Any trip is usually improved by the addition of a ferry. It makes even close by places seem exotic. Simply crossing even the smallest stretch of water cranks the adventure factor up a notch.
Arran is an island of 5000 permanent residents. It covers an area of 423 square kilometers. It’s main port is Brodick where the ferry arrives from Ardrossan on the mainland. You can also catch a ferry into Lochranza in the north of the island from the Kintyre peninsula.
For us it made the perfect destination for a long weekend as the total drive time from Bristol was less than 8 hours meaning we could travel up and stay in our converted van. We hadn’t booked a campsite, there are four on the island. We knew Lochranza was full and Seal Shore in the South of Island seemed a bit too far from the hikes we wanted to do so rang ahead to see if Bridgend Campsite had a free pitch. Luckily they did although we would have been happy, if a little smelly, either wild camping or staying at the very basic but beautiful site in Glen Rosa.
15 minutes drive from Brodick Bridgend was a fantastic little campsite with around 15 marked pitches. Free hot showers and a fridge for campers meant it ticked all my campsite boxes and at £12 a night for the two of us and the van it was an absolute bargain.
On our first day we got April’s mountain of the month under our belts with a hike up Goatfell, the islands tallest peak. I’ve written about it here. The hike up Goatfell really helped us get our bearings and we could see a number of incredibly appealing horseshoes from the top. On the second day we opted for the three Beinns horseshoe which takes in Beinn Nuis, Beinn Tarsuan and Beinn A’Chliabain. It accessed from Glen Rosa which would have made a beautiful walk on its own particularly if mountainous routes aren’t your thing. A wide valley with a babbling burn carrying crystal clear water out to sea surrounded by jagged peaks to both sides was a balm for the soul in these interesting times we live in. The burn and its tributaries seemed to be a magnet for wildlife as we saw an adder, a grass snake and a red deer all within about 100m of each other.
Some very gentle scrambling was needed to move around the horseshoe particularly on the descent from Beinn Tarsuan. I think we also missed the main path down onto the bealach and indulged ourselves with a stomach churning exposed traverse under the Consolation Tor marked on OS 1:25000 maps.
After consecutive 6 hour hill days some gentle tourism was required and we enjoyed driving over to the west coast, around the southern tip of the island and taking a much more gentle walk to the Giants Graves and Glenashdale Falls from Whiting Bay. A quick ice cream in Brodick and it was time to hit the road again back south.
Where did the ale come in? Well obviously we went to the pub everyday and even visited Arran Brewery shop to get some sauce from the source. Of the Arran Brewery offerings I really enjoyed their Black IPA and special mention should go to the Pierhead Tavern in Lamlash for their excellent fish and chips, roof terrace and craft beer selection.