When I blogged about the lovely Isle of Arran recently, I bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t found time to visit since the summer of 2015. Thankfully, that changed last weekend when we sailed out of a rainy Ardrossan and arrived 55 minutes later on the sunny Isle of Arran for a stay at the fabulous Auchrannie Resort.
As soon as our feet hit Arran soil, we set off in search of a remote spot. Glen Sannox fitted the bill perfectly. We hadn’t been walking long when we arrived at a small cemetery. I spotted a grave inside connected to a Victorian tale of murder, so we went inside for a closer look.
In 1889 a Scotsman and an Englishman arrived on Arran together, to climb Goatfell. The Scotsman returned from his hike and promptly left the island. The Englishman lay murdered near the summit of the mountain, hidden under a large rock. He was later buried at Sannox under a large rock – somewhat ironic. The Scotsman was caught, and spent the rest of his life in prison.
Glen Sannox was stunning, but we appear to have arrived on the island after a week long monsoon. The ground was drookit (Scots for awfy wet). You may remember Mr G and I have an aversion to bogs, mud and wet feet. It sends us into a bog, mud and puddle jumping frenzy. As we navigated the glen, we must have looked like a deranged hiking version of the Lords a Leaping from ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’.
After leaping around Glen Sannox we headed to Lochranza. Lochranza is home to an imposing castle ruin, the Isle of Arran Distillery and lots of beautiful stags.
The copper still outside the distillery was glowing in the late afternoon light, contrasting perfectly with the surrounding hills. I’d be sampling some of the distillery’s heaven in a glass (Arran Gold) later back at the hotel.
Before checking into the hotel there was one last thing I wanted to do – pay homage to the Monarch of the Glen. I found a group of stags in a field nearby, and crept up to them with the stealth of a ninja. One in particular stood out, as he had an impressive set of antlers. I counted 14 spiky doo dahs or tines. Not quite a 16 tine Monarch of the Glen, but still an imposing and majestic beast.
Auchrannie is a spa resort in the village of Brodick. It consists of two hotels, luxury self-catering lodges and several on site restaurants and bars. It sits in extensive grounds backed by mountains.
On arrival we were greeted with a warm welcome and given directions to our room in the newer spa hotel.
To say we loved our room would be an understatement – we absolutely ADORED our room. It was a huge two bedroom suite, tastefully decorated and with quality fixtures and fittings throughout. The complimentary toiletries were made by Arran Aromatics – a quality brand, with the most amazing smelling products.
Our room came with access to an executive lounge complete with a terrace, hot tub and an unlimited supply of jelly beans and Tunnock’s Teacakes – woo hoo.
I’ve stayed in some amazing hotel rooms over the years, but this was by far my favourite.
That night, we ate dinner in the dog friendly Waterside Bar, which is part of Brambles Seafood & Grill. The place had a really relaxed vibe and the staff were lovely. The food was excellent too and I struck gold with a delicious potato & leek soup starter (I know, I’m weirdly obsessed with soup)!
The boy snoozed lazily behind my chair, only springing into action when a prawn escaped from his Dad’s plate. He gave the monkfish & Prawn scampi a big paws up.
A perfect end to a perfect day. It got even better when Mr G nipped down to the bar to get us a nightcap of Arran Gold each.
Next morning we were up early for breakfast. It was buffet style which I love, as it lets you mix continental with cooked. I ate an eclectic combination of Ayrshire bacon butty, Arran Oaties with Arran Cheese, plus Nutella from a teaspoon – classy!
We made it as far as Lamlash a whopping 4 miles away, before we pulled over to watch the tail end of the sunrise over Holy Isle.
I’d picked us a walk at Whiting Bay on the pretence that it looked like good exercise. I mumbled something about a hill and a lovely view, but omitted to mention that it wasn’t exercise I was looking for but the Giants’ Graves – a couple of 5,000 year old Neolithic burial cairns.
Luckily the cairns were reached via a path which zig-zagged its way steeply uphill, meaning we got a decent walk and I got my history fix.
The view over Whiting Bay and across to Holy Isle was gorgeous. We stopped loads to admire it and take photos, grateful of an excuse to catch our breath.
Although the cairns have been much disturbed over the years, they’re still an impressive sight. An on-site information board shows a fascinating reconstruction of how they once looked. It really brought the place to life for me.
It was turning out to be a lovely day so we decided to extend our walk to the nearby Glenashdale Falls (Eas a’ Chrannaig).
