Isle of Arran

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For other places with the same name, see Aran (disambiguation).

The Isle of Arran is situated in south-western Scotland, in the Firth of Clyde near Glasgow. Measuring approximately 167 square miles (433 km2) in area, it has a population of approximately 5,000. Arran is the seventh largest island in Scotland, but is not technically one of the Hebrides, being the southernmost of the Scottish islands. Widely referred to as 'Scotland in Miniature', Arran offers visitors a compact and easily accessible island that mimics the geology of mainland Scotland, with a sparsely populated and mountainous northern half and a flatter, more populous southern half. Located close to Glasgow and Scotland's Ayrshire coast, Arran is a popular and easily accessible tourist destination.


Other destinations

Holy Island (known locally as the Holy Isle)

The sole inhabitants of Holy Island are Buddhist monks, who moved in after Vision of Virgin Mary persuaded previous owner to sell it to them. During summer tourist season, a boat takes visitors roughly every hour from 10AM to 5PM, though the monastery itself is not accessible to the public as it is used as a place of retreat (Monks stay there for 3 years and 3 months). The walk up the backbone of the island offers beautiful views of Lamlash and the Scottish mainland.

The Ross Road

Runs from Lamlash to Lagg (Kilmory). This road offers fantastic scenery. It has a decent surface and is suitable for cars or bikes (though it is pretty steep so make sure you have plenty of gears!). As the road is mostly single-track, it is not really suitable for larger motorhomes. There's no public transport along the Ross Road, though you should be able to hitch passing cars fairly easily. Use discretion in the winter as the road can become impassable due to snow and ice.


The Isle of Arran is often described as 'Scotland in Miniature', offering the scenery of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands on one Island, in the North and South respectively.

The northern part of the island is a National Scenic Area, it's easy to understand why!

Note that if the ferry is not running, the shops will not get any newspapers until the ferry starts running again. And don't ask anyone before 9AM "Have you got any papers?"

Get in

By boat

The only practical way to reach Arran is using one of the two Ferries operated by Caledonian McBrayne. The ferries run between:

Ardrossan(mainland) - Brodick(Arran)

Name: MV Caledonian Isles and MV Saturn
Facilities on Board: MV Caledonian Isles, toilets, children's play area, observation lounge, tourist information desk, disabled access, Bar, Coffee Bar, Restaurant. MV Saturn, toilets, cafeteria/bar
Vehicle capacity: MV Caledonian Isles 120 cars; MV Saturn about 40 to 50 cars (other vehicles can be accommodated) N.B. It is prudent to book in advance
Passenger capacity: MV Caledonian Isles 1000; MV Saturn 381
Duration of Trip: MV Caledonian Isles 55 minutes; MV Saturn up to 75 minutes
Runs all year: MV Caledonian Isles Yes; MV Saturn summer only
Train link mainland: MV Caledonian Isles Yes; MV Saturn No, all services run to Glasgow Central. Note that the ferry waits for the train, but the train does not wait for the ferry if it is running late
Cost (foot passengers): You can buy a 5 day saver return for around £8, with single fares being roughly £5

The Saturn has finished for the year, and may be replaced with a larger ferry in Summer 2011.

Claonaig(mainland) - Lochranza(Arran)

Name: MV Loch Tarbert
Facilities on Board: toilets, small passenger lounge
Vehicle capacity: 18 cars (other vehicles can be accommodated)
Passenger capacity: 150
Duration of Trip: 30 minutes
Runs all year: see below
Trainlink mainland: No
Prices are lower than on the Ardrossan - Brodick ferry, but it is not worth it if you are coming up from the south.

Be warned services can be cancelled or diverted due to bad weather and reduced services run on Sundays and off season. Between the end of March and the end October, there is an extra Friday evening ferry between Ardrossan and Brodick which does not run for the rest of the week.

Between the end of October and the end of March, a ferry runs once a day between Lochranza and Tarbert. Passengers and cars MUST book in advance for this ferry. Pick up a timetable or go to the Calmac website for further details.

The paddle steamer Waverley [1] also calls at the island 3 times per week from June to September. Services run from Ayr, Largs, Glasgow and other places, check the website for further details

In addition to the above ferries, Arran Power and Sail[2] run two services using RIB powerboats;

They also operate all the way to Ardrossan on request; see the website for further details.

By plane

The nearest airports to Arran are Glasgow Prestwick[3] and Glasgow International[4] on the mainland. Prestwick is situated 32 miles to the south of Glasgow, International is 15 miles west of the city. From Prestwick you can travel by train to Kilwinning (en route to Glasgow Central) and change for Ardrossan Harbour and ferries to Brodick. Alternatively bus 585 (operated by Stagecoach Western) travels directly from the airport to Ardrossan Princes Street, a short walk from the ferry terminal. Taxis from Prestwick Airport to Ardrossan Harbour are also available for about £15. From Glasgow International a bus operates to Paisley Gilmour Street railway station, for rail connections to Ardrossan Harbour.

By bus

To Ardrossan;

All buses are operated by Stagecoach Western.

To Claonaig;

Tarbert and Tarbet

On the 926 bus service from Glasgow to Campbeltown, there are two stops called Tarbert and Tarbet, which is next to Loch Lomond. If you don't make it clear to the driver of the bus, you could be 50 miles away from your destination before you know it!

By train

From Glasgow

Trains [7] run direct from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan Harbour several times a day. Departures to and from Glasgow are timed to connect with CalMac [8] ferries to Brodick. Some trains to Ardrossan Harbour connect with ferries, and both the train and ferry can be delayed if the other is late running. Combined train/ferry tickets to Glasgow can also be bought at the ferry terminal in Brodick, and combined tickets to Brodick can be bought from any railway station, sometimes saving on the equivalent combined cost of train and ferry tickets. Note that the 1650 train from Glasgow splits at Ardrossan South Beach, so you will have to be in the front 3 cars of the train: pay close attention to departure screens before boarding the train.

