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SCOTLAND

Photography & Travels (finding fantasy in reality)

Isle of Arran, Scotland

Despite its small size, at 19 miles long and 10 miles wide, Arran has a diverse landscape and is often referred to as "Scotland in Miniature." It's a great place for walking (and cycling - there's a bike rental place near to the ferry port in Brodick). Arran's small size was one of the reasons I chose it for my first wild camping experience. How easy could it be to get lost on an island where the coastline is never more than 5 miles away? Answer: still easy, especially in fog.

The South Coast (including Kildonan and Pladda)

What a great sight to wake up to!

6am sunrise near to KildonanVivid orange sea sunset with silhouetted foreground rocks, by Alex HarfordAilsa Craig island in the Irish Sea, from the south of ArranAilsa Craig island, with seabirds and foreground rock. Black and white photo by Alex Harford

The island of Ailsa Craig (pictured above) is for sale with an asking price of £1,500,000. Presently it's uninhabited but has a small cottage, lighthouse ruin, a granite quarry and a large seabird colony. The quarry is famous for providing the material used to make stones for the sport of curling, in which Great Britain's women (made up of 5 Scots) won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Pladda Lighthouse at dawnPladda Lighthouse and island in silhouette at dawn

Pladda is another uninhabited island in the Firth of Clyde. The lighthouse was built in 1790 and automated 200 years later in 1990.

Pladda Lighthouse from Eas Mor
(there's a spectacular waterfall to the left of this shot)
Pladda Lighthouse with autumn forest and the Irish SeaSunset at Porta BuidheMoon and sunset with foreground rocksSunset at playgroundSunset with children's swings silhouetteBoat at Porta BuidheBoat reflection at sunset

Whiting Bay and Glenashdale

Glenashdale Wood is home to a load of waterfalls and Neolithic chambered cairns known as the Giants' Graves.

The Pillar Box Post Office, Whiting BayWhiting Bay Post Office backed by the Firth of Clyde, by Alex HarfordAbandoned Freight Rover Sherpa Van, Glenashdale WoodRusty Sherpa Van in overgrown grassGlenashdale WoodGlenashdale Wood tree coverGlenashdale Falls, also known as Eas a' ChrannaigGlenashdale Waterfall and autumn coloursThe Giants' Graves, with Goatfell in the distanceGiants' Graves, a jumble of large stonesWaterfall in Glenashdale WoodWaterfall and trees, Glenashdale WoodLog cabin in Eas Mor forestLog cabin library, Eas Mor forest

Lochranza

Red deer and stags roamed everywhere in Lochranza, including the campsite. I was paranoid a stag would trip over my tent guy ropes and impale me with an antler while I was asleep. That was a couple of nights after wild camping, with dreams (or nightmares) that cows were munching on grass right outside my tent, and at any minute would trip over a guy rope and flatten me...

Lochranza Castle ruin and boats in Loch RanzaRuin of Lochranza Castle, with Loch Ranza and boats in the foreground

Lochranza Castle dates from the 13th century, though most of the current remains were built in the 1500s.

Lochranza Castle and deer at duskLochranza Castle

Glen Rosa and Glen Sannox

It's possible to walk over The Saddle (pictured below - the dip between Goatfell, Arran's highest point - and Cir Mhor) from Glen Rosa to Glen Sannox. That was my plan but the weather took a turn for the worse, with barely any visibility.

Waterfall in Glen RosaWaterfall in Glen RosaGetting closer to The Saddle, Glen RosaDark cloud over The Saddle, Glen RosaAnother waterfall in Glen RosaUpstream waterfall in Glen RosaA windy and rainy Glen SannoxWind and rain in an autumnal Glen SannoxWaterfall near to South SannoxWaterfall, river and pink flowersSannox BayBoat in Sannox BaySannox Bay and South SannoxBeach at Sannox Bay and South Sannox houses

Brodick

Brodick is the main village on the Isle of Arran, and lies just at the base of Glen Rosa. It's possible to catch the ferry to Brodick from Ardrossan on the Scottish mainland, walk Glen Rosa and Glen Sannox, and then return to the mainland on the same day. I'd recommend much longer though - even in a week I didn't see everything I wanted to.

Brodick, from the ferryBrodick and Ardrossan ferryHouse and tree near to BrodickLarge tree and house

Machrie Moor Stone Circles

There are a few stone circles at Machrie Moor, the most prominent is the one pictured below. There are also cairns and hut circles in the area, all dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age up to 2000 years ago.

Stone Circle at Machrie MoorLow angle of standing stones, Machrie Moor. Black and white photo

Feel free to ask if you have any questions about visiting. Have you been to Arran or any of the other Scottish Isles? Do you have a favourite? I want to visit them all!

If you're off to Arran for a walk/cycle, don't forget a map:
Isle of Arran OS Explorer Map Active (this is the most detailed of the general Ordnance Survey maps)
Isle of Arran OS Landranger Map Active
Wild Camping: Exploring and Sleeping in the Wilds of the UK and Ireland is a useful read too.

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