I hope this post finds all you lovely people out there keeping safe and well. We have been living in such difficult and challenging times, missing all the things we usually took for granted, myself included.
Our anniversary trip to the Isle of Arran was postponed last year as expected, but in August 2020 there was a window of opportunity to reschedule and travel to the island. A much needed respite at the time from all the sadness and madness.
Balmichael Glamping in Shiskine, Isle of Arran was a new business starting up last year so I was happy that we could travel again and support a local business. I also wanted to capture more video footage to support the words of my Isle of Arran Poem.
I was sailing, yippee!
Things of course were a little different when we sailed in 2020. Face masks and physical distancing. No breakfast on board. I missed not having a breakfast as I love this part of the journey. Not having to cook and wash dishes is a holiday for me in itself.
What didn’t change though, was the beautiful morning sunrise softly lighting up the ferry wake as we were leaving Ardrossan. I felt calm and at one with nature again as we sailed across the Firth of Clyde to my happy place.
Before checking in at 4pm, we made good use of our time and drove around the island stopping off at villages I needed video footage for. We were blessed with a clear sky most days of our visit. This makes the experience even more enjoyable when you can see the real landscape that sometimes hides behind the clouds.
There are seven golf courses on the island. As I mention this in my poem, I had to find a way of recording footage for some of them, and I didn’t want to interrupt anyone’s game or be in the way of flying golf balls. I also wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to enter any of the courses as I wasn’t a member.
Brodick golf club was an easy one to capture as the Fisherman’s Walk is right alongside the course. We waited patiently for golfers to finish before taking any photos or video
We then stopped off at Corrie golf club and low and behold there was a cafe open called Fran’s Tea Room. We still hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast so we both enjoyed a roll and square sausage with a very generous and tasty two slices! That was brunch sorted.
I asked the gentleman serving us if we were allowed to walk up to the golf course and take some footage. Surprisingly, he said it was fine as there was a path just off the course we could walk on.
I was so happy and excited. I knew this course would have spectacular views of the mountains as it sits at the bottom of Glen Sannox. It was hazy, but wow, what a wonderful place to play golf. I think I might take up the hobby one day just for the Arran scenery!
Rocky beaches and a stunning coastline
I just couldn’t drive past the rocky beaches of Pirnmill and Imachar, no matter how many times I’ve been there. The ocean was turquoise blue and the uniqueness of the landscape always amazes me.
At Imachar beach I always walk down towards the sea and climb up on the high rocks. A short wander from the road takes you to a different world.
It’s so tempting to just find a rock and sit for a while listening to the waves and the birds, or just chill with a book. I keep saying “One day”.
Blackwaterfoot beach was a glorious, welcomed sight. The tide was out complimenting the golden sandy beach stretching right before my eyes.
We wandered along the shoreline and reached Drumadoon Point, also home to the Shiskine golf course. Another fine golf course with dramatic scenery that will distract your eye from the ball.
When the dramatic Doon cliffs come into view I always say out loud “wow”. I walked out towards the sea, stepping across the rocks to get a better perspective of this ancient land before me.
We were going to walk underneath the cliffs to try and find a dinosaur footprint. It was exciting to look for something new and the landscape certainly makes you feel like you’ve travelled back in time millions of years!
The lower cliff path is rocky on foot. You can walk all the way to the King’s Cave at the next point in the far distance.
There’s a steep hill after the cliffs that takes you up and around the back of the Drumadoon cliffs to Blackwaterfoot. We continued along the grassy path towards the King’s Cave though, and it wasn’t that far along the coastline when we found the Arran Geopark marker post 3.
Looks like this was the place to go. I was a little anxious looking up into the long grass… is that not where Velociraptors would hide and jump out, I thought. Anyway, into the thick of it we went!
Searching for a dinosaur footprint
I really love exploring off the path as you may remember. It was slippery in places with hidden stepping stones below us amongst the overgrowth. Very soon we reached a dead end wall with trickling water from above.
This was where we were to look for the footprint on the vertical wall. We eventually saw it, but I’ll let you explore for yourself. Find out more about Arran Geopark’s self-guided walks and create your own exciting adventure.
We were back out in the open path and walked back to Blackwaterfoot the way we came. The cliffs were simply Jurassic going back too. I could imagine bumping into Tyrannosaurus Rex around that corner! Why do you think I lag behind …
It was time to escape the Jurassic world and make our way to Balmichael Glamping and get organised.
Tom and Emma are such a friendly couple who have put their heart and soul into making Balmichael Glamping a special place for their family and visitors alike. Green glamping all the way, helping to reduce our carbon footprint.
The barrel pod was so cosy and had everything we needed for our three night stay, that ended up being a four night stay as I loved it so much. I knew we were going to be busy capturing all the footage we needed, so I was hoping an extra night would mean I could relax a bit more on the last day.
We brought our own pillows and sleeping bag, but you can also hire bedding if you want. Each pod also has your own private composting toilet, which was absolutely fine to use, and a private shower room.
