Easter kind of crept up on my this year. Or maybe it was just April that crept up on me. The year seems to be flying by. Anyway, the Monday before the Easter weekend, P and I realised that we both had Easter Monday off work (I also had Good Friday off but I’m trying not to rub it in too much). We needed a plan and quickly came up with visiting Arran.
I’ve never been to any of the Scottish Islands before, despite having lived in Glasgow for 10 years, so I was really looking forward to the trip. Incidentally, if you’re anywhere near Glasgow, a trip to Arran is really easy to organise. We took advantage of the rail and sail options offered by Scotrail. We took the train from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan Harbour, then the ferry from the harbour to Brodick. Easy peasy.
Because it was the Easter weekend and we’d left things a bit late, we couldn’t find an affordable hotel in Brodick, Arran’s main town. Instead, we booked into a guesthouse in Whiting Bay, a smaller town about 7 miles down the coast. When we arrived on the island on Sunday it was decidedly damp. Occasionally the drizzle eased off a bit, but there was no avoiding getting rained on. This means that I can say one thing with confidence: Arran is beautiful even in the rain.
We explored Brodick a bit, checking out the chocolate shop and the Arran Foods shop, as well as a bar set slightly out of the main town. It seems like almost every bar and cafe becomes a music venue in the evenings. Everywhere has live music and open mic nights and if we’d stayed longer I’m sure we would have seen some of this.
We took the bus down to Whiting Bay and checked into our adorable guest house, The Burlington. It’s recently been renovated and everything felt very new and clean, but with a definite style and some nods to the fact that, even if it’s recently had a lick of paint, its been here a while. We had a double room with a sea view and the bay was just across the road. Having dried off a bit we decided to go explore.
We should have known really, that after 6 pm on Easter Monday in a small, rural village on a Scottish island, that not much would be open. We cursed our foolishness for not having bought a bottle of wine in Brodick and settled in to enjoy a walk, even if it was still a little wet out. Eventually, we gave up and stopped at another guest house, Eden Lodge, to eat in their restaurant, Felicity’s.
I had made it my mission to eat fish and chips on Arran and sure enough, fish and chips were on the menu, which made ordering easy. Oh, and they had mussels on special as a starter so that was an easy choice as well. P surprised me by braving a spring vegetable and wild garlic soup (I know it sounds delicious, but he’s fussy) and the Easter lamb that was on special. No complaints over here.
We wandered back to our hotel for a few drinks in their bar before turning in for the night. In the morning, the room looked significantly lighter, and it seemed like the rain had finally eased off, allowing light to stream in through the curtains. We shuffled downstairs for breakfast, which we’d ordered on checking in the previous afternoon.
Let me tell you, The Burlington does a mean full breakfast. The bacon and the potato scone were particular highlights and I don’t know who brews the coffee, but they really mean it. If you stay and you don’t like your coffee strong, order some hot water to dilute it – it’s powerful stuff.
We took a walk along the beach before catching the bus back into Brodick. We’d considered taking a tour of the Arran Brewery but the tour was at 2 pm and our ferry left at 4 – we weren’t sure we’d have time. Instead, we decided to take a walk into the woods and up the hills just outside the town. Again, due to lack of time, we decided against Goat Fell, although it’s awfully impressive and we’ll probably consider it in future, and instead went for a mark on our map that was labelled “cup and ring stones.”
It turns out cup and ring marks are an example of prehistoric art. We found the stone, but there was no sign or information about it, which made for interesting Wikipedia-ing later on. No one seems to be entirely sure what they’re for or why they’re so ubiquitous but it was kind of cool to find one.
We wandered back into town, bought ice cream, souvenirs and lunch, had a game of mini golf, and finally boarded our ferry back to Ardrossan. Now that we know how easy it is to visit, even on a whim, I’m sure we’ll be back, but I can’t help eyeing up the other islands as well. Maybe next time we’ll try Mull or Islay.