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About Me

Found 3 results

  1. We had another long day of travelling ahead of us today, involving two ferries and a drive of around three hours in between. We woke up in the hotel on the Isle of Arran, where it was still lovely and sunny. After making the most of the hotel breakfast, we just had time for a quick stroll to enjoy the views for a final time before setting off across the island to Brodick. We were booked on a ferry from Brodick back to Ardrossan at 11am. As the ferry pulled out of Brodick, we had some great views back towards the Isle of Arran. We arrived in Ardrossan around midday. From there, we had a drive of 120 miles towards the ferry terminal of Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula. Our first stop was not a very exciting one - an Asda superstore on the outskirts of Dumbarton. When I booked the cottage on the Isle of Islay, I got a message from the owner telling me that it would be advisable to stock up on food on the mainland, because there were reports of queues for groceries in the island's shops Dumbarton was more or less on our way anyway, so it made sense to stop off there and stock up on some essentials for the next few days. After we'd done the shopping the journey became a bit more scenic, with the route initially taking us along the shore of Loch Lomond. We stopped at a small village called Luss, where there is a good car park and beautiful views of the loch. We had a short stroll by the waterside. Loch Lomond was a wonderful shade of blue today. It wasn't completely peaceful though, as there were some people out on speedboats It was still a lovely place to visit though And the village of Luss itself is really pretty too. We could have stayed for longer, but we had to press on because we needed to be in Kennacraig for our second ferry by 17.30. We still had around 75 miles to cover, so we got back in the car and began driving towards the small town of Inveraray. We stayed here during our very first Scotland roadtrip in 2010. Today it was just a convenient place for us to stop and get some lunch After lunch we were back in the car to cover the final 40 miles to Kennacraig. We arrived just on time to check in for the ferry and soon we were on our way to the Isle of Islay. There were some great views of the Kintyre peninsula as the ferry pulled out. The journey to the Isle of Islay took 2 hours 20 minutes. The sea was still pretty calm, so it was a pleasant crossing. Eventually we saw the town of Port Ellen appearing on the horizon. It's quite a big town by Islay standards, although it doesn't look huge. We're staying in a cottage I booked via Airbnb, around a 45-minute drive from Port Ellen. We've got a conservatory with amazing sea views! There's also a good-sized kitchen... ...and a cozy living room It's in a fantastic location. And as we were unloading the car, I caught sight of a seal in the water just outside the house I think this is going to be a fun place to stay, even if the weather isn't quite as good as it was on Arran
  2. When we woke up today it was a beautiful sunny morning on the Isle of Arran. The view from outside our hotel is really wonderful. We had a quick stroll around outside to enjoy it, before jumping in the car to start our Isle of Arran roadtrip. Our first destination was actually only a couple of miles down the road. We parked in a small Forestry Commission car park, from where we were planning to do a circular walk. The trees were really dense here and the forest looked so dark! From just outside the car park itself, we had some amazing views. An info board told us that this mountain used to be a volcano. We set off on the walk through the forest. Before too long the path opened up and we started to get glimpses of the sea. It looked such an incredible shade of blue! We were really lucky that the weather was so good today As we progressed along the walk the path became narrower... ...before leading down through some rocks. The route then continued along the shore of what was quite a pebbly beach. As we walked along it we had a great view towards some big cliffs in the distance. The reason for the walk was that it leads to a place called King's Cave. I'm not necessarily a big fan of caves, but this is the one where Robert the Bruce allegedly watched a spider spinning its web. Fortunately, the spider we found there today wasn't too scary The path then led us through another cave... ...and back out into the sunshine. We'd climbed down quite a long way to get to the cave, and now we needed to climb back up. It was quite hard work at times in the sunshine... ...but the views were still superb Ultimately the path was leading us back towards the forest where we had started. We'd walked about three miles by the time we got back to the car. It was barely worth getting into the car, because our next destination was only a mile or so down the road. We parked in a small car park, from where a path led to the Machrie standing stones. Initially the path led us through green fields full of sheep. When we turned around there was a great view back to the sea. After 10 minutes or so of walking we came to this... I was slightly concerned that these were the standing stones, in which case they didn't really seem worth the walk. Fortunately, the path continued to the main standing stones, which were still a bit further along. All in all, walking to the standing stones was probably a 90-minute round trip and we clocked up another 3 miles or so on our Fitbits. It was beautiful walking towards these views though. We came to another small stone circle. And then finally we got a glimpse of the real thing These stones were a much better size. There were only a few of them, so not quite as impressive as the Ring of Brodgar which we'd seen on Orkney last year. They were huge stones though - here's me for scale We enjoyed the views of the stones and then began retracing our steps back to the car. We also caught sight of this solitary stone, standing on its own. This one was quite an unusual shape! We got back in the car and had a longer drive this time, around 14 miles to the village of Lochranza, which is the most northerly village on the Isle of Arran. We parked beside a loch where we had views towards a ruined castle, although quite a small one. There was another circular walk we could do here, towards a place called Newton's Point. As we followed the path we had more beautiful views. We reached a point called Hutton's Unconformity, where the 18th century geologist James Hutton had located a junction between two different types of rocks, enabling him to deduce a theory that the Earth's surface had evolved over a long period of time. I didn't quite understand what we were looking at, but it was interesting anyway The path ultimately led around in a big loop, bringing us back towards Lochranza. We'd walked over 9 miles by this point so I was definitely starting to feel a bit tired. It was definitely worth it for the views though - we were really lucky with the weather today, but I'm amazed about how beautiful the Isle of Arran is, as it's not really an island I've heard a lot about before. We stopped for some much needed coffee and cake on the way back to the hotel, before continuing our drive around the south coast of the island. We didn't get out for any more walks here, but we did get a lovely view towards the small Holy Island which is just off the coast of Arran. Then it was back to the hotel to relax for the evening and enjoy the sea views from our bedroom
