Last weekend, I was lucky enough to explore a place that I’ve been wanting to tick off my bucket list for quite some time now. On a picture perfect Friday in August, we jumped on the CalMac ferry in Ardrossan harbour and soon found ourselves with feet firmly planted on Isle of Arran.
Arran is the 7th largest island in Scotland, and it’s affectionately known as “Scotland in Miniature”. And trust me when I say that it’s not without reasons: the northern parts of the island is filled with the same rugged mountains and high peaks as you will find in the Highlands, while the south can offer the picturesque hills, peaceful lochs and flat farmland that are typical of the Scottish lowlands and the Ayrshire coast. Whether you’re visiting Scotland for the first or the tenth time, I can highly recommend getting on the ferry to Arran. It’s the perfect destination for both those looking for a weekend of hiking and outdoors experiences, and those looking for a calm weekend escape from the busy streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Arran has it all, I can promise you that.
We went to Arran because we are both keen hikers, and I had heard rumours that the scenery on Arran is some of the best in Scotland (spoiler alert: it is!). Our choice quickly fell on the stunning coastal route between Brodick and Lamlash. In this wee article, I’ll take you through our hiking route, suggest some good places to eat and drink in Lamlash, and show you the absolute best place to rest your head while on Arran. So let’s get to it!
Isle of Arran: Hiking The Coastal Path from Brodick to Lamlash
Arran is filled with amazing hiking opportunities. I mean it – this is a hiker’s paradise! For those of you looking for a real challenge, I can recommend climbing Goatfell, which is nearly tall enough to be a proper Munro.
We had very limited time on the island – and on top of that I was recovering from a flu that had left me bedridden for nearly ten days – so we decided to pick a shorter and less challenging hike. After reading a few online hiking guides, we decided to hike back and forth between Brodick, where the ferry arrives, and our B&B which was in Lamlash, on the southside of the island. There are two main hiking paths between Brodick and Lamlash: the fast route and the scenic route.
Of course, we instantly agreed on the scenic route.
And, in retrospect, I can assure you that we chose wisely. It turns out that the coastal path between Lamlash and Brodick makes an absolutely stunning day trip – and it’s not really that challenging so you can do this in a day no matter the level of fitness. Just remember to bring plenty of water, some snacks and enough warm clothes (it’s windy by the coast, you know!). According to the route map we found online, the hike was said to be about 5K. However, we stuck to the path all the way and arrived in Lamlash with more than 9K registered on our iPhones. While we did go for a wee stroll in Brodick before we set out, it does certainly not add up to those extra 4K. The route is by no means hard, but always be careful of you are planning on solo hiking or setting out in the early evening. Better safe than sorry, you know.
From start to finish, our hike was filled with breathtaking views. We were slowly strolling on small roads nestled between farmhouses and the seaside. We were also taken over three fields that were filled to the brim with playful lambs.
As we left the fields behind, we started on the longest part of the hike – which is also the one with the most stunning of views. We made our way along the coastline, past the moody waves of the Clyde, past locals patiently fishing for today’s dinner, and always – always – keeping an eye out for the impressive wildlife that exists on Arran. We were especially on the lookout for seals, as the many beaches on Arran is supposedly filled with them. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to catch a glimpse of them during our hike. I guess it just means that we have to come back another time, oh nooo.
Our path was filled with stunning views and breathtaking scenery, but I still think that our favourite view must have been near the end of the coastal path: as our path suddenly turned right towards the village of Lamlash, we were faced with a spectacular view of the Holy Isle peaking at us above the cliffs.
A small sidenote, but I do genuinely believe that Isle of Arran is every photographer’s dream. I was almost constantly snapping photos during our hike (come to think of it, maybe that’s why it took us so long?), and I actually had to recharge my camera once we got to our B&B…
Where to Eat, Drink and Be Jolly in Lamlash, Isle of Arran
Hiking is hard, guys, so it’s important to TREAT YO’ SELF after a long day on the road.
I had been down with the flu for the past week, so the minute we finished our hike I basically forced my poor boyfriend into the very first pub we could find in Lamlash. And hey, it was a rather good one too! The Drift Inn has the sea as its closest neighbour, and we sat in their beer garden, ice cold cider in hand, while watching the waves come crashing in. They also offer a stunning view of the Holy Isle – which today is some sort of meditation retreat led by Tibetan Monks (Yes, seriously).
Later in the evening, we nipped out to Lamlash Bay Hotel for some fresh, locally sourced food. The atmosphere was a wee bit more fine dining than what you would expect from your typical Scottish pub, but I can highly recommend it. The food was great, the wine was delicious and the atmosphere was cozy. I mean it, if you don’t finish your evening with a cheese platter and a glass of Port at Lamlash Bay Hotel, then you’re not really living your best Arran-life.
The Best Place to Stay on Isle of Arran
Completely by accident, we booked what must certainly be the best B&B on Arran.
Monamore Guesthouse is owned by Emily, who runs the guesthouse with the aid of her faithful dog Poppy. We were quite surprised to find that this was actually Emily and Monamore’s first ever season – Emily bought the old guesthouse back in 2017 and she spent the better part of a year fixing it up and refurbishing it. And the result were stunning: 4 amazing rooms, all equipped with the comfiest beds possible AND a luxury bathtub where you can ease your tired muscles after a day of hiking. All of the rooms were named after Emily’s favourite places on the island: Glen Rosa, Dun Fionn, Glenashdale and Drumadoon.
I can definitely recommend this for your stay on Arran.
How to get from Glasgow to Isle of Arran?
Travelling from Glasgow to Isle of Arran is easier than you might think. A train from Glasgow Central Station will deliver you directly to Ardrossan harbour in under an hour, and from here you can just jump on the CalMac ferry heading to Brodick. The ferry itself takes around an hour. You can buy the tickets directly from the CalMac ferry ticket office (if you have a car, you should definitely pre-book as there’s only room for a limited number of vehicles) but I do recommend that you get the Rail & Sail tickets from Scotrail – that will give you one ticket that counts for both the train and the ferry. Beware, however, that the Rail & Sail tickets to Arran can – for some strange reason – not be bought online. You need to get them in person at the ticket office at Glasgow Central. Besides that though, it’s all easy peasy.
From Brodick, you can easily make your way to your next destination. If you’re going to Auchrannie Luxury Resort, they can arrange a pick-up service for you near the harbour. There’s also public buses taking you to Lochranza (north side of the island) and Lamlash (south side of the island). If you’re feeling sporty, you can obviously make the journey on foot (which is a very popular option as the buses get super full on Arran – especially on Saturdays and Sundays).
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