I wasn’t prepared for how impressive they’d be – plunging 140 feet into a deep gorge below. There was a small viewing platform, perched precariously over the gorge. I stepped onto it and shuffled nervously to the end to take a couple of photos. My hands shook as I tried to steady my camera for a non-blurry shot.
I left feeling like a hero after confronting my fear/dislike of gorges. It’s quite a rational fear really, as I don’t know anyone who’d relish the prospect of falling into a gaping abyss.
We finished our walk chattering away happily about the sights we’d seen. As we descended into Whiting Bay the sky was getting bluer by the minute. The gorse was beginning to bloom yellow and wood pigeons were cooing lazily nearby. Then, nestled by a small stream I spotted the first sign of spring – snowdrops. Hooray, spring was on its way.
We decided to let the wee dug cut loose on the beach for a while, so headed to the lovely sandy bay at Kildonan. The light over Ailsa Craig and the small island of Pladda was magical. It looked surreal, like a watercolour painting.
The wee dug gave it laldy with some very impressive fast running and was soon completely puffed out.
I’d chosen this lovely spot because I knew there was a castle ruin nearby. Sadly the ruin eluded me. The path to reach it led off into long, golden grass which looked warm and summery. It turned out to be wet and boggy. We leapt out of it, as if the ground was exploding beneath our feet.
Before leaving to find somewhere dug friendly for lunch we had a wee go on some swings by the beach. It was great fun – Mr G declared himself better at swings than me. He said his technique gained him more height. I’m sure when swings becomes an Olympic sport he’ll be invited to captain team GB!
We enjoyed a tasty and dug friendly lunch at the Kinloch Hotel at Blackwaterfoot. Over lunch Mr G suggested we visit Machrie Moor next. I looked at him as if he’d just sprouted a second head. Was the Husband I thought I knew really well, actually suggesting we visit ancient standing stones?! It turns out he was only looking for somewhere nice to walk off lunch.
Despite it being a lovely day, Machrie Moor was a quagmire of mud and boggy puddles. Mud and boggy puddles may be my outdoor arch nemesis but I’ll walk barefoot on hot coal for a standing stone. I once dragged us into a beezer of a bog on the Isle of Jura when I spotted one in a field! Mr G was not best pleased and cast it up for weeks afterwards.
The stones at Machrie Moor are some of Scotland’s finest. Plus, it’s not every day you get to admire them reflecting in big, boggy puddles.
As we wound our way back around the island towards Auchrannie, we stopped at the tiny village of Catacol to admire the pretty row of cottages known as the 12 Apostles. They were built as fishermans’ cottages to house crofters cleared from the land to make way for deer. The crofters failed to embrace a new career in fishing, and most moved elsewhere on the island in protest.
We didn’t quite make it back to Auchrannie without further stops as Lochranza Castle was casting a stunning reflection in Loch Ranza as we drove by. ‘STOP, REFLECTION’ I shouted, as all three of us piled out of the car for the thousandth time that day.
The boy, wet and muddy from his day out donned his monogrammed purple drying robe. He was super-excited to find himself back at Auchrannie and swaggered into reception looking like a tiny canine version of Hugh Hefner.
We left the boy sleeping off the 23,000+ steps we’d walked that day, and ate dinner in the Cruize Bar & Brasserie – our meals were delicious. The place was really busy, yet the service was quick and efficient. Our dinner felt intimate and relaxed, despite the number of other diners. We decided to indulge ourselves with a celebratory bottle of champagne to toast a wonderful trip (ok I’ll confess, the night before we treated ourselves to a bottle to toast the weekend)!
After dinner I couldn’t resist the lure of the hot tub once more.
As I lay, looking up at the moon it made me think about Arran’s ancient islanders, with their impressive burial cairns and stone circles. It was funny to think that once upon a time, they too had looked up at that very same moon – I pictured them out on Machrie Moor, gazing skywards.
What’s so good about Auchrannie is that it has a wide appeal. It’s brilliant if you love the great outdoors and want an activity packed break. It’s also perfect if you’re looking for somewhere to relax and unwind.
What we loved best was how wonderfully dog friendly Auchrannie was. From tasty doggy treats in rooms, to dog friendly wining and dining, a special VIP entrance (very important pooch) and plentiful towels to dry the paws of muddy island explorers. Dogs aren’t just tolerated at Auchrannie, they’re welcomed like one of the family.
All three of us were sorry to leave, but happy to have found a fabulous new home from home on the beautiful Isle of Arran – it won’t be long until we return.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Auchrannie Resort for kindly inviting us to stay. Although our stay was on a complimentary dinner, bed & breakfast basis all opinions, musings and information contained within this blog are accurate and entirely my own.
Until next time…………..