New countries Tourism

Isle of Arran: a guide so basic it reeks of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte.

Not that there's anything wrong with drinking pumpkin spice latte, of course, assuming that you don't actually call it a caffeinated drink.

There are three main things you first think of when planning a trip:

  1. Getting there.
  2. Lodging.
  3. Transportation.

Thinking about these things is especially stressful when your destination is a semi-secluded island with limited to no internet/phone signal. It also doesn’t help that, unlike the city, everything on the island closes by 5-6 p.m. but fear not for it is not yet time to abandon hope! Let me assure you that if we managed to survive, have the time of our lives, and even consider coming back a second time then so can you.

In this post we will walk you through the basics so you don’t end up wasting your time getting lost like we did. Isle of Arran really isn’t that hard to get around once you get the hang of things, so we’ll leave the rest of the planning to you. Of course it’s always wiser to ask the locals for the best attractions, as we did ourselves on our first day, but if you do have any more questions/concerns that we might help you with please feel free to ask!

Now, onto more pressing issues…

Getting there: 

First thing you need to do is get to Glasgow. We were in London at the time so we took a Jet Airways flight from Gatwick and it cost us about £24-28 each, but you can also go from Heathrow if you prefer it.

If you have the time I’d definitely urge you to spend a couple of nights in Glasgow. It’s a wonderful city on its own that we unfortunately didn’t get to see much of, but if you’re just there for the weekend then ignore that bit and head straight to Glasgow Central train station. You can get there by bus or a cab. It’s fairly close to the airport and we had a large bag with us so we decided to cab it. It cost us roughly £6, which is super cheap compared to cab fares in London.

Next you’ll have to take the train headed towards Adrossan Harbour. One-way tickets are £5-7, if I remember correctly. From there it’s a two minute walk to Adrossan ferry terminal, and from there it’s a 50-60 minute ferry ride to the Isle of Arran. The staff are super friendly and informative, so if you’re in doubt at all do ask them about your ferry and/or timing.

Make sure to grab a guide and a map on your way out!

 

Lodging:

There are hotels and Bed & Breakfast all over the island. Personally I’d recommend a B&B. It’s not only cheaper, but it’s also (usually) owned by a local that can give you a more detailed account of the island’s history and hidden charms and nooks that are often overlooked. It’s also crozier, homey, and less formal than a hotel lobby.

We stayed at Ellangowan B&B in Whiting Bay. We were charged £28 per day for a spacious, clean room with two single beds and a hearty, homemade breakfast every morning. Our host, a lovely lady called Mary, was welcoming and kind and very easy to warm up to, and she was also very accommodating! I’m a vegetarian and Scottish breakfast tends to be quite meat-y. We were asked about our dietary preferences while we were in the process of booking our room and at first I assumed that she’s just remove the meaty bits from the meal, as vegetarian and vegan substitutes tend to be expensive, but I was surprised and flattered to find that she had bought all the necessary substitutes in advance and didn’t charge me extra for it.

She’s also got a cat, by the way. His name is Tiggy and he’s the cutest, sweetest, most affectionate little darling that made a room for himself in our hearts without so much as lifting a paw. Here are pictures of him just because:

IMG_5008

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We honestly have no complaints whatsoever about our stay with her, but if you’re considering staying with her then I urge you to book in advance as she tends to get overbooked fairly quickly. We emailed her a week in advance and were lucky to find a vacancy, but that’s mostly because we did during off season in early winter. The other thing we noticed is that the signal is really bad. This has nothing to do with her, of course, but Whiting Bay in general. We took this trip two years ago so that might’ve been fixed by now. It’s not like you’ll spend the entire day there anyway, but if you’re still concerned do ask her about this.

Transportation:

First thing’s first: there are no taxis on the island. You can find some from the harbour when you first arrive, but I assure you that you’ll never see them again afterwards. That being said, if there’s a will there’s a way.

Also this isn’t Cast Away. There’s obviously civilisation on the island! And you’re not travelling with Tom Hanks, so I don’t really know what you’re worried about…

There are three ways to get around the island:

  1. By car.
  2. By bus.
  3. By bike.

If you’re living in Glasgow and you happen to have a car you can definitely take it with you to the island via ferry. I’m not sure, but it might cost you extra. I know that you can also take your dog, as there were dog-only carriages on the ferry that I really wanted to sit in without looking like a weirdo staring longingly at all the happy pups I want to but can’t pet because the world is a cruel, sucky place.

I’m sorry, where was I? Ah yes, cars.

If you don’t have a car you can always rent one from the island. You’ll find many places you can rent from on arrival and most hotels and B&Bs offer at least one parking space. If, like us, you don’t have a driver’s license or you’re just not big on driving, you can always lug your bike with you and explore the many biking-friendly trails around the island. It’s time-saving, environmentally-friendly, and a great workout!

We used buses. They go all around the island and cost £1.20 a trip, but I’d definitely leave that as a final resort for they only come around once every two hours. They’re always on time, but as you’ll see in some of our posts the two hour wait can still be a bit… inconvenient. Timetables can be found at the ferry terminal. We got ours from Mary because we were being those tourists that never fail to elicit a weary groan from the locals.

There’s one final note I’d like to make about the prices mentioned in this post: please keep in mind that this was two years ago. A lot of things happened since, so the prices may or may not have changed. You might be charged more for the services listed here. We mentioned the prices not intending to mislead, but to give you an idea or a means to compare to other holiday destinations you might be considering.

That will be all, children. We hope we have been of help, and once again, if you have any questions and/or concerns please feel free to ask. We don’t bite!

 

 

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