The Isle of Arran
“Scotland in Miniature” is what they call the Isle of Arran between mainland Scotland and the Firth of Clyde on the east and the Kintyre Peninsula and Kilbrannan Sound on the west.
The isle has a little of everything you’ll find in Scotland--the Highlands, the mountains, the lowlands, and the beaches--all on an island only 60 miles of small road around.
Arran is one of our favorite places to visit in Scotland with its seven golf courses, interesting shops,
castles, ancient standing stones,
gardens, and whisky distillery. From Cloanaig on the Kintyre Peninsula to Lochranza on Arran is only a twenty minute ride on the open decked car ferry.
On this particular visit we stayed in two lodgings--the lovely Lilybank B&B in Lamlash and the Glenisle Hotel also in Lamlash. We could only book three nights in the B&B and then moved literally next door to the hotel for our last night.
We love Lilybank especially because the room we get has a grand view of Lamlash Bay
and the Holy Isle, an island in the bay with its own Tibetian monastery. On the northern tip of the island in the ferry terminal town of Lochranza is the Isle of Arran Distillery--always worth a tour especially since the tour begins with a dram of the 10 year old single malt whisky and ends with a special taste of the distillery’s Highland liqueur.
Wort, draff, mash tuns, washbacks made of Oregon fir, worms, special barrels of whisky aging for special people (Prince William, Prince Harry, Ewan McGregor), faints, foreshots, and the smells of the Angel’s Share are all part of the tour. A visit to the distillery set us up for a round at Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club at Blackwaterfoot on the west coast. This course became twelve holes when men returning from World War I didn’t want to keep up six holes that were build on the side of Drumadoon hill--an eighteen hole course became the world’s first twelve-hole course--a number many visitors find just right.
The course is one of the most beautiful in the world on a good day and can be brutal on a day of wind and rain. On our second time around of this trip a farmer nearby was spreading a residual of the distilling process as a fertilizer which smelled of sweet whisky--what a lovely round that was! Besides the golf Anne and I enjoy the special shopping on Isle of Arran. Alone Anne spent time and money in Arran Aromatics for soaps, lotions, and other girly nice smelling stuff.
I joined her for the shopping at Isle of Arran cheese. Before we left the Island on the Brodick (the main island east coast village) to Ardrossan (Ayrshire on the mainland) large car ferry
(a 55 minute crossing), we drove to the small coastal hamlets of Corrie and Sannox, just for the views.
Four days on the Isle of Arran this trip was just enough to convince us to schedule another visit on our fall trip.
I Got Screwed at the Machrie Bay Tea Room on Isle of Arran
After some shopping and driving around the south end of Isle of Arran we stopped at the Machrie Bay GC tea room for a latte and a sweet. We’ve stopped here before and always enjoyed the break. This day I ordered a latte and a fruit scone with jam and wandered off to the toilet in the back room of the restaurant. On the way back into the eating area I turned the doorknob and felt a sharp pain on my knuckle--a screw was loose on the door handle and had sliced the knuckle on my index finger. I got a bandaid from Anne, went back to the toilet to clean up my bleeding finger. I did tell the waitress about the loose screw and she fixed it. After the latte and scone I went to the counter to pay the bill which came to £7.05. I gave the young girl £20.05 and expected £13.00 in change. The girl thanked me and gave me back £12.95. Do the math. I looked at her, she smiled and walked away. I thought I’d teach the girl a lesson and left no tip. In reality I walked to the car with a throbbing sliced finger having paid £7.10 for our £7.05 lattes and sweets. In other words, I got screwed twice at the Machrie Bay Tea Room.
The Weather, What Else!
A week and a half ago we were playing the links at Machrihanish on the Kintyre Peninsula in 40 degree rain with a 30 mph wind. Yesterday we wilted in the 85 degree windless heat on a long moorland course at Strathmore.
On the first part of our trip we didn’t have enough warm wool socks; now we don’t have enough short cotton socks. The Scots are afraid that this spell of fine weather is going to be their only summer.
We just wash out some clothes each day hoping we have enough of the correct garbs. Ah, the joys of traveling in Scotland--we love it.
Two days ago, as we were playing at King James VI GC on an island in the middle of the Tay River in Perth, Anne asked this salient question:
“If as they say on the Golf Channel putts break toward the nearby water, which way do they break on an island surrounded by water?”