(Finally) Scotland Day #3: Isle of Arran

September 8, 2014 § 2 Comments

And thus we find ourselves on Day Three of our Great Scotland Adventure (though the first day in which we actually wake up in Scotland!).  After a chilly, restless night on the floor of a great Couchsurfing family, we got up at 5 AM (oops… guess my phone was still set to Italian time), made ourselves another cuppa, and headed out in the pouring rain.  Today, we were only driving for 20 minutes to Ardrossan, a port city with ferry service to the mystic Isle of Arran.

We arrived at the ferry dock with black skies, raging rain, and a bitterly freezing wind.  As the point of this little island excursion was to leave the car on mainland and to hike around a bit and sleep in a campsite and get lost and get found again, the idea of spending the two days getting soaked and wind-bitten and getting frozen to death did not sound too appealing.  In our state of confusion, we bought a few more boxed of digestive cookies (which can be labeled ’emergency food’ in any situation) to help us think… and then jumped on the ferry last minute.

Best decision of the trip!

It was an hour of bumpy waters, but just as we were nearing the island, we saw patches of blue in the sky and as we were landing, a rainbow appeared over the water.

IsleOfArranWelcomeRainbow

And from then, it was sunny skies and perfect weather.  In the end, the stormy crossing added another layer of mystique to the island- kind of like crossing some grand sea storm and really be set on getting somewhere before arriving to a paradise island.

IsleOfArranColors
And what a paradise island it was!

We landed in Brodick, a port settlement on the east side of the island.  Our camping area for that night was in Lochranza, on the northern tip of the island.  There is only one road on Arran, which goes in a circle around the coast and has a length of approximately 56 miles.  We decided to just walk in a (counterclockwise) circle to see it all.  So… with our one backpack filled with provisions, we began walking north:

IsleOfArranWalking

We took a few mini stops: a heritage museum, a cheese store (so many cheddar samples!), an aromatherapy shop, and an artisan toy nook.  Arran is simple and lovely; just cute little houses.  I think that there was one grocery store on the entire island.  So, all of these quirky local ‘shops’ that we stumbled upon were particularly fun to browse through.

Eventually, we got tired of walking and decided to check into our camping pod before tackling the hills around there sans zaino.  So, we stuck our thumb out- the bicycles laughed at our attempt to get a ride from them, but two lovely locals got us promptly to our destination: Lochranza.IsleOfArranLochranza2

We checked into our pod (a simple wooden structure with a floor to sleep on and a heater- exactly what we needed) and then checked out our surroundings.  We were staying on a gold course with a fearless, extensive herd of deer:

IsleOfArranLochranzaGolfCourseDeer

At first, we were hesitant if it was okay to walk between all of these antlered creatures, but, soon, we became best friends.

Then we went on a short little hike around our hill, to the Fairy Den.  It was a lovely seaside stroll:

IsleOfArranLochranzaFerns

, with lots of smooth pebbles to play with:

IsleOfArranLochranzaPebbles

, and flowers to admire:

IsleOfArranLochranzaFlowers

, and perfectly-placed benches to lounge upon:

Eventually, after our first Scottish encounter with invisible mud, we made it to the Fairy Den, and then scaled a ferny hill back to our side of the area.  On the way down, we found an eclectic artist in his art studio/shop, and came back down to our campsite just as the sun was going down on the castle:

IsleOfArranLochranzaCastle
So, we waded through the icy water and crossed the river and explored the castle (authentically rustic):

IsleOfArranLochranzaCastle2

, and then befriended some swans:

IsleOfArranLochranzaSwans
, and stopped by the Thursday night family ceilidh gathering to get in some traditional music and dance steps under our belts.

After that, with the sun finally down, it was time for us to stumble back to our cozy little camping pod, dry out our shoes, and collapse.  Curled up and warm, with an energetic stream running right outside of our window and the stars bright in front of our glass door, it was pretty much the perfect night to spend on Arran.

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