  3. Breakfast was included in the price of the hotel we were staying at in Hawick last night, so we made the most of it this morning; both to get our money's worth and because we weren't sure when we would next find food. We had another fairly long day of driving ahead of us today, ultimately travelling to the ferry port at Ardrossan, from where we were due to catch a ferry to the Isle of Arran in the evening. Ardrossan is just under a 3 hour drive from Hawick if you go directly, but we weren't in a hurry and decided to take the more scenic route, with a diversion to visit Culzean Castle. The route which the SatNav ultimately took us on was very scenic indeed, initially taking us on small mountain roads through the Borders, where we had to keep our eyes out for sheep on the road. At one point a hare ran across the road in front of us and another time we saw something small that looked like a stoat. It was quite an adventure! As we got further across Scotland the roads became bigger and we eventually arrived at Culzean Castle sometime just around 1pm, after about 3 hours of driving. We've been to Culzean Castle twice before - once in 2010 and once in 2011 - when we were driving around Scotland, but we didn't have a blog back then. It's a National Trust for Scotland property and so we were able to get in for free with our English membership cards. The unique thing about Culzean is that it's right by the sea, so it wasn't long before we had some lovely views. It was a bit hazy today, but not raining at least Culzean is set in quite a large estate and there are various signposted walks which you can follow. We started following one known as the "Lion path", which led us past this ruined gate. Through here is the entrance to the main castle itself. We abandoned the trail after a while and started exploring the walled garden instead. There were some really pretty flowers here... ...and some slightly scary-looking vegetables! I always imagine walled gardens as being small, but this one was quite extensive. We did a complete loop around the edges of it... ...and I was surprised to find when we reached the far corner that there were even some palm trees here Some of them were really quite big! After the walled garden, our next stop was the Swan Pond. There is a trail which you can follow all the way around the pond, but we were looking for the start of a different trail, called the Dolphin Trail. The Dolphin trail was described as a coastal path, which sounded like a lot of fun. We found the signposts for it and soon had some great views out across the sea. There were some nice beaches in places, although at other times the smell of seaweed was quite strong! The signs for the trail were a bit confusing and we had initially walked in the opposite direction to the one I'd expected, which meant we ultimately came round in a loop and had to try the path again, walking in the other direction. In this direction the path was a bit more wooded. There were still some great views though. The path eventually brought us back around to the front of the castle. The grounds here were lovely too. We didn't go inside the castle; I suspect the best views are probably from the outside. Instead we followed a continuation of the Dolphin trail, which took us right down to the sea. As we walked along the beach we had some brilliant views back towards the castle. From there it was quite a steep climb up, back towards the car park. We had been going to get a snack at Culzean, but it was quite busy because of Father's Day and there was a huge queue for the cafe. We decided instead to drive in the general direction of Ardrossan, in the hope of finding somewhere to get a late lunch/early dinner. When we'd been looking at the map earlier, we'd identified Kilmarnock as a fairly big town on our route which might have restaurant options. Unfortunately, finding something to eat once again turned out to be a bit problematic. We tried stopping at what looked like a large pub/restaurant outside Kilmarnock, but were told that they had no free tables until 8pm When we drove into Kilmarnock itself, first impressions were that it looked rather run-down. We were greeted by a sign informing us that Kilmarnock was "Scotland's most improved town", but it looked like there might still be quite a lot of room for improvement! We ended up eating at a drive-through McDonalds, which may not have been quite what we'd planned but it was at least very filling Once we'd eaten we set off towards Ardrossan, where the ferry terminal for Arran is located. We had a bit of a wait until it was time to check in for our ferry. The tickets say that the last check-in was 19.30, with the ferry due to depart at 20.00, but when we got to the ferry terminal some time after 19.00 there was no one there. The ferry itself eventually turned up shortly after 19.30 and we were waved aboard. It's only a fairly short journey to Arran so I wasn't sure whether this was going to be one of those ferries where you're not allowed to leave your car. But it turned out that it was one where we were allowed up on deck, which was nice It was still quite bright outside and so we had some lovely views as we sailed closer to Arran. As you can see in the pictures, the sea was lovely and calm today so it was a very smooth crossing. The ferry pulled into Brodick, the main town on the Isle of Arran, at 20.55. From there we had a short drive across the island to the small village of Blackwaterfoot where we are staying. We pulled over to look at the beautiful views, then realised the hotel we're staying in is actually just across the road. I booked the hotel at quite short notice and chose it purely on the basis that there were two hotels on Arran with vacancies and this was the only one out of the two which served breakfast. It turns out to have been a really good pick, because this is the view from our bedroom window It's exciting to be on a new island and we're definitely looking forward to exploring more of Arran tomorrow.
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