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A traveller's guide to the Isle of Arran, Scotland

Soaring peaks, sweeping coastlines and wildlife at every turn — Arran truly lives up to its reputation as ‘Scotland in miniature’.

Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:21 BST, Updated 5 Nov 2020, 05:27 GMT
Common seals on the Isle of Arran.
Common seals on the Isle of Arran.
Photograph by Getty

Why go?

It’s possible to get almost everything you’d want from wild, rural Scotland here — on one side of the island, there are rugged highlands to summit, while on the other, moss-green lowlands roll down to idyllic, deserted beaches. In between, visitors can tuck into innovative local fare, keep their eyes peeled for wildlife and meet the local champions of the great outdoors. visitscotland.com

What to do

Visit the Lochranza Field Study and Activity Centre and meet geologists with a penchant for adventure. They’ll take you hiking along mountaintops or canoeing in the bay of Lochranza in the shadow of its castle ruins.

Where to eat

All culinary options on Arran pale in comparison to Mara Fish Bar. In the village of Corrie, the menu’s inventive and impressive — there’s mussels with kimchi, cajun-spiced catfish and whiting tacos with local kombuchas and home-baked cakes.

Where to stay

There are a handful of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs on the east coast, yet this rugged setting lends itself to a rural retreat. Check out the self-catering cottages on the Balnagore Moss Estate on the west coast for a string of quaint and isolated abodes just minutes from the sea.

We like

Seal-spotting with Ocean Breeze RIB tours is a must, but other wildlife encounters include the majestic red deer lazing on the golf course at Lochranza.

Don’t miss

Scrambling the heather-clad hills up to Coire Fhionn Lochan — a small loch nestled in the mountains on the west coast. Park at the hamlet of Thundergay and picnic on the white gravel beach for an entirely different kind of British beach break.

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Published in the March 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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