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Scotland in miniature: Why tourists flock to Arran all year round

Take a look at some of the top reasons to take a trip to Scotland's 7th largest island.

Isle of Arran: Spectacular view taken from West Kilbride, Ayrshire
Isle of Arran: Spectacular view taken from West Kilbride, Ayrshire

The islands of Scotland were often seen as a quiet destination for retirees, with their tranquil settings and gentler pace of life. But the isles have seen quite a revival in recent years and have become a hot destination for every demographic.

Keeping up with this ever-growing amount of visitors, the islands have seen a surge in population with several being named the best place to bring up children in a recent survey.

Large-scale movie productions also target the small islands in their hunt for extraordinary scenery. Directors Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes chose the isles of Skye and Orkney to set their critically acclaimed films The BFG (2016) and Skyfall (2012).

The Isle of Arran, commonly referred to as “Scotland in miniature”, has become one of the most popular spots throughout the year. Whether you are a Scot or travelling from further afield, a quick ferry ride from Ardrossan Harbour to Brodick will get you there.

With its rich history and famous whisky, here are a few reasons why the Isle of Arran is the perfect destination for those who want to experience Scotland in less than 24 hours.

Beautiful setting: River flowing through Glen Rosa.

In Scotland, we never miss an opportunity to show off our stunning sights that really belong on movie screens.

The island is rich with spectacular scenery; visitors can trek through the vast greenery or the many coastal walks dotted across the island to soak in the valleys, rock pools and buildings.

Or, better yet, spend the afternoon scaling the battered mud trails to watch the sunset over the Mull of Kintyre coastline from the top of Arran’s highest mountain, Goat Fell.

Whether you’re into vibrant sunsets or pretty flowers, the Isle of Arran is home to Scotland’s famous views.

History: Lochranza castle is towards the north of the island.

Whether you are a devoted Downtonian or an obsessed fan of Outlander, the two main castles in Brodick and Lochranza intrigues even the most unwilling of visitors with their tales of ghosts and invasions.

Head into the heart of the island and explore the much loved Glenashdale Falls and Giant’s Graves, but take care and watch your footing – the trail offers everything that is great about walking, with beautiful sights and wildlife as well as the occasional slippery rock.

One of Arran’s best known historical tales is that of Robert the Bruce and the spider; presumed to have taken place towards the west of the island in King’s Caves, the origin tale of the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” attracts many visitors to the island every year.

Winter wonderland: Arran’s tallest mountain coated with snow. Andy Gray Digital 2016

Not quite the ‘Costa del Scotland’, Arran can experience all of Scotland’s amazing and not-so-amazing weather in one day.

With temperatures dipping below freezing in spring, the island has played host to every storm imaginable; snow, hail, thunder and wind, and even has records of an earthquake hitting the south end in 2014.

However, it is not all bad weather; it is not uncommon to spend a day paddling in the sea during the autumn months in Whiting Bay – and watch out for a few inquisitive seals too.

Worn out: Hikers take a breather to take in the views of the island.

Explore the caves and gorges with Arran’s many adventure companies for thrilling views and a state-of-the-art experience of the ins and outs of the island.

Thrill-seekers can test their limits with abseiling, rock climbing and paragliding all across the island.

For those keen on swimming, September 20 marked the 8th anniversary of Scotland’s only “No-take-zone” which is, you guessed it, on our favourite Isle of Arran.

With no fishing allowed whatsoever, Lamlash Bay is the place to be for divers wanting to see uninterrupted Scottish marine life, and is an excellent opportunity for some underwater footage.

Not all who wander are lost, after all.

Highland Cow: These beautiful Scot’s animals call Arran its home.

Arran is home to some of Scotland’s favourite animals; if you catch the ferry this autumn, you might just spot a red deer, or see a golden eagle in its prime season.

Autumn also sees an increase in seal sightings; if this hasn’t seal-ed the deal for you, autumn is the best season to see basking sharks popping up for their annual visit at the north of the island as they chase plankton.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Scotland without our famous Highland coos making an appearance.

Say cheese: Arran has been producing cheese for over 15 years REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Perhaps Arran’s biggest selling point is its homemade goods; from cheese and chocolate to haggis and whisky, the island is a prime manufacturer of all things tasty.

Famous for its single malt whisky, the Isle of Arran Distillers offers visitors the chance to tour the distillery, as well as enjoy some homemade goods at the cafe.

The produce on the island is very localised, with places like the Island Cheese Company using local dairy produce and island-grown ingredients. Visitors also have the opportunity to peek into the factory to see their favourite cheeses being made.


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