A week on Arran

We’re not long back from a fantastic week on the island of Arran, one of Scotland’s wee gems off the mainland west of Glasgow. We were staying in a cottage in the village of Pirnmill on the west coast of the island, which has been just lovely.

Enjoying a CalMac ferry in the sun

Pirnmill is a small village with miles of unspoilt coastline in both directions, looking across to the Kintyre peninsula. It’s very quiet which suits us just perfectly.

No recumbents this week – I took the Crosstrail hybrid and my wife brought her Gary Fisher mountain bike. We’ve put in about 100 miles over the week amongst other activities with the kids. The Crosstrail has been completely unused for four years – poor thing could have done with a bit more TLC before we left. I forgot the track pump and the tyres were a bit flat, so had to inflate them with my little emergency hand pump which is good up to around 50 PSI then starts to get really hard. I started on the rear wheel and it immediately went flat – old inner tube had ruptured round the valve! Great start. Changed the tube whilst being eaten alive by midges and got both tyres up to about 60 PSI which felt a bit squishy but wasn’t too bad.

On Sunday we climbed Goat Fell in glorious sunshine. We took the easy route up from Brodick castle, which is about 5 miles to the summit. We saw a couple of ravens on the way up and got some great views of the north Arran mountains from the top. There’s loads of great ridge walks around, if you don’t mind a bit of scrambling from time to time.

Goat Fell summit

Monday we cycled the north Arran loop, taking in Lochranza, over the big climb to Sannox and down the coast to Brodick before cutting back over the String road (another steep climb) to Machrie and on again to Pirnmill. Fantastic scenery all the way round, and it was great to see cyclists outnumbering drivers on the fairly quiet roads.

Stunning views everywhere on Arran!

Tuesday we walked up Glen Rosa to the foot of Cir Mhor and Goat Fell which again is just beautiful walking country with stunning views all the way there and back. There were a lot of dragonflies out which you don’t see many of in the Borders. If we’d had more time we might have gone on to the ridge and up to the summit of Goat Fell again, but in the end we stuck to the easy walking in the glen.

Glen Rosa, looking on to Cir Mhor and the Witches’ Step beyond

Wednesday I did a nice training ride with some intensity on the climbs. If you get out early enough there are basically no cars on the road at all, so it’s a lovely ride. The roads on Arran are suffering a bit though – I have been thinking about bringing the CHR across some time and doing a figure 8 round the bottom and top loops, but I fear that the clattering would not be good for either rider or bike.

Thursday was the one really wet day, and we spent a fair bit of time indoors. Mostly eating home made cake which we bought from the Lochranza church sale the day before. Yum yum!

Friday we cycled the north loop of the island again, this time in the other direction. Once again the weather was just perfect. Lochranza castle looks just postcard perfect on a day like this.

Lochranza castle

We also discovered a family of peacocks living just down the road from Pirnmill….

Saturday we drove the south half of the island just for the views, and took in the standing stones at Machrie. These have been there for several thousand years.

Machrie standing stones

We then spent a blistering few hours on Sannox beach before getting the ferry back to the mainland and driving back to the borders. Boo! Wish we could have stayed for another week!

2 thoughts on “A week on Arran

  1. Adventure island! You got a great week and some great images. i wonder if Irene and I would make it from Brodick to Lochranza on Quetzal! Maybe going round the long way but hills are everywhere I suppose. Thought about using Arran as stepping stone to Islay.


    • You’d make it no bother. Direct is definitely the easiest route – over the string road is extremely steep! Was glad of the low geared triple on the Crosstrail. There’s a fairly steep but short pull out of Sannox and then it’s a long pull to the summit but not too steep – then a blissful high speed descent to Lochranza. Switch the speedo off so you can tell Irene you didn’t know how fast you were going 🙂


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