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The Isle of Arran is a rugged and scenic visitor destination in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Continuously inhabited since prehistoric times, Arran is dotted with standing stones, medieval castles and historic sites, as well as beautiful beaches, coastal paths, mountains, forests, rivers and lochs. It’s the perfect place to hike, bike or climb, go craft shopping, spot wonderful wildlife like seals, or simply relax in a traditional Scottish pub while sipping a locally produced whiskey or ale.
When deciding which Isle of Arran hotel to stay in, you have a number of different areas to choose from. If you’re a fan of hiking and climbing, then the north of the island, with its stunning mountains and hills, is the spot for you. This includes Goat Fell which, despite its reputation as Arann’s highest peak, is actually the easiest to climb and makes for a brilliant family day out. If cycling’s more your speed, then you should stay on the south of the island, where the renowned Arran Coastal Way cycle route provides terrific trails for all-day outings.
There are also plenty of villages to choose from on the Isle of Arran. Lamlash is the largest and is home to sandy beaches and its own yacht club. Brodick, home of Brodick Castle, is the site of the main ferry terminal, and serves as a convenient base for shorter trips. The hamlet of Machrie is quiet and secluded, and is near to the stone circles of Machrie Moor and Auchagallon. For some stunning Arann scenery, you could opt for Lochranza in the north, with the atmospheric castle that towers over the bay. Lochranza is also the home of the island’s only whiskey distillery and is a wonderful site for spotting deer.
The stunning scenery that surrounds the 4-star makes this a prime spot for luxury seekers and nature lovers. Set in the village of Brodick, you’ll have access to a full-service spa and 3 restaurants, while verdant shrubbery and rugged mountains serve as a picturesque backdrop to cocktails on the balcony. If you want to set yourself up near the beach, Kildonan Hotel is just the ticket. A hearty complimentary breakfast provides the fuel you’ll need for swimming and water sports, while the colourful garden is a great place to wind down on a summer’s evening. Based just a stone’s throw from the sands of Whiting Bay, the 3-star Burlington Guest House & Restaurant is a budget-friendly alternative that still packs the requisite punch for water babies and families alike.
Situated between Ayrshire and Kintyre, Arran is a National Scenic Area of Scotland. The island has much to offer those who love outdoor activities, nature, history, dining and shopping. The north of Arran is mountainous, making it wonderful for walkers, hikers and climbers, while the south has the circular coastal road from Machrie to Lochranza which is much beloved of cyclists. The island is also one-quarter forest and visitors can enjoy camping, gorge-scrambling and mountain-biking in its woodlands. Arran also has many lovely beaches, each with its own distinct character. Lamlash beach has a long strip of sand perfect for walking barefoot, and it is conveniently located close to play areas for families with young children, as well as the Lamlash village green and the Arran Yacht Club. Machrie is a shingle beach with a great picnic area from which you can watch the boats sail along the Kilbrannan Sound. The beach at Whiting Bay has a small jetty which is all that remains of what was once the longest pier on the river Clyde.
Beyond beaches, Arran’s key attractions include Goat Fell, the island’s tallest peak; Lochranza village, known for its castle, deer and the island’s only whisky distillery; the Machrie Moor Standing Stones; the Blackwaterfoot Cliffs; the King's Cave, which legend has it was a hideout of King Robert the Bruce; and the Heritage Museum at Rosaburn. You can also enjoy activities like seal-spotting, horse-riding, archery, gorge-scrambling, mountain-biking, sea kayaking, sailing and paragliding. Or you could spend the day playing golf on one of the island’s 7 courses – you can purchase an Arran Golf Pass that gives you access to them all.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll be fascinated by the island’s amazing heritage, including the various sites of prehistoric remnants such as Torr a’ Chaisteal Dun and Kilpatrick Dun, plus the six sets of stone circles on Machrie Moor, and the castles of Brodick, Skipness Castle and Lochranza. Arran is also a shopper’s delight where you can buy locally produced food, furniture, jewellery, clothes and paintings.
Whatever you decide to do on the Isle of Arran, you’re sure to be swept away by the many wonders of this beautiful island.
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