Monday, 11 August 2014

South Arran Enchantment

Arriving on Arran at Brodick, you are met off the ferry by a choice of two buses. One says 'North Island'. The other, 'South Island'. It seems that a mini-tour of New Zealand is on offer. Instead, these buses take you clockwise - or anti-clockwise - round the island's coast road.

Above Kildonan:

To a hillwalker, there is only one possible direction - north, drawn like iron filings to a magnet by Arran's enticing northern skyline. But the opposite pole also has its attractions - subtler, and possibly more profound. Kildonan's lovely south-facing beach delights at any time of day, but especially at an evening low tide.

The last house in Kildonan:

At the last house in Kildonan, a path leads down to a beach, long black volcanic dykes fingering out to Pladda and Ailsa Craig. Seals arch themselves out of the sea on flat rocks, grunting and calling to each other.

Ailsa Craig:

Beyond an Icelandic-looking waterfall on the Levencorroch Burn, the path leads eventually to a boulder field and the Black Cave of Bennan Head, Arran's largest cave.

Bennan Head:

Beyond the seals, the lighthouses start flashing. I love lighthouses. The southern Firth of Clyde sees lights at Ayrshire, Pladda, Ailsa Craig, Sanda, Kintyre, even Northern Ireland. The electric lighting went on on a cruise ship, heading from Greenock to Kirkwall. I enjoyed watching the boat glide by in the distance from my hillside perch, the moor air mingling with the sea air along this coastal belt of fertile dairy fields.

Pladda light:

Beyond Bennan Head is a prehistoric chambered cairn at Torrylinn. There is not much to see here. But! There is such an atmosphere of rightness about this low, rocky, south Arran shore and modest raised beach.

Perhaps it was the company, perhaps it was the light, perhaps it was my mood. But though I had never been here before, it felt like coming home.

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