If you are a JSA, a JYA or maybe just one of the many foreign students who study in St Andrews you may feel like you will never get the time to visit all the places you would like to see in Scotland. Thankfully there is a solution in the form The Island of Arran, otherwise known as “Scotland in miniature.” Located in the Firth of Clyde, the Island earns its name due to its diverse range of scenery spawned from its division by the highland boundary fault into highland and lowland. Despite being just 19 miles long and 10 miles wide Arran packs a wide range of things to do and see into its small area, making it a Scottish tourist favourite and a great place to visit.
Arran is definitely the place for those of you who enjoy the great outdoors. The island is characterised by the presence of its many walking routes, ranging from the coastal route, which you can follow right around the island, to upland walks in the hills. Such trails are a wonderful way to take in the picturesque scenery of Arran, including the Glenashdale falls located in Whiting Bay or some of the Islands many Lochs. If you are interested in more of a challenge Goat Fell, Arran’s highest peak at 2,866 feet, makes for an enjoyable climb with various different routes all culminating in a stunning view across the island. As an alternative to walking, cycling trails are also found in abundance with the viable option of cycling the whole Island in one day. Further activity options include sea kayaking and pony trekking.
If, however, you prefer a more laid back approach to your holidays, you may wish to take advantage of some of Arrans local villages, Brodick being the largest of these. Famous for its chocolate and cheese shops as well as the Arran Aromatics factory, Brodick is ideal for a bit of souvenir shopping. It is also the home to one of the island’s many historic attractions, like Brodick Castle, renowned for its image on the back of Royal bank of Scotland £20 banknotes. The historians among you may take interest in visiting the castle along with the island’s various cairns, standing stones and ruins.
For a different experience, many visitors also like to travel to The Holy Isle, a small island located in the bay of Arrans Lamlash village. Now owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist community, the island has a great spiritual history dating back to the 6th century. Features of the island include the Centre for World Peace and Health, an ancient healing spring and a closed monk population. Famous for its wildlife, the island is also home to Saanen goats, which are believed to have lived there for many centuries, as well as wild Eriskay ponies and grey seals.
The beauty of Scotland is waiting on your doorstep, and with this much to see and do there is no reason not to get moving! Travelling to Arran is relatively simple and cheap with regular ferries running from Ardrossan to Brodick taking just under an hour. Ardrossan ferry port itself is linked up with Glasgow Central train station, which makes planning your journey very straightforward. Arran is just one of the many beautiful places Scotland has to offer, so get out your camera and backpack and start exploring.