Being from the western coast of Denmark, with its 300 miles of golden beaches and inland fjords, I’m brought up being in, on or around the water from a young age. I therefore love nothing better than feeling the fresh sea air hitting my face, from land or standing on a boat hearing the waves rolling and splashing along the side of the vessel.
It was therefore with excitement on our latest trip to the Isle of Arran, as we approached Ardrossan on the mainland and seeing the white froth on the waves, I knew I was about to enjoy another wonderful journey at sea. I of course hope our daughter too will appreciate this way of life as she grows up exploring our great country.
Visit Arran and you can be guaranteed true Scottish hospitality and delicious local produce served from the moment you step onto the Caledonian Macbrayne Ferries. We arrived at Ardrossan with plenty of time before boarding, I always like to see the ferry arrive into the harbour, something special about it. This was my daughters second time on the Arran Calmac Ferry and now two years old, a lot more excited about the journey.
We drove aboard, took a seat in the restaurant and swiftly got served by the food counter. We had the Cullen Skink pie, really tasty and fresh, our daughter had the Mull of Kintyre Cheddar Cheese macaroni which was soon after finished. I then headed out on deck camera in my hand, to take in the view and enjoy some of that fresh sea air as we approached Brodick. With it being a bit breeze and choppy, my wife and daughter decided to enjoy the views from the observatory deck in the warmth and on the comfortable seating
The island makes for a perfect family retreat away from the daily routine and our busy lives in Edinburgh. Visiting the Isle of Arran for our daughters birthday weekend seemed the obvious choice and as ever it didn’t disappoint. There’s lots of activities for children of all ages around the island, even for the grown up ones with the Arran Distillery, Arran Brewery, Arran Aromatic and The Old Byre for some tastings and retail therapy! For the rest make sure to check out http://www.visitarran.com/
We have over the years stayed in various locations around the Island, till this day, Lamlash, which is a short 5 minute drive south of Brodick, still wins our hearts. We had chosen a fairly new build, Seaview Cottage Its location by the waterfront and with an open fire made it ideal for our family retreat. Well-appointed with two bathrooms and beautifully designed with good quality fittings throughout our accommodation boasted uninterrupted views over the Holy Isle – we even seen the occasional red squirrel hopping by or seals resting on the shores
One of our highlights during the weekend was at The Old Byre Visitor Centre by Machrie on the west coast of the island. The old original shop has been there for about 50 years, selling high quality and beautiful Scottish clothing Since the daughter took over the business, they now also serve great foods cooked by Lorna and her husband, (you should taste the Pides, their speciality). Outside you will find Archie and Gregor’s playground (their sons’), with some of the best views towards the Mull of Kintyre. My daughter could have played on for many more hours in their sandpit, on the swings or driving the wee tractors.
In searching for things to do with kids on Arran, just south of Machrie, you’ll find the Machrie Moor Standing Stones and if you’re up for a longer stroll, the Kings Caves walk takes in the beautiful west coast of the island. In this region we have also spotted eagles several times, so bring binoculars and look up! Heading further south you could make a stop at the Kildonan Hotel and see the otters and seals basking on the shores right outside the hotel’s new restaurant and bar. Alternatively, should you fancy some deer spotting, Lochranza at the top of the Island is the perfect spot!
Our evening meal was back in Lamlash at the Drift Inn which is a family pub run by Euan and his wife Amy. They pride themselves, like many establishments on the island, on serving the best of local Arran and Scottish produce. I experienced my first ever taste of whole Partridge and my wife enjoyed a lovely Anglers Platter of fresh seafood. A great selection of Scottish Beers and Whisky’s too.
Our second day was spent around Brodick, the biggest village on the island and included a stroll along the promenade where my daughter was trying out her new balance bike.
After a bit of retail therapy at the Old Byre and browsing the quaint little shops, lunch was at the Douglas Hotel. We spent the afternoon in the Auchrannie Playbarn, perfect for both babies and toddlers and the number one venue when considering things to do with kids on Arran. There are other onsite activities, like swimming, Segway, bike hire and much more, check out Arran Adventure. On the island you’ll find a number of ideal activities for families, including the Heritage Museum and Brodick Castle Grounds and Adventure Playground (open summer season). Wherever we visited, the attraction always catered for young children, from restaurants to activities centres, which was refreshing to find.
Then there is also the outdoors aspect which I love and cannot wait to introduce my daughter to when older. We already do a fair amount of walking with her, but on Arran you’ll find so much more to do and the island is so accessible from the mainland.
Before saying goodbye for now we made it back to the Little Rock Café, one of the best coffees on the Island, brilliant lunch and a perfect setting too! Till next time…