Sunset at Blackwaterfoot, Arran

Sunset at Blackwaterfoot, Arran

We had driven down the Mull of Kintyre to our next ferry crossing -from Claonaig to Lochranza on the Isle of Arran- famed for being ‘all of Scotland in miniature’.

Whilst waiting on the quayside a group of motorcyclists drew up; a rather unusual group too. Astride their ageing 50cc mopeds (the men were also veteran) this happy band come together every year from around Scotland and northern England to share their love of machines and wend their way, gently, around Britain’s roads. This year’s ‘Tiddlers’ Tootle’ was around much of Scotland and it was great talking to them about their trip and their interests.

Our journey was again smooth and having landed at Lochranza we made our way along (slightly wider than Mull’s) roads to our stop for the next three nights- a hotel in Blackwaterfoot in the south west of the island. I won’t bore you with the details of this; suffice to say it was a comfortable (after we managed to get an over heating towel rail switched off) and lovely setting overlooking the firth of Clyde towards Campbeltown on Kintyre.

We had three major outings whilst here and I’ll post about one of these- Brodick Castle – separately, as it had an interesting garden worthy of extended coverage.

The impressive cliffs on our 'Cave Walk'

The impresive cliffs on our ‘Cave Walk’

Our other two trips out commenced with a walk along the impressive coastline near to the hotel where we passed some fun mini cairns on the beach, I guess made by fellow walkers; we couldn’t resist piling up some stones of our own and trying to see how precarious a balancing act we could create…

Our main objective, however, was to get to the caves a bit further north and in particular the ‘King’s Cave’- where legend has it that Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce sat in contemplation before fighting (and defeating) the English at Bannockburn in 1314- yes the cave where he watched a spider repeatedly tumbling to the floor, only to keep getting up and trying to forma web. the story that supposedly inspired the King to ‘try again’ and eventually win out over his enemy. I think this is in fact a rather more modern myth created to boost tourism about a century ago, but never mind, it makes for a good walk and an amusing tale!

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The final trip out involved a walk from around Lamlash Bay through woods and along cliff tops to an area called Clauchlands where once an Iron Age fort stood overlooking the bay. This has impressive views of the ferry route from Brodick to Ardrossan and Holy Isle (yes another one). In fact we watched the ferries crossing that morning only to discover the following day that it was the ferry we had been booked on (in error)! Fortunately we arrived at Brodick ferry port early enough to grab a spare place on the ferry we thought we had booked! Apart from its beauty, Lamlash Bay is interesting as Scotland’s first ‘no take’ zone- where any fishing is banned in order to help replenish marine life. As the very interesting ‘COAST’ website says:

‘The Scottish NTZ is approximately a one square mile area at the north end of Lamlash Bay on the isle of Arran set up to protect Maerl beds and to promote natural regeneration of all marine life.  Following 13 years of campaigning by COAST, it was designated by the Scottish Government on 20 September 2008.  

In 2013, COAST and the community of Arran and the Clyde celebrated five years of the NTZ being in place.  Surveys taken show that after five years, the seabed is now 40 per cent more complex and healthier than the area outside the NTZ.  There are higher densities of scallops, crabs and lobsters, both older and larger, being recorded and increased numbers of juvenile cod and haddock…’

Arran is certainly beautiful. It is less remote than Mull, and we saw several day or weekend coach groups (probably from Glasgow) taking in the scenery. The roads tend to be wider too and it’s better accessibility may result in a greater level of second or holiday homes and perhaps less sense of settled community, but I may be wrong.

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