From Ayr and Prestwick Airport

Trains run frequently from Ayr and Prestwick Airport to Kilwinning, where you can get on another train to Ardrossan. A few trains per day also come from Stranraer (for Northern Ireland).

By car

There is no bridge link to Arran and you must take the ferry, however both CalMac ferries carry cars (as well as vans, trucks, buses, bikes...), and the paddle steamer Waverley can also carry bicycles. Note there is an extensive long term car park at Ardrossan Harbour, and there is also a small car park in Claonaig. Also note that there is no LPG on the island either.

Get around

By car

There are three main roads on the island: the main road that runs around the coast (the A841), the 'String Road' that runs from Brodick to Blackwaterfoot (the B880) and the Ross Road that runs from Lamlash to a point between Kilmory/Lagg and Sliddery). This is mainly a narrow single track road with passing places and not on a standard to allow larger Motorhomes on it. Maps are widely available all over the island if you have not got your own.

By bus

You don't need a car or bike to explore Arran, with an extensive and reliable bus service covering most of the island. Services are operated by Stagecoach Western [9], although because of the local authority area, it's not unusual to see bus stops and timetables carrying the logo of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) [10] who oversee public transport on Arran. A single day 'Rover' ticket costs £4.60, although beware that fares and timetables change with the seasons.

A full timetable can be found online.[11] and printed timetables are available on all buses, on board the ferries, at the ferry terminals and from most of convenience stores. Key services include:

Most buses connect in Brodick with the CalMac[12] ferry to Ardrossan. Check timetable notes carefully, as some late evening buses only run on Fridays during the summer. Few buses run after 9PM.

Note that many of the 323 services on Mondays to Saturdays and some on Sundays terminate at Whiting Bay. Check the timetable for details.

Be warned - a few bus services may start/terminate in a different place than the timetable. For example, the 0747 324 Imachar-Lamlash bus may start in Pirnmill, and the 1705 324 Lamlash-Blackwaterfoot bus regulary terminates in Pirnmill. This is due to the fact that at least 2 bus drivers live in Pirnmill.

Generally, bikes cannot be carried on the buses, but in the off-peak season a friendly driver may let you take your bike on board, but don't count on it.

The Castle Bus only runs Sunday-Thursday during the summer holidays, and then weekends until the end of October. The Castle is also served by the 324 bus - albeit it does not run into the grounds of the castle itself. Timetables are available locally and on board the Caledonian Isles.

There are also Island Tours that run Mon-Fri only from June to August. They connect with the 09:30 ferry from Ardrossan, and a full day tour connects with the 16:40 ferry back. You can also get a half day tour that gets back to Brodick for the 13:50 ferry back, but you do not get to see the North Island. Timetables are available on the Caledonian Isles and from Brodick Ferry Terminal.

By motorcycle

Arran is an adrenaline junkie's paradise when it comes to motorcycles! The roads are narrow, heavilly potholed (so much that Arran is the 'pothole capital' of the UK!) and often you come across 40 ton logging trucks! And after all that, the rewards are magnificant, with breathtaking views during the sunshine! As an added bonus, a motorcycle can be brought over to Arran for half the cost of a car! Even though the roads are "goin' tae pot", it's still a very big adventure for even the seasoned motorcyclist!

By bicycle

Hiring a bike is recommended to travel some routes, such as the Ross, that the bus doesn't take. In Brodick, bike hire is available from the Boathouse and Arran Power and Sail on the shore and Arran Adventures next to the Auchrannie. In Blackwaterfoot you can hire a bike from the Kinloch Sports Club. Cycling over the Machrie Moor Road from the String Road to Machrie on a calm, sunny day is not to be missed...

By taxi

Taxi services cover the entire island and you may find that booking ahead is a good idea as they get very busy in peak season. If you are travelling alone it is best to ask for a quote when booking, as prices can be very steep depending on where you want to go - it is actually cheaper to rent a car than get a return taxi fare from Brodick to Lochranza.

Brodick to Clauchlands Point £6 single








There are many good eateries on the island. From the 5 Star Kilmichael Country House Hotel, the Auchrannie (both in Brodick), the Trafalgar Restaurant (Whiting Bay), the Kildonan Hotel (Kildonan), the Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot to the Restaurant at the Distillery in Lochranza.


At least one Pub is in most Villages, some have two or more.

The Catacol Bay Hotel has one of the best range of drinks on the island. Nothing too expensive, but it has one of the best atmospheres around

Cruize Bar [25] at the Auchrannie Spa Resort offers a good range of drinks (also serves good food), open 7 days, comfortable surroundings and occasional party nights.

Another at the Ormidale Hotel, Brodick. It has a nice atmosphere (upper part is in former glasshouse), pub quizzes and the most insanley tiled toilet block in the world.

There is also a pub with real ale at the Blackwaterfoot Lodge.

Food and Groceries

Arts and Crafts



Camping, Hostels, Bunkhouses


Self Catering



Post Office

There are Post Offices in Brodick, Whiting Bay, Kildonan, Pirnmill and Blackwaterfoot. The village halls in Lochranza and Kilmory also offer a limited Post Office service on certain days.

Get out

In summer, take the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig and walk or cycle the 2.5 miles along the coast to Skipness, see the travel guide for more information.

Holy Island is also a good day out, see the Holy Island travel guide for further details.

Related Information

A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [37].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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