Check out Balmichael Glamping’s website for more details, including new Safari Lodges being built for 2021.
Waking up in the morning and having my breakfast outside at the picnic table was the best. Boiled eggs on toast and a cup of tea with a view.
Have you ever been up close to an Alpaca?
Tom and Emma also run their own Alpaca Trekking (Arran Alpacas) as well as the glamping site. They have such cute smiley faces and I love their teddy bear like hair and coat. We took part in a trek with the Alpacas and it was fun even for us adults. The Alpacas made me laugh. It was just lovely to feel relaxed and care free for a little while.
We didn’t stay long in Catacol as I only needed a clip of the ocean to back up my poem about the fisherman’s cottages, The Twelve Apostles. You’ll see the cottages in my video at the end of this post.
Each cottage has a different shaped window. In times past wives would light a candle at their window to send a signal to their husbands at sea so they would know what house was calling. Possibly for emergencies or as I jokingly say in my poem “it’s time for your tea”.
We spent a lot of time watching the majestic deer at Lochranza. This was the first time I’d been so close to them. They stayed around for a while before they made their way down to paddle in the water at Lochranza Castle.
Then we walked round the coastline as far as Hutton’s Unconformity
Isle of Arran Gin
I’m really not a gin drinker, but I know so many people that love and rave about it. It was time for me to have a taster. A quick visit to Arran Botanical Drinks with its own private beach looking across Brodick Bay sounded like bliss.
I sense a dinosaur theme here …
Rex must have stomped all the way from Blackwaterfoot for gin on the beach, unless he was following me! I was so relieved that he didn’t gobble me up or my gin and seemed more interested in the boat … phew. There was a wee pal lurking in the grass too that I had to keep my eye on.
It was the perfect day to try my first sip, I mean glass… only one though! Pink gin it was and it tasted better than I expected. As I gazed across the bay I was thinking I’d like to stay here a bit longer, but we had Urie Loch to hike next.
This was a tough hike for us both, but I was determined to reach the loch so Alan could record some drone footage for me. The things you do for love … and video ❤. We hiked here many years ago but we were fitter back then.
It was uphill all the way through woodlands. It was so hot. I could sense that I might be bitten by a variety of hungry insects landing on me, but I didn’t cover up my arms which I regretted later. I was lost in the moment but also huffing and puffing all the way feeling very unfit.
It was the last stretch up the hill towards the trees, following the trodden path. Alan was struggling as well in the heat.
We made it though! I was so relieved to finally be at the top. It was hazy so we couldn’t see the mountain views but the loch was looking much prettier than when we visited the last time which was on a duller day.
Pretty purple heather was the carpet of the landscape today, with what looked like lots of little moths flying around it.
Below are some of Alan’s drone photos. Select the photo to see a larger version. You can just make out the Arran mountain range in the third photo. I never thought I’d say this after the difficult trek up here, but I might need to go back one day to see the mountains more clearly. It’s such a stunning viewpoint.
Thinking we’d be the only humans here on this hot day, surprisingly someone else appeared. We chatted for a wee while to a local policeman who had just run all the way up! It’s certainly a scenic trail run but what an exhausting incline all the way. Kudos to the friendly policeman!
It was time to head back down and I was looking forward to getting back to our pod and chilling for the rest of the night.
It was our last night and I was shattered after the Urie Loch hike. I soon noticed I was so badly bitten by those pesky flying insects, my left arm started to swell up and burn. My ankles were a right mess with bites too. I wasn’t feeling well. It’s my own fault for not covering up my arms in the woods, but it was so hot.
My plans to sit outside at the picnic bench and relax watching the sunset with a glass of wine didn’t happen.
Alan took this gorgeous shot of the Balmichael sunset for me and you can watch this in our Balmichael video below.
Then it was time for a magical starry night as the dot-to-dot sky sparkled in the dark of the night, with a soft glow of light from our pod, where I was tucked up in bed.
It was the perfect time to catch the Perseid meteor shower. I missed it all, but at least I have the photos to look back on.
I really didn’t sleep well, so in the morning when we checked out it was over to Lamlash for some antihistamine tablets (they helped a lot).
The String Road to Brodick was looking pretty amazing though, so the scenery cheered me up.
Watch my videos
I created a short video of Balmichael Glamping and this handsome boy Dougal took a wee fancy to my hat.
I’m also happy to say that I completed my Arran video project in September 2020. You can view and listen to the full tour ‘Isle of Arran, Scotland in miniature and poetry’ on my YouTube channel. There’s five videos in the playlist of around three minutes each.
Sit back, relax and I hope you enjoy watching this magical island in Ayrshire, Scotland 💙
Even though we were under the world-wide cloud of the virus (and still are), I felt a little bit more freedom here. It was like I’d forgotten about it for a little while.
As always, I had a really enjoyable time, even with the sore arm on the last day. It has been a while since I put words to blog and I really enjoyed creating this 😀.
Take care everyone and thanks for reading.