But there’s no shortage of fine Scottish Gin to enjoy

Well known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ and for its array of wonderful food and drinks, Arran is a very popular destination, for quick breaks and longer holidays alike. We think however it offers plenty to do during the shorter days too, especially now there’s Arran Scottish Gin.

Getting here takes around 2 hours door to door from central Glasgow, equally split between road and ferry journeys. For me, the minute the ferry is boarded is when the holiday begins. It’s always a thrill to walk or drive onto the shifting decks. Knowing that you’ve left one world behind and will soon step foot on another. You could call it the Narnia effect perhaps!

Several ferries per day but always book in advance and allow 30 minutes check in for cars. Book Here.

It’s All In The Planning

The key to planning a winter break is to channel your inner pessimist. If you assume that the rain’s going to persist it down, that the wind’s going to try it’s best to blow your hat off, and that your fingers and toes will be constantly numb, you’re unlikely to be taken by surprise. But, if the dawn brings tentative sunshine, the breezes are zephyr like and barely tickling the tree tops, and your fingers can face the world without gloves, what a bonus, what a delight!

The Scandanavians have a word for it – hygge (pronounced hugh gur), but the Scots have been doing it for years. That is, creating warm, cosy, safe spaces to enjoy, even on the chilliest days of early spring.

Remember Billy Connolly’s proclamation ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’? Well, that’s just the point: it’s not about trying to sunbathe in January. However how does a chair on a beach sound, if you can be snuggled up under a warm cosy blanket, close to a crackling bonfire, with gin cocktails delivered to your side at regular intervals? Now we’re talking right? So, in the radiant glow of the flames, you’re sipping on Isle of Arran Gin and counting the stars. Deciding whether tomorrow should consist of a mountain ascent of Goat Fell, an explore of Brodick Castle’s Country Park, or an otter search perhaps. Or maybe, another visit to the Beach House as you’ve still to sample the Kir Royales made from their very own Cassis…….. decisions, decisions.

Even if the stars are sheltering behind rain clouds, the Isle of Arran Gin Beach House still obliges with a warm fire and comfy seats and those cocktails again! It’s a welcoming, relaxed and charming place to spend a few hours. Sampling the wares, enjoying the atmosphere, and deciding which bottles to take home to share with favoured friends. Who needs sunshine anyway?

Image Credit Arran Botanical Drinks

If you do step away from the shoreline, Arran has plenty to offer in all weathers. ‘After the Rain’ is not just the signature scent of Arran Aromatics. A cottage industry which has grown into a very recognisable brand. Visit them and explore the full range of products. All named after Arran’s wild places, and right next door to Arran Gin. After the rain is also the perfect time to see some of the island’s waterfalls. The double falls of Glenashdale have a gravity-defying viewing platform, so a walk to them also qualifies as an adrenalin sport!

If food and drink is your thing, you’re definitely in the right place! Taste of Arran was established to showcase the produce from this place, and there is so much of it! Arran Brewery, Arran Dairies, The Island Cheese Company (inc Bellevue Creamery) and Wooleys Bakeries in both Brodick and Lamlash. You can visit each one individually, or sample them together in the Taste of Arran shop in Brodick. Don’t forget the Arran Butcher, the brand new Lagg Whisky Distillery and Arran Whisky Distillery at Lochranza, currently celebrating 25 years. As well as Isle of Arran Gin of course. Quite a collection!

Outdoor activities include horse riding at beautiful Sannox or Cairnhouse Stables. Both offer rides just for children at present, but keep in touch as things are changing all the time. Cantering along an open beach on a Scottish island, whatever the weather, must be on many bucket lists, including mine. There are also knowledgeable local guides who can take you on either low or high level walks, perhaps to view wildlife on land or along the shore. Arran’s native animals are often more easily spotted when the landscape is quieter, or the weather restricts their time to hunt or graze, so winter can be the perfect time to see them. Contact Lucy, at www.ArranWildWalks.com for more information.

Another way to see the island’s less accessible charms is within the go-anywhere all-terrain Mogabout. It resembles something from a sci-fi movie, but can carry a family group in style, and once Covid retreats, up to 16 passengers sharing. Hired by the trip or the day, every route is tailored to the exact wishes and needs of each group. Typically, a drive out into the forests, with waterfalls, Neolithic sites, viewpoints (tea and coffee stops built in), and perhaps finishing with a distillery once the daylight starts to fade. Leave the driving to someone else, discover Arran’s hidden places, and have a futuristic adventure into the bargain. Contact Alex on 07799 555287 to discuss your own itinerary.

Image Credit ©Mogabout

If two wheels is more your thing, the guys at Ride Arran can help you. Fully qualified instructors, they tailor each experience to your needs. Everyone from a complete novice to a champion will enjoy this one! Bike hire is available in Brodick and Auchrannie if you didn’t bring your own. Choose from a 3 hour or 6 hour experience if you think your legs can take it!

Where to stay? Hotel or self-catering? Well, if Scottish hygge is the theme, then a warm hotel welcome from the team at the locally owned and family run Douglas Hotel in Brodick offers everything you’ll need. They’re dog friendly in certain rooms, so book yours by contacting the friendly team on stay@thedouglashotel.co.uk. There’s also a special offer running right through until March 2021 for a minimum 2 night stay. Dinner is included and rates start at £109 (per room) per night, so DBB for 2 for 2 nights for £218. Can’t be bad.

There’s also a range of self-catering, B&B and guest house accommodation listed on www.visitarran.com You can book online there too.