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Island life

The island’s brochure was right.  You can’t do Arran in a day.  But if you are hard-pressed to see much of Scotland, there is Arran.  Arriving late in the evening, I had camped a mile or so from the slipway at Lochranza, on the north-west side of the island.  Iain owned the campsite, together with its generously hot showers.  Louise and Brian had recently taken on the running of the on-site ‘Pavilion’ cafe and shop.  They were very committed, having left behind the relative sophistication of Glasgow, bringing their two children with them to carve out a future in more idyllic surroundings.  They had a dream of better things and had done something about it.  You sensed that in just a short time they had begun to make the place their own.  I admired them.

Pavilion shop and cafe

Pavilion shop and cafe

In the morning I headed anti-clockwise around the coast from Lochranza.  A distinct Outer Hebridean feel – windswept, cottages huddling together in small settlements – soon gave way to warmer, more undulating countryside.  At Lagg, tucked away in a sheltered valley towards the southern tip of the island, I found palm trees.  This could have been the English Riviera, perhaps the Isles of Scilly.  The island of Ailsa Craig, south of Arran, was prominent.  The map indicated it had a castle, which struck me as odd, and unnecessary, for the place appeared to be a natural fortress.  The golf courses grew in number as I started north up the east coast.  The first notable village, Whiting Bay, had bungalows, an alarming number up for sale.  Brodick, and the ferry to the mainland, was soon close.  A viewpoint a mile or so short provided a final glimpse of Goat Fell and its fellow Cullin-like mountains in the north of the island.  I realised why the island is often referred to as ‘Scotland in minature’.

Village of Lagg, Southern Arran

Village of Lagg, Southern Arran

Island life has always fascinated me since I first visited Caldey, a little way off the Pembrokeshire coast, many years ago.  Caldey is known for three things – monks, chocolate, and perfume made from gorse.  An interesting mix; the chocolate I understand but quite what inspired the monks to experiment with perfume derived from gorse bushes has always elluded me.  Some while back I had the chance opportunity to visit a small, remote island community in the Southern Oceans at a time when visitors were relatively rare.  The island’s administrator had gone native, or at least he wore an ear ring.  Many aspects of life there seemed familiar – children running around in the primary school’s playground, the warm welcome in the white-washed cafe.  And yet you sensed subtly different social norms beneath the surface.  Not the case with Arran I might add.

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2 responses to “Island life”

  1. Bryan Lewis says:

    Hi Ken, it’s Bryan here from the Pavilion in Lochranza. Thank you for your kind words about myself and Louise. I hope you enjoyed your time here on the Isle of Arran and we wish you every success on your epic journey over the next 4 years. We’ll be sure to check your progress from time to time. People like yourself are an inspiration to others and if more people had the same guts and determination as youself, the world would be a better place.

    Good luck and best wishes for the future!

    Bryan & Louise

  2. admin says:

    Hi Bryan

    Great to hear from you – really enjoyed visiting Arran. There’s definitely something to be said for island life – very envious of you both. Think you’ve taken a bold but well considered step and put everything into it – impressed – so I’ll be back in about 4-5 years to try your evening menu!

    All the best

    Ken

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