In my last story we had just finished exploring Brodick Castle and Country Park on the Isle of Arran and it was time to check-in to our accommodation.
The Auchrannie Resort was calling … I mean texting. They literally sent me text to say our retreat was ready, and it was earlier than the 2pm check-in. I was getting quite excited. After a five minute drive we were there.
I checked-in at the Auchrannie House Hotel and picked up our keycard and map to help find the retreats. It wasn’t too far in the car. We drove towards where the luxury lodges are and kept going uphill to the very last retreat called Urie Loch. Thankfully I wasn’t hiking Urie Loch again! I love the walk but the last time we hiked there it was a tough one.
I’d booked a one bedroom executive retreat and it was absolutely gorgeous with parking space at the side.
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It was so spacious, and I love that the blinds are encased within the windows. There was a little slider that moved up and down to tilt open or closed and also fully open to see the lovely uninterrupted view at the back.
You can see better photos and virtual walk through at Auchrannie Resort: Retreats. The retreats are over our budget, but after the last few years I thought why not. Once in a lifetime, right?
At the back there was private space with a hot tub, fire pit, two chairs and a wee table.
As we unloaded our things I noticed I’d forgotten the storage case for my contact lenses, so we drove down to the Arran Pharmacy which was only five minutes away. I always forget something!
They didn’t have any and I started thinking I was either going to have to sleep with them in my eyes or throw them away and put up with blurry views as I also forgot my glasses … Luckily I found some small containers that would work just the same, phew.
After a browse around some of the local gift shops, we picked up a lovely meal from the Shanghai Chinese Takeaway in Brodick and went back to eat dinner at the retreat. The only thing was we didn’t have a dining table or picnic bench to eat at, so plates on our laps it was, sitting out the back. The two bedroom retreats are slightly bigger so I think they have a table with chairs.
We didn’t rush back out and try to squeeze in another drive or walk for a change. It was time to chill and enjoy hanging about in the retreat with a wee fire going at the back, keeping the midges at bay, a beautiful view and a Pinot Grigio or two.
The retreats to the front of us sat further back. I think some of the middle ones have a more open view of the glen.
It was our wedding anniversary the next day and we planned to go on a walk as always. I was remembering back to when we walked the Arran Coastal Way for our honeymoon five years ago. What wonderful memories and still proud of us all completing this back then.
This year I was keen to hike up Glen Sannox, over the Saddle and down Glen Rosa. We both knew we were not fit enough for a 15km hike with a 520m ascent. I forget that as the years go by we are also getting older, a bit slower and achy. Also with both of us sitting working at a computer all day, this doesn’t help. Especially working from home over the coronavirus years.
There was a walk right beside us though, Glen Cloy and the Fairy Glen, so we would try this one instead. It was so good not to have to drive somewhere first and we could walk the full circuit from the retreat, back to the retreat.
The next morning the rain was playing its on and off game, so we waited until lunch time hoping it would ease off a little. It was time to get those tired legs working again!
The gate to the path was right beside our retreat and took us up this wee road. Off we went on an unknown adventure. As you may know, I always get so excited walking in new places, and today was no different. Apart from the achy legs 🤣
Even though it was hazy, there were still some beautiful pictures to be captured. I was enjoying taking my time, stopping when I wanted, with not a soul in sight.
We eventually came to a gate where it looked like we had to walk around the outside of the field to the other side. Some horses were in the field at the far end so we managed to stay away from them. What a beautiful glen for the horses to live in.
The beech trees across the field were so eye-catching to me. I just love their shapes and how they naturally belong to the landscape around them, like all trees. And rightly so as they’re probably older than me.
At the trees there was a signpost for Cnoc na Dail (2.5 miles) which is a picnic area and car park near the main road from Brodick to Lamlash. We’ve stopped here before in the car, so we should recognise it when we get there.
We passed a group of walkers coming the other way with their waterproofs on. As we were sheltered by the canopy of the trees we didn’t notice the rain so much but when we reached an open area without the tree shelter it was time for the raincoats. It was really raining now, but it was more smirry than pouring.
We were now on the forestry road that seemed to go on forever. Uphill, round a corner, uphill, more uphill. I felt like we were reaching a false summit after each climb. In fact we reached the top of one of the hills and there was a small pile of stones similar to what you would see at the top of a mountain, but it wasn’t the top of track. I laughed out loud. It was fine though, we kept plodding on hopeful that the rain would ease off in a wee while.
