|A weekend on Arran
||[Jul. 5th, 2016|05:24 pm]
Back to the holiday report, second pass, from the top: We set off, and reached Arran on the first day. We spent a weekend there: one evening, one morning and the two days between, of which one sunny, one grey and rainy. For once, though, this had been accurately forecast: we made plans, and they worked.
Saturday being sunny, durham_rambler, D. and I abandoned valydiarosada to the wiles of the craft shops of Brodick and environs, and headed for Machrie Moor on the far side of the island. A short walk brings you to an area dotted with stone circles. Some of them are clusters of stubby grey boulders, and some of them are tall and impressive:
D. walks sufficiently fast - or, if you will, I walk sufficiently slowly - that by the time durham_rambler and I had settled in at Café Thyme, he had retrieved valydiarosada and we lunched together. It's a bright, sunshiny space with an authentic Arran/Turkish fusion menu: the range of Turkish pide, including one topped with haggis and cheese, the plate of fruit they brought us in apology for an underdone egg, the vanilla ice-cream vanishing into a drift of bright green ground pistachios...
On to the north of the island where we visited the first distillery of the trip. The process by which whisky is distilled is pretty much defined, but each distillery works hard to present itself as unique. Antiquity is a populat option, but since Arran can't claim that, it does the opposite: We are very new and very small... They make a Speyside style, rather than an island style malt, all honey on the nose and pepper on the tongue - but experimented with a peated whisky which has been so popular that they are building a second distillery on another site (the smoky flavours linger in the still, so you can't just switch back and forth without losing a lot of time to scrubbing out).
On my visit to the Tourist Office the previous evening, I had spotted a poster for a concert at the village hall: so the day was rounded off by music from the Mandolinquents (well, three of the four of them: Richard Collins couldn't make it). They were great fun, and it would be ungrateful to say that they would have been even more fun if there'd been less singing and more mandolin, so I won't.
Leaving the concert, I was too slow to draw my camera, and the moon was beginning to mist over by the time I took this photo. A moment later is was gone. Still, bonus sragull!
Sunday being wet, we visited Brodick Castle. I had time for only the hastiest tour of the walled garden before the drizzle turned to solid rain, and no chance to walk more widely in the grounds. I hadn't been planning to climb Goatfell, but there is a sculpture trail, and promise of views across the water. :
There's a medieval castle in there somewhere, but what's visible is mostly the Victorian concept of a Highland estate, as popularised by Victoria herself. Inside, photography is forbidden (how very twentieth century!) so I have no aide mémoire for the oddments that caught my fancy: a family of silver owls, a fireplace surround of unexpectedly arts-and-crafts tiles, all stylised foliage and the family motto: "Through"
After lunch at the Wineport (which, despite the name, is pretty much the brewery tap, and recommended) we set off to drive round the south of the island, in the rain. Although the road runs close to the sea for most of the way, we had fewer sea views than I expected. Instead it was all lush green fields and lanes between high hedges, more like a patch of Devon gone adrift than like the Western Isles*. The hillsides sloped up above us, dense with green bracken and spiked with purple foxgloves.
*Later I found out that this rich greenery is characteristic of much of Kintyre, too. But on Arran the likeness is reinforced by the number of English accents around, not from the tourists, who were predominently continental European, but from local residents: people at the village hall concert, Brodick Castle volunteer guides...
Time to catch the ferry across to Kintyre and our midsummer cottage. I'd have liked to linger over the drive, and explore Corrie:
Just a tiny village, but it has two harbours. This is the one with the sheep on the jetty - they make perfectly functional bollards. Then on to Lochranza, for coffee at the distillery, and a look round the castle - a proper medieval ruin this time:
Farewell to Arran. The next morning, midsummer was observed - but I've already reported on that.