Why You Must Head to Arran in 2023 - Robin McKelvie

06 Dec 2022

It’s that time of year when we all think about making resolutions. Well how about resolving to head to Arran for the first time if you’ve always fancied it, or returning back to this glorious island if you’ve already been before? I go across every year and one of my New Year resolutions is always to return back doon the watter to this magical isle.

I can think of myriad reasons to sail across to Arran and I thoroughly encourage you to. As a travel writer I’ve been to over 100 countries and there are many reasons I now bring my own family across, as my own parents once did with me. Here are 7 things you can resolve to do on Arran in 2023.


1.  Resolve to get to the top of Goatfell – Arran’s highest mountain for me is as stunning as any of Scotland’s Munro mountains. It soars 874m from sea level. So it’s quite a tough yomp up that some Arran locals I know have never even managed. I won’t name names! A popular way of doing it is coming across for the day to tackle Goatfell, but I recommend being less time pressured and staying overnight. The main ‘tourist route’ is what most people take, but you can mix it up by coming from or descending to Corrie. Or add in North Goatfell if you’ve got experience of scrambling. As with all hill walking take the right gear, check the weather and tell someone when you’ll be back whichever option you choose.

Daddy And Daughter On Top Goatfell

2.  Resolve to head out on a guided hike –If you prefer going on a guided walk where someone else plans and navigates the route Arran’s brilliant mountain festival is for you. The Isle of Arran Mountain Festival has something for all fitness levels. I was surprised by how tough and tiring my ridge walk was when I joined the festival – it was great fun though. I love being up high in the Arran Hills and this festival helps guide you through in safety. I cannot recommend resolving to come here for this enough – it’s a great way to meet likeminded hiking souls too.

Robin Hiking On Goatfell

3.  Resolve to find the white stag – Yes, Arran is said to have its own elusive white stag, maybe more than one. To be honest I’ve never actually seen it myself, but you’ll have a lot of fun trying to find it. Arran’s hills glen and forests are alive with wildlife so you will see deer all over, eagles in the likes of Glen Rosa and red squirrels in the grounds of Brodick Castle. Swirl in the odd sea eagle, passing marine mammals and all manner of seabirds and Arran is a wildlife oasis, white stag or no white stag.

Red Squirrel Hide (1)

4.  Resolve to catch the second Arran Festival of Food and Drink – 2022 saw the inaugural Arran Festival of Food and Drink. It was long overdue as Arran is Scotland’s foodie island capital, awash with superb local producers, such as distilleries, breweries and cheesemakers. You’ll find ace chocolatiers, butchers, pubs, cafes and restaurants dotted all over the island. Look out for the plans as they unfold over the coming months – in the first year there was everything from seafood tastings and local produce driven BBQs, through to farm tours and pick your own picnics.

Robin Relaxing On Arran (3)
Arran Platter At CASKS
Robin Whisky Tasting At The Distillery

5.  Resolve to learn more about COAST – The brilliant COAST initiative is something Arran is and should be very proud of indeed. It is a real pioneer in both marine preservation and education that has a pedigree stretching back a quarter of a century now. Their Discovery Centre in Lamlash really delves below the surface of the local waters – it is being refurbished for spring 2023. You will learn about the pioneering Lamlash No Take Zone and the South Arran Marine Protected Area. Look out too for boat trips around Lamlash Bay and over to Holy Isle with Lamlash Cruises.

Robin On Holy Isle
Looking For Seals Near Brodick Castle

6.  Resolve to enjoy some top-notch folk – If you want to really set your toes tapping then it’s the Arran Folk Festival for you. I never used to think of Arran as an isle of music like Skye, but this brilliant event changed that. The festival was first held half a century ago. In 2022 there were events at the Douglas Hotel, Brodick Village Hall and the Brodick Bar.

7.  Resolve to get on the new ferry! – At the risk of stirring up a hornet’s nest here I’m actually looking forward to getting on the new Arran ferry, the Glen Sannox, which looks finally set to start sailing in 2023. The old Glen Sannox is a ferry I remember from my childhood so it will be a real blast from the past that promises an even brighter future for Arran.

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