During a review of my portfolio to see what areas of the country I hadn’t written about I was surprised to find that the Isle of Arran as either not been included at all or very rarely. So here we go. Described by many as ʻScotland in Miniatureʼ, Arran truly is the best of the mainland compressed into an island 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. As well as stunning landscapes amongst other things you will find pretty villages, ancient castles, and prehistoric standing stones. I have only visited the island once for a few days on my way to Islay via Arran and Kintyre although I did manage to circumnavigate the island during those few days. I thought we would start off with a distant view of Arran captured from Skipness on the north-west coast of the Kintyre Peninsula.
Two of the more distinctive and well-known locations on the island are Holy Island and Machrie Moor. Firstly Holy Island which lies on the east coast of Arran and has been owned by Buddhists since 1992 where they have established a meditative retreat and since 2003 a Peace Centre. The earliest recorded name for Holy Island was Inis Shroin, which is old Gaelic for ‘Island of the Water Spirit’. After the time when the Celtic Christian saint St. Molaise lived on the island at the end of the 6th century, it became known as Eilean Molaise, which is Gaelic for ‘Molaise’s Island’. This name gradually evolved over the course of centuries until early in the 19th century the island became generally known as Holy Isle and the village on the other side of the bay became known as Lamlash.
On the west coast of the island lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone.
The raised beach facing the Kilbrannan Sound southeast of Torr Righ Mor on the west coast of Arran has a wealth of rounded boulders; many have been piled into small cairns up to 3 or 4 feet high. In 2005 someone passing the area noted: “It’s a clever balancing act, and they surely can’t survive a good gale”. Well, they had five years on when I visited in 2010.
We can’t leave Arran without taking a look at its famous mountain, Goat Fell, and its main town. Brodick is the main settlement on the island and is halfway along the east coast in Brodick Bay below Goat Fell, the tallest mountain on Arran. The name is derived from Norse roots meaning “Broad Bay”. The harbour receives the main ferry between Arran and the mainland via Ardrossan.
I am afraid that’s it for now – well it was only a short visit but one I hope you all will make. You won’t be disappointed.
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