Scotland Day #4: Isle of Arran

September 9, 2014 § 3 Comments

The morning of Day Four found us sore, but wonderfully warm inside our barebone camping pods.  Our backs weren’t too thrilled with sleeping on floors and in too-small cars, however when we opened our door and were greeted with frost over everything, we were perfectly content with our heated box.  I honestly do not know how all of the other fuzzy Christmas-patterned pj-clad people manage to camp outside in that bitter cold and wind and rain.

IsleOfArranLochranzaCamping

After a round of mini golf with the fawns (one of the perks of staying on deer-infested gold courses), we once again stuffed everything into our backpacks and began walking out of town.  Faretheewell, picturesque Lochranza!

IsleOfArranLochranza
And so we continued walking around the island, now looping back down south on the western side. We got one long lift down the entire edge facing the Argyll & Bute peninsula, from Lochranza to Blackwaterfoot. Then, time for another scenic picnic:

IsleOfArranWelcomeToBrodick

And off again, a piedi.  We looped around the outskirts of the town, skipping down dirt paths that crossed through fields filled with boysenberries and bird families.

IsleOfArranBirdies

Then, I decided that I wanted a “scenic detour” (because trotting on the side of a road with a car that passes every half hour on some mystic island just isn’t exotic enough for me).  So, we turned right at the first Coastal Foot Path sign that we saw at the side of the road.  According to my crude map, it should have been a short, harmless little detour of no more than two kilometers.  And it did start off innocently enough, with a beautiful (even if slightly muddy) narrow path through fields of ferns and purple flowers:

IsleOfArranCoastalTrek

As we keep walking, we find ourselves in a sea of flowers that have completely consumed the trail:

IsleOfArranCoastalTrekUomoBack

Which sounds romantic enough: lost in purple on isolated beaches at the bottom of high cliffs on some Scottish island.  Except that these cute little lavender flowers soon turned into really vicious thistles and spiky sticks (though still heartbreakingly beautiful, I suppose), and the ground turned more wet than dry, and the rocks that we needed to climb over kept getting larger and larger.

After an hour or so of trudging and cursing (and admiring and giggling), we admitted defeat.  I took off my shoes and walked along the water, hopping between large rocks like a mountain (coast?) goat.  Eventually, we found an old, abandoned driveway that we could scale back up the mountain on.  After hopping over a few spiky fences, we were back on the main road.

Lunch Break #2, and then a few more miles of walking.  Getting closer to the eastern side of the island, we saw a smaller island, laying about a kilometer offshore, way down below.  The Isle of Pladda:

IsleOfArranLighthouseIsland
A few steps later, we met this guy:

IsleOfArranYak
And his offspring:

IsleofArranBabyYak

After a couple more hitchhiking lifts, we eventually looped around the southern part of the island, and came up to Lamlash, on the eastern coast.  There, we enjoyed our first platter of fish and chips, a glass of ale, and fields of red:

IsleofArranRedFlowers
From Lamlash, we took a beautiful forest path back to Brodick.  For a few moments, we found ourselves walking through a canopy of really colorful and really big (one poofball = one human head) flowers:

IsleofArranPoofyFlowers

And, just as the sun was coming down, we made it back to Brodick.  We started walking at noon and looped around the entire length of the island, relaying only on our legs and several local rides… and managed to make it to our destination- without once looking at the watch or thinking about it- thirty minutes before the last ferry left for the mainland.  So, we stocked up on Arran Dairy ice cream and bid adieu to Arran.

IsleOfArranBeach
They say that Arran is “Scotland in Miniature”, and so that was an ideal introductory glance to Scotland.  However, as the next day would show us, this “miniature” is truly on a small scale- not only is Scotland big and wide and expansive, but it is tall and high and deep and rich on a scale that is utterly overwhelming.

I’m not sure how it was possible, but every day just kept getting more beautiful and more impressive.  So, nap time on the side of the road around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and the next morning- off to the Isle of Skye.  Stay tuned!

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