After touring the Outer Hebrides last year, this year was the turn of the Inner Hebrides.
Arran isn’t technically one of the Inner Hebrides, but it fits nicely into a tour starting at Glasgow and heading north, so that was our first destination.
If you saw last year’s posts (find them HERE), you might remember our initial ferry and our day on Barra were somewhat affected by Hurricane Ophelia.
This year it was the tail end of another hurricane – you’d think I’d learn my lesson and go for a different time of year, wouldn’t you? But no, it fits into my work schedule, and besides, you don’t visit Scotland for the weather, do you?
Arriving at the ferry terminal at Ardrossan, this is what greeted us
Not very encouraging!
Next morning was pouring with rain, but being Scotland we had come prepared, so we set off. Arran is a small island, with one road around the outside (just over 50 miles), and these were the first thing that caught my eye – Whiting Bay’s delightful bus stops.
A bit further down the coast we came on this dramatic view of Pladda island and its lighthouse
A little further south and we stopped for coffee in Blackwaterfoot. I really didn’t appreciate how hard it was raining until I replayed the video of the charming harbour
Leaving Blackwaterfoot, we saw our first wildlife of the trip – two red squirrels – crossing the road. They’re too fast to photograph, but its such a pleasure to see reds, so rare on the mainland.
Our first destination was a hike to the King’s Caves – reputedly the caves where Robert the Bruce hid from the English, and where he had his famous encounter with the spider. While hiding from the English who had defeated him, Robert watched a tiny spider try again and again and again to build a web, convincing Robert it was worth his while to try to defeat the English again.
In 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn, Bruce’s army of 5,000 defeated Edward II’s much larger army of 20,000, driving the English finally and firmly out of Scotland. Robert Bruce was known as ‘Good King Robert’ and was undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest rulers, bringing peace and freedom to his country.
The circular walk is measured at around 3 miles, but some of it is pretty rough and steep, taking the better part of 2 hours. Still, it was worth it, even though we got soaked!
This was the first view, with the cliffs of Doon, once the site of a hill fort, in the middle distance
And eventually, this
The view from inside
The hillside is riddled with caves, and the next one along has many ancient symbols carved into the rock, from a variety of time periods. It was for some time closed off to the public unless a guide was present to protect it from vandals, but you can now access it whenever you want.
Look closely towards the bottom of the central pillar and you’ll make out a medieval carving of a sword. This pic was taken in near dark – I love my camera which has a highly effective dark setting.
Leaving the King’s Cave behind, we walked on along the beach and found this
In front of this
and inside, this!
My, those tourists have been busy!
Back to wildlife, a collective of cormorants stood on the rocks ahead
and a curlew picked over the pebbles
Leaving the beach behind, we made the long climb back up the cliff track with this view
I’d planned on covering the rest of the day in this one post until I realised how many photos I’d taken, so I’ll share the rest in my next post – mysterious standing stones, more fabulous views, and our first whisky distillery of the tour…