Sunburnt on Arran

This is a rare Thursday morning post since I still have a backlog of posts and I want to write some new stuff! Here’s a story about an adventure to Arran a few weeks ago.

Growing up on the east coast of Scotland, it isn’t very often that the sun is warm enough to get yourself burnt. I was an indoors sort of person anyway so my skin turning any colour apart from its usual pale pastiness or acne-infused red was a very rare event. If I have been sunburnt, though, it has usually happened in the most unlikely of places. A few years back, I had a day trip doubleheader one weekend in May, to York on Saturday and Lochleven Castle on the Sunday. I came back from Kinross, of all places, bright red. The morning after I was on Arran recently, I looked in the mirror and saw that my forehead and nose were roughly the shade and hue of your average postbox, not at all expected when heading off some place on a CalMac ferry.

I had been to Arran once before, a couple of years ago, randomly enough on Easter Sunday. That day was beautiful and sunny though naturally I came back just as pale as normal. We had walked out of the ferry terminal at Brodick and turned right along the front, ending up just below Brodick Castle before we headed back and on the ferry again. This time I had ventured the view that perhaps we would turn left instead of right and see where we ended up. This was promptly changed as the ferry drew closer to Brodick by the left side bearing a couple of builder’s yards while to our right were Goatfell and a generally idyllic mountain/woodland sort of scene. We turned right, onto a street that we could walk down, and soon ended up by the golf course looking back towards the mainland and the ferry already coursing back to Ardrossan.

Before this trip, I had been looking at my OS map and thinking up possible ideas for our 3 hours or so on Arran, including a trip up to the north end of the island to see Lochranza Castle, since it was a castle and it was there. Three hours isn’t enough to do much more than wander and follow our noses, especially as we ended up in the grounds of Brodick Castle, sat on a bench looking down across the gardens and Brodick Bay below. Brodick Castle was shut but we weren’t fussed – it is a National Trust castle with a roof and everything so not our style – so we just sat and pottered about the grounds, up to a sequoia tree and to a reconstructed Bronze Age roundhouse, following the trails and admiring the flora before making our way back to the boat.

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In retrospect, it might have been sitting on the ferry in the middle of the Firth of Clyde that gave me the sunburn. More likely the way over since the return leg was cloudy and cooler, the Ailsa Craig not visible as it was on the way out. It seems a small price to pay to just be on a ferry and set sail, to watch the land grow faint on the horizon then disappear as a new mass comes into view. I like ferries wherever they are – even the Renfrew Ferry, across the Clyde to Yoker, has its effect – for the feeling of adventure, of being on your holidays, even temporarily. Even being in a ferry port, like Oban or Wemyss Bay with its Victorian splendour, can do that to me. Thankfully the sunburn doesn’t come with every trip or I might have to deny myself the pleasure of one of CalMac’s fine vessels sailing across the sea somewhere interesting.

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