When we reached Cnoc Na Dail it was too wet to hang about with paths becoming a little boggy and slippery. We walked along a wee path towards the viewpoint area where we’ve stopped before with our car.
I didn’t get any photos as I couldn’t see any view at all, but I took this one the next day. Just gorgeous!
Roots of Arran community woodland and the fairy glen
The next part of the walk from the viewpoint was through the Roots of Arran Community Woodland to the Fairy Glen, then onwards to Brodick.
The Roots of Arran Community Woodland carry out conservation work in their 30 hectare woodland and even though it was raining I loved walking through here. I noticed a few side paths but didn’t explore them.
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The Fairy Glen looked more pretty in real life than the photos. The golden autumn colour on the ground was contrasting beautifully with the greenery, moss banks and roots. I could hear the water making music as it flowed from two burns, one on either side of the path, then joining together as one.
The Arran fairies must have been sheltering from the rain today as there was not one in sight! If it was a sunny day the light would have been dancing around this little Fairy Glen like magic and maybe also the fairy folk. We walked across the wee fairy bridge, along the woodland track and eventually we were back in Brodick.
We came out on to Mayish Road and passed the Glenartney Guesthouse which is up for sale at the moment on Rightmove. This was the first place we stayed when we visited together in 2006 so it has a special connection and a lovely place.
Our older legs were still holding us upright thankfully, but when we reached the retreat they knew that was enough for today. I was soaked to the skin as I didn’t have waterproof trousers and my shower proof raincoat really was only shower proof. The walk was around 10.5km and I was quite chuffed to still have that distance in my legs. I’m also glad we didn’t attempt the more strenuous hike in the rain though!
We had dinner in the Cruize Bar Brasserie at the Auchrannie Spa Resort that night which was lovely then back to the retreat. Check out was 11am for our one bedroom retreat and we drove to the south of the island as I wanted to see the new Lagg distillery before we left the island.
I remember seeing a large signpost promoting the new Lagg Distillery in 2017 when we walked the Arran Coastal Way. I was excited at that time to see it progress and what a beautiful building it is.
In the late 18th century, the south of the island was rife for illicit homemade stills with the whisky known as Arran Water smuggled and sold on mainland Scotland. It was time for the Lagg Distillery to bring back Lagg’s heritage with many wonderful tales to tell I bet.
The Lagg Distillery are producing a rich, earthy peated Lagg Single Malt. I’m not keen on the peated whisky but still find the making of it interesting. I only started tasting whisky in 2017 when I went on a tour and tasting at the other amazing Lochranza Distillery.
We were too late for a tour and tasting so we had some brunch instead, with the option of two restaurants to choose from. The Kilmory Café downstairs, including a sheltered outdoor eating area (also animal friendly) and the Sheiling Bar & Bistro upstairs, including an outdoor balcony.
I knew exactly where I wanted to go, so up the stairs we went as I was keen to see the view from a higher level.
We ordered cream of mushroom soup and shared some Lagg fries and Loaded fries which were very nice.
I took a moment to pop out onto the balcony to see the view from outside. I could only just make out the island Ailsa Craig to the left, but it was still very hazy today. I was wishing I could have sat out here all day, breathe in the fresh sea air, with a hint of whisky, and keep warm with a wee dram.
Next to the Kilmory Café is the meeting area for tours, so we had a quick look at all the wonderful stories spread across the walls and little hexagon tables. What a wonderful space. In fact the whole building was very spacious and I felt so happy being there.
I took photos of a few stories below. I love the Apple Island and Mary McKinnon stories!
The distillery has their own orchard with around 3,000 apple trees growing. I read on the Lagg Whisky Facebook page that they hope to make cider and apple brandy. I hope I’m around to taste both!
After a quick browse around the gift shop and a lovely chat with the member of staff, it was time for us to head back to Brodick in time for the 4.40pm ferry. I was sad to leave Lagg Distillery as I felt I wasn’t there long enough but know I will return for the tour and tasting the next time.
I always have such a wonderful time on the Isle of Arran, and there’s still many places I haven’t visited yet. It was farewell Arran as we crossed the Firth of Clyde back to Ardrossan.
Thanks for reading.
Love, Dawn-Marie x