It was good to revisit Arran recently and remind ourselves why it's often described as 'Scotland in miniature'.
After you've seen red squirrels, seals, otters, a golden eagle and red deer, in the same day as you visit ruined castles, unspoilt beaches, crafters & producers of fine food & drink, you too will appreciate the tagline.
If I'd been more energetic, I'd have included climbing a mountain in the list but dear fellow campers, I'll leave the 874 metres of Goatfell for you to climb! Goatfell is a Corbett (a mountain over 2500 ft), so not as high as a Munro, which is a mountain in Scotland over 3000 ft and famous for being 'collected' as achievements by 'Munro Baggers'. It is the highest point on the Island of Arran and more of a challenge than I was looking for on a short but relaxing roadtrip.
We camped at our favourite site on the Island, Seal Shore and were lucky enough to get pitch number 3, with uninterrupted views across to the lighthouse on Pladda Island and uninhabited Ailsa Craig. Which is a distinctive peak shaped island beyond Pladda, formed from a volcanic plug and surprisingly the source of granite for most of the world's curling stones.
If you can't spot otters or seals from the campsite then usually a short walk along the coast will reward you.
What to See & Do On Arran
If you love wildlife, do not miss the Red Squirrel Hide in the grounds of Brodick Castle. Red squirrel are our native species, who have become endangered by a disease the grey squirrels carried from North America, when the Victorians brought the greys over here.
Arran is now unique as Scotland's only island graced with just red squirrel and you can watch their acrobatics at close hand, in this wildlife observatory.
The Castle was the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton and is well worth a visit for it's artefacts and history. The grounds include an adventure park, to keep all the family happy.
Lochranza Castle is more of a ruin but the village is charming, especially when you spot the red deer roaming freely around in gardens and on the golf course.
Foodies can vist Arran Distillery, Brewery, Cheese Shop (don't miss their Brie made with cream) and butchers, which is also a great place to buy fresh fish.
Other noteworthy sites include Machrie Moor Standing Stones, a neolithic stone circle, which doesn't compare to the magnificence of Callanish (on Lewis) or Brodgar (on Orkney) but is worthy of a visit nonetheless. Also King's Cave, a sea cave where Robert The Bruce reportedly camped out.
As is common in Scotland's wild and beautiful, remote places, crafters and artists have made the island their home and some exhibit their wares from where they live as well. We revisited our favourite, The Arran Candle Company, near Lamlash.
Our weather wasn't great but as we were on electric hook-up at Seal Shore, we could be as warm and toasty as we liked. It was only after we returned to the Ferry Terminal at Brodick that we realised that all ferries had been cancelled the day before, we'd really been oblivious to the weather being bad enough to warrant that. The Kildonan Hotel is right next to the campsite, so had we felt necessary we could have sheltered in there, as well as in the day room provided at the campsite. Our campervan was so warm and comfortable, we didn't need to bother with either.
If you would like to visit Arran in a Vintage VW Camper, then please book here.