The Isle Arran has been a favourite Scottish holiday destination of ours for more than a decade.
Our last visit to Arran was for our eldest’s 2nd birthday back in 2018 (blog) and ever since we had been eager to return, so we were hugely excited to make this visit. For anyone who has never been, the Isle of Arran is said to be Scotland in miniature and when travelling around the island you get to see why.
Below I have included a few suggestions and ideas for activities for families with younger kids, I hope you will find useful for a long weekend on the island. At the end of my blog you will find a few useful links which will help you plan your next family visit to Arran and if I can help make any personal recommendations, please leave a comment or reach out on twitter, details found below.
As with any good holiday we left the earliest we could, in this case picking our eldest up from school on a Friday and headed straight for the ferry in Ardrossan. I usually like to have a little longer at the terminal, but arrived with about 7 minutes to spare before the check-in closed…
We bought our tickets and checked-in online beforehand, so it was quick and easy to join the queue.
It felt so good to once again set foot on the Ferry and take the kids out on the open deck to take in the views towards Arran. A first for our youngest and feeling that fresh sea breeze was magical.
We were lucky to get a table at the window and went to get a round of snacks for the relatively short crossing which is just under an hour. For any trips with the kids we try and limit screen time wither with having pencils and paper or games, but do have a tablet which we occasionally use when they just want to chill out. As a parent some time we just need to do what we can to make it relaxing for the whole family and people around you! If you have suggestions and ideas from your adventures with young kids I’d love to learn more…
As we arrived in Brodick we headed straight for Lamlash and our hotel for the night, the Lamlash Bay Hotel. As you drive out of Brodick you will straight away see the landscape you can expect around the island. If its your first time I recommend a stop at a Viewpoint which is about 1 mile outside Lamlash, which gives you some of the best views towards Goatfell, the largest hill on the island. Below you will see the idyllic setting of the hotel, overlooking the impressive Holy Isle in Lamlash Bay.
This first evening happened to be my birthday and we celebrated this with a lovely dinner in their restaurant. A nice meal and the kids were mostly excited to know if there was a cake for dessert!
After a nice breakfast and a couple of coffees later, we checked out of the hotel and got ready for a wee wander by Clauchlands Point in Lamlash. We had only just started walking when we spotted a buzzard circling above us, clearly after it’s lunch. Then shortly after spotted a couple of seals chilling out on a rock in the sun and seemingly not bothered about us watching them from the shore.
We walked for about an hour and made it back to the car just as the rain arrived. Since our eldest was young I have been trying to carry them in our baby carrier for the kids to get a feeling of inclusion when we walk a little further as the view is better from up there and it of course means they too can go further. As with any experiences walking in Scotland, make sure you bring your waterproofs, even if the weather forecast tells you otherwise. Snacks are advised and always bring water or your preferred (non alcoholic) drink for walks. Also, depending on your walks, printed maps can be helpful or even guide maps of local walks.
For other interesting and alternative walking routes we have always found Walkinghighlands a great website for inspiration. Here you will find lots of details and maps to help you along the way.
We decided to drive to the south of the island for a change of scenery, literally and had hoped to have some snacks, although that never happened.
After a drive to Kildonan and failing to get any refreshments at the Kildonan Bar, we headed for the Coffee Pot in Whiting Bay for coffee and snacks. Such a lovely little café and I love its many local paintings and photographs they sell, it brings a great character to the place. After some delightful snacks and coffees we headed back towards Lamlash.
While our youngest needed a sleep, I took our eldest to the COAST Discovery centre in Lamlash, which is a reasonably new attraction for kids old and young. We returned a couple of days later, so you will find a little more details below. The parking is next to the beach beside the pitch and putt golf, but if you stay in Lamlash it’s only a short walk away.
By the time we were finished at the centre it was time to check into our cottage, which was literally around the corner from the Lamlash Bay Hotel where we spent our first evening and the cottage was overlooking the famous fishing cottages and the Holy Isle.
That evening it was time for board games and family time, while chilling out in our little cottage.
After a quick breakfast we headed to Bellevue Farm where we had been invited for a tour and Playbarn experience, which I was personally really excited about. Having personally grown up and worked on various farms since a young age (got paid for grass cutting at a few farms from about 10 years old) and spent many years playing with friends in and around this environment, I am really keen that my kids also get to enjoy this life, if only occasionally.
There has generally been a surge in the agricultural experiences or Agritourism as its also known across Scotland in recent years. It’s been amazing to see it evolving into such popular places to stay, visit and learn about where our food comes from, what goes into making the morning porridge, the full Scottish breakfast or even how we get to enjoy a glass of milk, along with all the other produce from our local farms.
We had two options for our drive from our Lamlash accommodation, either south via Kilmory or back up to Brodick and through the centre of the island on the B880, both a similar distance, we chose the latter.
As you drive out of Brodick and start the incline into the moorland and hills, you are greeted by some of the most spectacular scenery around the island. Look out for deer and birds of prey such as buzzards and eagles.
On arrival at Bellevue Farm we met Ailsa who runs the farm and has been doing farm tours for a few years, but only really focusing on Agritourism in the last couple of years.
