The Wild and Wondrous Arran

An early start for the ferry across to Arran and believe it or not, we were sitting on deck in glorious sunshine! We were first onboard, probably due to size and the furry one settled in for 50 mins of car alarms going off on the vehicle deck. Poor thing I hear you say! We had a short drive to our first camping stop at Lamlash so got set up and the bikes out. It’s been a while… I don’t know who coined the phrase “muscle memory” but it’s a lie, I discovered pretty quickly that my Victoria Pendleton thighs seem to have amnesia!

We headed off from Lamlash, after a quick lunch by the water, north following the road and hills through Brodick to eventually turn off onto a track towards Glen Rosa and the magnificent Goat Fell in the distance. The sounds of a cuckoo and the rippling water and occasional waterfalls (not bike falls this time!) were part of a majestic ride where the expansive colour mix of trees, bracken and wild flowers were sublime. 31km later, back at the van, we longed for the hot showers and even though we’d been a tad ambitious, we’d done it and it was so worth it!

Riding again the following day we headed inland with a long climb up through some of the managed forests, seeing the trees at all stages of life. Mostly Scots Pine. Another cuckoo kept us company. The decent was a relief, heading down to the coast, small birds bobbing along the top of the hedgerows with us. Back down at the main road we were close to the Lagg Distillery but a whisky wouldn’t have helped the ride home! Instead we had coffee and a bun at the Velo Cafe where we felt pretty out of place among the road cycling non electric snobs! We could still move after 40km so that evening we walked down to the beach where the water was mirror like and the skies continually changing over Holy Island. Absolutely beautiful!

Unusually for Scotland, the weather turned so we explored in the van, up to Lochranza Distillery for some “Arran Gold” for Helen and I. The route up the North East coastline was different to the more pretty South. The northern part of Arran is like the Northern part of Scotland, more rugged, steeper peaks and wilder. The rain brings the colours out in their glory, the rustic bracken, vivid greens shaping the remote landscape. The following day, Jigsaw took Nick for another walk on the beach briefly before we headed out ourselves. The storms had washed up an incredible array of seaweeds that looked like ribbons of multicoloured pasta. Lots of birds feeding on the shoreline, Gannets, Oystercatchers and several geese to name a few. Afterwards we rode out again to Whiting Bay and took an impromptu decision to explore The Giants Graves. Big mistake! We had been heading up a reasonably challenging path only to discover that the Giants had built their own steps too which were not rideable so we had to push the bikes up, e-bikes are heavy! Being honest, I’m not sure the Graves were worth it but the ride back down was a blast through the pine forests! 18km that felt like 100!

Our final day started with a 7km ride to get breakfast and it’s a good job we had such a hearty one at The Shore, looking out over the water and watching seals having theirs too. A 57km ride ahead, taking another route, we headed up and inland again finding a spot called Standing Stones, it was no Stonehenge that’s for sure but the views across to Pladda and Ailsa Craig were worth the climb. Heading back down the other side within the trees and waterfalls we ended up heading out towards Blackwaterfoot on the West side with a Velo pit stop en route. A quieter side of the island with long views over to Kintyre and coasting birds of prey on the high therms. More seals soaking up the sun on the rocks making some pretty gross sounds, we cycled along the beach front, the town is small and quiet, but for the golf course! Finding a well placed bench on the ride back, a Mars Bar for energy we sat and took it all in, know that we would be leaving soon. We’ve adored it on Arran and can fully appreciate the diversity of the landscape as much as the general feel of the place. There’s a community here that clearly cares about the environment and protecting it, there are numerous protected zones around the waters. The island isn’t overcrowded, partly because the infrastructure isn’t there and the boat capacity supports limiting too much intrusion to disrupt the ecological balance. Would be a super place to live, that’s for sure.

Jigsaw said there weren’t enough of her in this post, she’s posted some videos on Facebook and WhatsApp but didn’t want to miss out here 😸 She met her first bunny and stalked it for ages before running out of lead, thank goodness for the bunny!

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