey at times!
- Seal Shore Campsite, Kildonan KA27 8SE (12 miles south of Brodick), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Open March-Oct. Lovely site with its own private beach where seals haul out. 2 camping pods and a gypsy caravan sleep 2, The site has a small shop where the site owner, a fisherman, sells his catch, and a few basic grocery items. There's a hotel with public bar close by. Decent purpose-built toilet/shower block, laundry facilities, and a covered BBQ area. Tent £9 ppn, Camping pod or gypsy caravan £35 ppn.
- 3 Lochranza Caravan and Camping Site, Lochranza (Opposite distillery), ☏ (calls between 09:00 and 19:00 if possible). Check-in: 14:00-20:00. Open from Easter to Oct 21. Tent pitches and pods. It also has a small shop selling limited goods and a tearoom which sells home baking. Small tent £9 ppn.
- Glen Rosa, Glen Rosa Lane, Brodick KA27 8DF (off B880). A quaint campsite with excellent views located a few miles up a paved cart track. No caravans or RVs allowed, but you can make campfires and bring pets. Part of the campsite is prone to flooding. £5 ppn.
- Glamping Yurts, Old Manse, Kilmory KA27 8PK (follow lane signed for Kilmory Parish church), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. What it says on the lid: glamping! In Mongolian Yurts! In Arran!
- Auchrannie Resort, Auchrannie Road, Brodick KA27 8BZ (north edge of town), ☏ . Offers 3 types of accommodation - 5* luxury self-catering lodges, 4* traditional country house hotel and 4* modern spa resort - excellent range of on-site services including 2 swimming pools and extensive health and leisure facilities. Country House Hotel B&B doubles from £150.
- 4 Lamlash Bay Hotel, Shore Rd, Lamlash KA27 6LU (next to the Co-op), ☏ . 3-star hotel. Restaurant / bistro with pizza oven, does takeaway, open daily 17:00-20:30. B&B doubles from £150.
- 5 Glenisle Hotel, Lamlash KA27 8LY (on prom), ☏ . 3 star hotel, also has Bistro (daily to 20:30) and bar (to 23:00). B&B double from £140.
- Corrie Hotel, Shore Rd, Corrie KA27 8JB, ☏ . Good 2-star accommodation, bar is open to non-residents. B&B double from £100.
- 6 Lochranza Hotel, Lochranza KA27 8HL, ☏ . 3-star offering varied accommodation all en suite. Good value home-cooked bar food, snacks, teas, coffees etc. The bar has a enviable selection of Scotch whisky - they may still have some Easan Biorach 15 Year Old, produced at the nearby distillery as a limited edition for the hotel. B&B doubles from £60.
- 7 Clisham B&B, Pirnmill KA27 8HP, ☏ . 3-star guest house, open March - Oct. B&B double from £75.
- 8 Best Western Kinloch Hotel, Blackwaterfoot KA27 8ET (from Brodick pier turn right to B880 to Blackwaterfoot; from Lochranza pier turn right on to A841 Blackwaterfoot), ☏ . 3-star hotel with indoor swimming pool and great food. 2 bars. Food is available 12:00-20:30 daily. Bedrooms and self-contained apartments available.
- Blackwaterfoot Lodge, Blackwaterfoot KA27 8EU, ☏ . Open Easter through Sept.
Lots available dotted along the shore road.
- Firth Cottage, Shannochie KA27 8SJ (At the south tip of the island), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:30. A secluded self-catering cottage with stunning views over the sea and Ailsa Craig. No pets.
- Brodick Castle Lodge: outbid in your attempt to buy the castle? But you can still hire the gamekeeper's lodge within the grounds, with 3 double rooms and 2 twins, from £720 a week but usually £1200+. They can supply a maid and a chef if you wish. Lettings are managed by Cottages & Castles tel +44 1738 451 610.
Why on earth would anyone need the internet, when the island's newspaper Arran Banner comes out every Friday? But just in case, Mobile and Wifi access is decent on the ferry from Ardrossan and around the main settlements of Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay. It becomes patchy further out, and (as of mid-2019) on the west side from Blackwaterfoot to Lochranza it’s barely one bar - you'll manage a call but not internet. Enquire ahead about signal strength at your accommodation. If it’s poor, will your life unravel, or will you finally discover what holidays are meant to be like?
Places with public internet and Wifi in Brodick include:
- Library (open Tu 10:00-17:00, Th F 10:00-19:30 and Sa 10:00-13:00) and the Arran Store just outside the ferry terminal.
- Computer Shop, Brodick (To the east of the main Co-op), ☏ . M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 09:00-12:30. This shop offers a range of computing goods and internet access (£1/hr), also good if you run short of a fuse as nowhere else on the island seems to sell them.
Out of town try the Auchrannie Resort (08:00-late 7 days a week), the Best Western Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot and the Lochranza Hotel.
STD code for the island is 01770. There are Post Offices in Brodick, Lamlash, Whiting Bay, Pirnmill and Blackwaterfoot. The village halls in Lochranza and Kilmory and the Kildonan Hotel offer a limited Post Office service on certain days.
Arran is very safe. There’s the expected list of hazards (road traffic, water safety, hill-walking especially if the weather closes in, the occasional aggressive drunk, theft, and so on) but less so than most other places. Common nuisances, here as elsewhere in western Scotland, are sunburn, midge bites, blisters and hypothermia, sometimes all on the same day.
Consider however: you are going to be on an island with no air service. In bad weather the ferries could be cancelled for days. Have you got enough of your regular medications, and how close is your partner to going into labour?
There are three pharmacies on Arran: in Brodick (+44 1770 302250), in Lamlash (+44 1770 600275) and in Whiting Bay (+44 1770 700584). They are all closed on Sundays.
Be reassured that if there is an emergency, the blue-light services and first responders will be well-equipped to deal with it. Don’t be put off coming because you’ve got a dicky heart or similar.
In case of emergency, call 999.
Consider this advice for temporary residents (including tourists).
Simple choice: you either return to the mainland via Brodick to Ardrossan, or you cross to Argyll via Lochranza.
The ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig lands you within 3 miles of Skipness castle, and ten miles from Tarbert, so they can both be visited on day trips from Arran. Stretching south for 40 miles is the Kintyre peninsula, with the small island of Gigha just west, and the Mull seemingly almost within shouting distance of Northern Ireland. From Tarbert there’s a ferry to the Cowal peninsula, a scenic route back to Glasgow. Tarbert also has ferries to Islay (from which you reach Jura), and to Colonsay. If you want Hebrides (which in Arran you didn’t get), find them here.