5.15am and the alarm goes off ! Normally this could be mistaken for a work alarm, but not today as we’re off to the Isle of Arran. Awesome.
Out of bed we jump and the first thing to be done was to look out of the window to check the weather. All looked good, it wasn’t raining, nor blowing a gale and to be honest we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Pod had been loaded the night before, so once breakfast was eaten we pulled her out and tyre pressures were checked. An all important task easily and quickly completed.
By 6.30 we were on the road and starting our 4hr journey up the M6. Clear roads so no issues and we stopped once at Gretna to use the facilities. Once off the Motorway we veered left to Ardrossan, the roads took a little to be desired, pot hole hell sprung to mind.
At 11.30 we rolled into the Ardrossan Port and were soon followed by three other ‘vans, two of which were Royale T125s, built in 1969. Immaculate condition after being lovingly restored.
12 o’clock arrived and we all rolled onto the CalMac Ferry and began our journey across The Firth of Clyde. Once we’d eaten our packed lunch loving prepared by one of us we ventured outside to the front of the ship to find the pleasant light wind had turned into a very powerful beast. From here neither of us could move with any great agility, if we moved too fast we were in danger of sliding into the railing and who knows what there after. Needless to say we gingerly edged our way along the railings with a very tight grip.
Cloud was now shrouding Arran and we could see nothing of Goatfell or the islands extending coastline, we received the call over the tanoy to return to our cars and this we did with some eagerness as we couldn’t wait to settle in at the site.
Once on the road we noticed the legendary pot holes dotted along the winding narrow road and with some careful manoeuvring we eventually arrived on the south side of the island, Sealshore Camping and Caravan site and it looked like we were one of the first to arrive.
No rain but the wind was still strong, the sea was beating itself all the way along and up the shore line, the lighthouse out to sea looked stark against the dark sky and the smell of the sea brought in off the cresting waves was incredible, we could just feel the worries of the world drop off our shoulders, fantastic.
Pod and the awning were soon up and running. We even put the thermal wrap round the pop top roof as we knew the temperature could drop over night, especially on the coast.
The sea eventually made its way out and we went for a mooch along the beach, eyes peeled for otters and seals, but didn’t spot a thing on this occasion.
So back to Pod we went, with a beer in hand we settled in to the recliners as the sun slowly disappeared behind the Arran coastline. What a great way to start our few days away.
Woke to a dry day, a little overcast but rain wasn’t on the agenda. As we pushed Pods door wide we were met with a fabulous view of the beach and the salty seaweed smell of the sea.
A drive of the coastal route was decided upon and we went clockwise. Looking at a map it almost looks like two separate parts, the lower half more green, lush and arable, the top half more rugged and mountainous. We didn’t really get to see much of it though, as a very low cloud had descended upon us and anything more than 100m in front of us was obscured by it.
First stop for us today was the Whisky Distillery, way up on the north side of the island, sounds along way doesn’t it, but no, less than an hour away. Easy enough to find as there aren’t too many roads to choose from, plus we soon discovered there were no round-abouts and except those being used by the roadworks, there weren’t any traffic lights either.
We found plenty of parking and once in through the door we paid £8.00 ea for the tour. First off, we sat and watched a short film about the history of the distillery and then we were whisked off through a door and were shown the lengthy process of whisky making, not forgetting the wee share for the Angels.
By the end of the tour we had partaken of 3 fabulously different whiskies and as one of us was driving the other had more than a fare share. On leaving the tour we walked through the well stocked shop, there was a fabulous collection of local produce on sale, ranging from delicious cheeses to brilliant artwork. Could easily have spent a fortune and needless to say a bottle of whisky had to be bought, a peaty one was chosen, the Machrie Moor.
Once outside we discovered the sky had cleared a little and we continued our tour round the island.
Something else we discovered whilst doing this too, no well known branded fast food outlets, not a McDonald or Pizzahut to be seen anywhere. A small selection of cafes and restaurants but that was your lot. The only food store on the island was Co-Op, not a Tesco or Sainsbury’s to be seen either, very refreshing we thought.
Back at Pod dinner was eaten and the evening was spent mesmerised by the view in front of us, wide open sea with a lighthouse in the distance, bliss.
Next day was slightly hard to read, we hoped for blue skies at some point but pinpointing it was proving difficult, so the decision was made to walk Goatfell, if we didn’t see anything from the top we’d be disappointed yes, but were desperate to do it either way, plus it gave us a reason for a return visit.
Goatfell is the highest point on the island and stands at 874 metres, it promised some spectacular views so as we set off from the carpark we had our fingers crossed that we would walk through a thin layer of cloud to see its spectacular summit in the distance.
