Here are our favourite outdoorsy ways to explore the isle of Arran.
To celebrate our Keep Discovering summer competition with Calmac, where you could be in with the chance of winning £500 Tiso kit PLUS travel and accommodation, we're giving you our favourite Arran activity ideas. What? You haven't clocked our competition yet?! No fear, enter here! Good luck, and remember to share your adventures with us on social media using #mytiso.
For outdoor aficionados, it goes without saying that Goatfell will be on your to-do list. With its harsh ridges and iconic summit, at 874 metres it’s the highest point on the island. Now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, you’ll be able to see all the way to Ben Lomond and the Irish coast if you strike gold with the weather.
Goatfell holds a special place in the Tiso psyche, too. It was the first hill that our founder Maude ever climbed. She says, ‘The first holiday I had with some girlfriends, I decided we were going up Goatfell. I loved it as much as I hoped I would.’ Powering Maude’s passion for mountaineering, this challenging Corbett is well worth a walk. Just make sure you’re geared up for whatever the Scottish weather throws your way! Shop waterproofs here just in case.
When you’re constantly dealing with Scotland’s ever-changing weather, you get used to having a multitude of rainy day plans up your sleeve. Our favourites on Arran are two history-stuffed castles: Lochranza Castle to the north, and Brodick Castle to the east of the island.
Perched on a peninsula running towards Loch Ranza, the castle of the same name has been on this exact site from the 1200s. Later developed into the crumbling tower house you see today, the atmospheric ruins are managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
Just a 30 minute drive further round the east coast is Britain’s only island country park. Hidden in the grounds – surrounded by walled gardens, lush woodland and with the backdrop of Goatfell – is Brodick Castle. A red sandstone gem, this castle is a ‘quintessential Victorian estate’ and is crammed with period homeware and paintings. More information can be found on the National Trust for Scotland’s website.
There’s no better way to spend a dry, sunny day than grabbing your chalk bag, shoes, and searching for some rock. Along with everything else that makes Arran ‘Scotland in miniature’, the largest island in the First of Clyde also boasts some pretty awesome granite and sandstone climbs.
Among the best of these hard rock classics is the south face of the Cir Mhor, Goatfell’s neighbour and a quasi-pyramidal Corbett. UKClimbing users say that this area has a ‘selection of the finest routes at every grade’ (check the details out here). If you’re just starting out trad climbing, go with a friend who’s experienced and knows the code. Find out more about the different types of climbing on this blog post.
If you’re taking a well-deserved long holiday on Arran, a jaunt to Holy Isle may be a decent day trip idea. Sitting just off Lamlash village, this tiny but unique island of less than one square mile might light up your spiritual side.
Although best known for its sacred links in years gone by, nowadays Holy Isle is owned by a faction of the Tibetan Buddhists. There are settlements across the isle where retreats are held, whilst the island’s natural beauty serves as the perfect backdrop for an escape.
The rest of Holy Isle is treated like a nature reserve, with wild ponies, goats and sheep dotted across the land. You can also take your hiking boots (standard!) and tick off the short walk to the island’s ‘summit’, Mullach Mor, before taking in the views from the two ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ lighthouses. There’s a regular ferry service from Lamlash but, as it’s independently operated, make sure you check sailing times before you go.
Follow in the footsteps of kings… And then rewind even further to the Bronze Age! Arran’s west coast is home to the King’s Cave Trail which – as the name suggests – weaves down to the sandstone cliffs through thick forest to where Robert the Bruce allegedly sheltered sometime in the fourteenth century.
Make this Forestry Commission circuit longer by taking in the Machrie Moor Standing Stones on the opposite side of the A841. Arran’s most famous archaeological site boasts six individual stone circles, some of sandstone and others of granite boulders. The surrounding area – which itself was a prehistoric settlement – is further peppered with millstones, hut circles and forts. Taking in all the ancient gems on this piece of land will take you on a tour of about three miles in total.