Way back in spring, I was fortunate to win a Facebook competition for a nights stay in the all new Brodick Bunkhouse. This modern take on the traditional bunkhouse adjoins the Douglas Hotel on the Isle of Arran, just across the road from the ferry terminal. Repurposing an existing building, it offers bright, comfortable and affordable accommodation for anyone wanting to explore this amazing Island who neither wishes to camp or splash out on more expensive digs. Beds, showers and a small kitchen area, everything you need. As I said, I won this night’s stay back in spring, but it took me till October to get something arranged. Robert who runs the place was very accommodating and I managed to book it for a late October cycle round the Island.
Thankfully the weekend we chose turned out to be warm and bright. Two friends and myself took our bikes on the train from a foggy Glasgow down to Ardrossan where the sun had broken out and was making the firth of Clyde sparkle. The ferry crossing was straight forward and it wasn’t long before we were disembarking at Brodick. We dropped off our overnight bags at the Brodick Bunkhouse then started the 55 miles or so cycle clockwise circumnavigation.
First stop was a brief regroup at Lamlash, then we pushed around the south side of tithe Island to Kildonan, where we took a turn down to the shore line, mistakenly thinking we were stopping here for a pint and lunch. We had to get to Blackwaterfoot where we would be stopping to eat. Not before we climbed the steep hill to get back up to the main circuitous route.
The sun was still shining bright, but there was the briefest hint of a shower, this didn’t last long. Views across to the Mull of Kintyre were beautiful, and Ireland was clearly visible across the water.
On arrival, grabbed a table at the hotel in Blackwaterfoot and got some drinks in. The sun was still shining and we were disappointed to learn they wouldn’t serve food at the outside tables despite the glorious weather. We settled for indoor food, then we got back on the road.
We were concerned we wouldn’t be back in Brodick before sunset and we were less than half way round the island, with the large hill at Lochranza still to go.
The west side of the island offered lovely views of the Kintyre peninsula as well as inland across Machrie Moor.
A slight head wind was developing and after a short rest we pushed on up to Lochranza. We were tiring and the Autumn sun was dipping behind the hill putting us in the shade. So we stopped to rehydrate, in a pub, had a snack and a rest before taking on the big hill.
We started off again at a slow pace, a pace that only got slower as we gained height. It’s only about 200m vertical, but goes on for a bit. Once we crested the saddle, we were back in sunlight nod it was all downhill (almost) from here on in. We raced down towards Corrie and followed the coast despite tired legs all the way back into Brodick.
We arrived back at our accommodation just after 7pm and parked our bikes in the bike shed. Then, after a very welcome shower we nipped over to the Douglas for drinks and something to eat. It gets busy there on a Saturday, so if you plan to eat, get in early.
The beds at the Bunkhouse were comfy and you have you own little personal light, PowerPoint, and even USB socket in the wall for phone charging and the like.
Well rested, we had an hour or two to kill in the morning. Brodick does lack early Sunday breakfast opportunities. Just in case we went to the co-op for some supplies, but were glad when the cafe at the pier opened at 10, meaning we could get a good cooked Scottish breakfast before our ferry back to the mainland.
Arran is said to be Scotland in miniature with sweeping coastlines and rising mountains it is the perfect place for a weekend visit, especially if you like cycling, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, whisky, eating… you get the idea. Visit www.calmac.co.uk for ferry times and you can contact the Brodick Bunkhouse at www.brodickbunkhouse.co.uk.