Onward we went, through the dense tall forest and the wide open moorland before reaching the rocky path that lead upwards, but the thin layer of cloud didn’t appear and then disappear, no, it got thicker. Still, we continued with map in hand, but the path was very well laid so there wasn’t a real chance of loosing our way. Gradient increased and the cloud along with it, it was a great pity but still an enjoyable walk.
Within 50 metre of the top we came across a large area of snow, slowly melting but doing its’ best to hang on in there, once past it we came across more and a group of people who’s path was blocked by a wide spans of it. The snow wasn’t compact and the path had totally disappeared, as none of us knew what lay beneath the decision was made to turn back, gutted was an understatement, we knew we were less than 20 metres from the summit.
The small group began their track down and we decided to eat lunch before doing the same.
More people arrived, some turned and went back and the odd one went past and upwards, these we soon discovered were locals and had trod this route many times. With great observation on our part and words of encouragement on theirs we found a second route up and the much wanted summit.
Yes, no views were to be had but we were so pleased we’d continued, that said, if we hadn’t befallen the locals we would have turned back, Goatfell wasn’t going anywhere and no summit was worth the risk of injury.
The long trek down began and a short journey back to Pod was had, needless to say, by the time we reached the site the sun was out, we were treated to a clear blue sky and more spectacular scenery.
Following morning was glorious, beautiful coastline lay all around us and the sea was out, giving us the chance to walk out onto the rocks in the hope of spotting the local otters and seals. The lighthouse on Pladda looked within walking distance and the mysterious island of Alisa Craig could be seen way in the background.
A day pottering around the site was decided upon and low and behold, with patience, we were treated to the sight of 2 Otters playing on the rocks and swimming between boulders. Incredible to see and an ever better sight was to be had when they swam from one outreach to the other which just happened to be on either side of Pod.
The day soon flashed by and before turning in we went for a stroll along the beach, a perfect end to a great day too as we were treated to the site of a Common Seal basking in the evening sun.
The coastline on Arran is breathtaking there is no doubting that at all, an incredible place, still hanging onto values from a bygone era and for this we loved it even more.
So during this walk we decided to do our own version of a beach clean and were shocked to discovered the amount of plastic debris washed up on its beautiful beaches. Within the space of 1 metre square we had no trouble in picking up 4 blue cotton bud sticks. With this find we continued, as our eyes became accustomed to the search we found ourselves falling over many others, not just bud sticks. Broke our hearts a little and if nothing else made us more determined to rid our lives of single use plastic.
End of the day arrived and once back at Pod a wee dram of something very special finished the day off perfectly.
Our final day arrived and we were yet again blessed with a wonderful blue sky, we wanted to see more of island so a drive was decided upon. A short journey from the site brought us to the coastal path which travels all the way round the island, that wasn’t planned today, we just wanted to see more seals, so camera in hand off we went on foot.
Didn’t take long to find them and to be honest they were a little hard to miss, at least 50 of them scattered amongst the outcrops along the water line, all sprawled out enjoying the afternoon sun, brilliant. Time was moving on so we turned and once back at the car we continued our tour.
This drive was much nicer than our first day, no clouds or sea mists to obscure the coastline with swans in huge numbers gliding by along the shore line, nor its panoramic views across the wide open hedge lined fields
Lochranza was our next stop, pretty little village with the remains of a Castle still standing proud at the bays entrance.
We eventually found ourselves on the east side of the island and at the Lighthouse Restaurant, here we were treated to some fabulous food, good value too, with great sized portions. Venison was had by one of us and a mushroom and leek parcel the other, the desserts were incredible too, worth every penny.
Time soon came to head back to Pod and a slow journey back was had, the weather report was checked and it seemed that the weather was taking a turn for the worse tomorrow, so the awning came down and was neatly packed away, nice and dry.
Our last evening had arrived and with a blue sky slowly changing to a warm glowing sunset we decided to treat ourselves to supper on the beach, old romantics eh..
Little gas stove came with us, along with pieces of cod, prawns and a variety of BBQ vegetables, we even had a little fire going as we finished our last bottles of beer and sat cuddled together listening to the sea gently rolling in against the empty beach.
7am alarm woke us and discovered rain had indeed visited us, so much so, it continued all the way through breakfast, packing up and leaving the site. We were so pleased we’d packed the awning away the previous night, just one less job to do once home.
We arrived at Brodick Ferry in plenty of time and joined the queue of those returning to the mainland. Once on board it didn’t seem long before we were off the other end and on our way home.
5 fabulous nights had been had on Arran and you can bet your bottom dollar (ode to our many American readers) we will be back, who knows, retirement isn’t that long away and we can’t think of a better place to retire to… or set up our own Caravan Site.