Their farm is home to various livestock including about 40 cows. We got to meet Brownie the calf who was a twin, who’s mother had not been able to look after her, so Ailsa and her family had been bottle feeding her and getting her ready for the fields.
We got to meet some of the boys on the farm, their Beltex sheep. Beside them their Highland cow was eagerly waiting for a treat from Ailsa
You will also find a small Conservation area to help sustain the environment and it’s a great opportunity to educate visitors about the importance of our natural environment and the fact that sometimes nature is best left alone, otherwise known as Rewilding.
We visited the cattle and then went on to see the Alpacas, goats, donkeys, as well as the bunnies and guinea-pigs.
After seeing all the animals, it was onto the amazing playbarn with small tractors and other games, where you will also find their local farm shop, which only opened during lockdown 2020.
After the kids had a good play and we bought goat and chilli burgers and pork and apple sausages for dinner, it was time to say our goodbyes and head off for lunch. A big thanks to Ailsa for having us!
We drove 15 minutes north along the west coast to the Old Byre for lunch and for the kids to visit their fantastic play park. The location of the Old Byre, their shop and play park is ideal for visiting this part of the island and a great place to enjoy a coffee and snack outside while the kids play. During this visit we sadly didn’t get a chance to visit their shop, but fear not as you will also find their other shop in Brodick. We visited a couple of years ago and read about it here
After our visit to Old Byre we drove back across the island towards Brodick. We ended up spotting an eagle in the distance and I of course had to stop for a photograph!
As we reached Brodick, we took a left turn and headed north for Lochranza for some deer spotting.
Ever since we first visited Arran in 2011, while camping in Lochranza, we have always made a point of coming back there to meet these beautiful mammals
That evening we went to the Drift Inn, Lamlash, where we had been a couple of times previously, so we were excited to return. It was great to see it so busy and as before thoroughly enjoy our meal.
On Monday we had a lazy morning with nice local produce for breakfast and chilling out with the kids.
We walked along to the COAST centre in Lamlash. As you enter the centre you will hear calming tunes and see various videos and three different water tanks with fish, lobsters, crabs and other sea creatures. The centre is really engaging and educational for kids and adults alike. Grab one of the magnifying glasses and watch the crabs, lobsters and fish move around the tanks.
The story corner or drawing table will also give the kids the creative experience of the centre.
After about an hour at the COAST centre we headed back to the car and drove into Brodick in hope for some lunch. While our youngest had a sleep, I went for a walk along the promenade with our eldest looking for a place for lunch. On this day the ferry had been cancelled due to the winds, so it was busy with lots of people walking around Brodick in search of lunch or just a seat inside. After about 30 minutes of searching for an available eatery, we went back to Lamlash at Old Pier for lunch. A really good spot in the heart of the village and they serve up some amazing grub and some nice looking cakes.
With the weather a little unpredictable that afternoon, we decided to treat the kids to a visit to the Auchrannie Resort Playbarn and soft play. At the resort you will also find a good sized swimming pool and spa, along with various other outdoor activities. When at the playbarn you get an hour per session or if you’re lucky and it’s quieter, you may get longer. Make sure you the adults also try out the slides, watch out it’s fast! You will be able to purchase light snacks, coffees and soft drinks within the playbarn.
For an wet weather activity, the Auchrannie Resort Softplay Barn is ideal!
It was Tuesday and our last morning on Arran. It was a lovely morning and before breakfast I took the kids to visit the Lamlash Pier to watch the sunrise behind the Holy Isle.
We took our time over breakfast and checked out from our cottage around 11am. We left Lamlash and made our way towards Brodick where we were catching the ferry later in the afternoon.
On this last day we decided to treat the kids to a visit to the Brodick Castle playground, a place we had not yet visited during any of our visits to Arran. On this occasion we didn’t visit the castle itself, just the garden and kids playground.
We live near the Newhailes House and Estate in Musselburgh, which also has a great playground, so the kids were excited to try this out.
They were on for a treat, flying fox for small and big kids, wood walkways and tree houses, such an amazing place. You will also find a covered seating area if you bring your own lunch or snack, which is useful as a parent. If you bring your four legged friends, there is also an area where you can sit with them within a fence, but still keep an eye on the kids.
Besides that you will also find a good size fairy trail and some lovely walks around the garden. When you pay your entrance fee at the café.
Remember to ask for a map and indeed ask what the current treasure trail is like and if there are any games.
After a couple of hours at Brodick Castle we headed for Brodick to catch up with a friend at Little Rock Café before catching the ferry back to the mainland and heading home to Edinburgh.
For some more tips and ideas, make sure you check out a few of these blogs below
Places to visit in Ayrshire and Arran by Susanne at Adventures Around Scotland
Things to do on Arran by Kay at The Chaotic Scot
Weekend activities in Arran by Neil Travels with a Kilt
All opinions and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated. When you next visit share your stories and photos with @visitarran – You can also follow me along on our adventures around Scotland and beyond on kimkjaerside on Twitter and Instagram
All about Arran – Visit Arran
Travel to Arran
To learn more about what Agritourism accommodation and activities available across Scotland, you should check out https://scottishagritourism.co.uk/about/