Blackwaterfoot Lodge is situated in the centre of the eponymous village on the west coast of Arran. The proprietors ensure a very warm welcome and a flexible approach for guests, from late check-ins, to all-day access and early breakfasts.
The Lodge has six en-suite bedrooms and one standard bedroom with private facilities, all on the first floor. All rooms are non-smoking and all have TV and tea/coffee facilities. It’s a great base from which to explore the island by foot, by car, or by bus: all buses go to Blackwaterfoot. The west coast of Arran is more Hebridean in character than the more populous east side with fabulous views across the Kilbrannan sound to the Kintyre peninsular.
Guests also have access to the residents’ lounge, perfect for relaxing with a drink in front of the open fire. The Black Grouse Restaurant and Bar operate on the ground floor of the property providing evening meals for guests. Free Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the building and plenty of parking spaces outside and to the back. Cyclists are particularly welcome and there is undercover secure storage for bicycles. Guests can also relax in the garden.
The island is kidney shaped, 57 miles around, about 25 miles long and 12 miles across at its narrowest, so everywhere is accessible. Blackwaterfoot village is well served by local businesses: there’s a post office and general store, a sandwich shop, a bake-house (superb sour-dough bread), a butchers shop, a newsagent, a garage, another pub and a hairdresser. The nearby Shiskine Golf and Tennis club - a five –minute stroll away – is amongst the top 100 courses in the world despite having only twelve holes. Not far afield are the Neolithic standing stones of Machrie moor and The King’s Cave – an ancient sea cave that could have been where Robert Bruce watched the tenacious spider as he hid from his enemies. The road going north along the shore passes through Machrie (tea room, tennis, and a 9-hole golf course); Dougarie, Pirnmill (shop and restaurant), Catacol (Pub and glen) to Lochranza where a small vehicle ferry sails to Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsular. This is a great way to visit the west highlands rather than the route through the central mainland. Also near Lochranza is Hutton’s Unconformity - a geological formation that supported Hutton’s ‘Uniformitarianism’ theory – that the Earth was much older than previously thought –a place of pilgrimage for geologists. There’s a ruined castle at Lochranza that looms quite splendidly from the loch and is worth a visit. It used to be a residence of the Lord of the Isles. Cruising yachts find shelter beside the castle these days. The north shore of the Loch is a good place to spot seals. There’s another 9-hole golf course at Lochranza where grazing deer present added hazards.
The road going south takes travelers through gently rolling countryside past several Neolithic sites, past the Lagg Inn at Kilmory (creamery, and a delightful hidden beach) then to Kildonnan, where another ruined castle watches over the southern seas. The shoreline west from Kildonnan is a fascinating patchwork of basalt dykes with little private sandy beaches between the black intrusions. Continuing onwards, the road descends into Whiting Bay (shops, restaurant, garage) then to the administrative capital – Lamlash (Police Station, High School, shops, Yacht Club, pubs and council offices plus a ferry to Holy Island) thence a short three mile stretch with a stunning view of the northern mountains as the road crests the hill between Lamlash and Brodick.
Holy Island lives up to its name: it’s deafening silent, now home to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat, St Molios’s cave and spring, it’s devoid of vehicles and roads, supports a few wild Eriskay ponies and is definitely worth a visit.
Brodick Castle Garden & Country Park is Britain’s only island country park and is the perfect place for a family day out. The grand red sandstone Scottish baronial-style castle is dramatically set against the backdrop of Goatfell and has magnificent views over the Firth of Clyde to the Ayrshire coast. The grounds and surrounds alone are worth a visit – from the landscaped gardens (influenced by William Andrew Nesfield) - to the woodland trails, wildlife ponds and waterfalls, there’s plenty to explore.
Brodick Castle is packed full of treasures – it’s famous for its impressive collections of period furniture, silverware, porcelain, paintings and sporting trophies.
The gardens provide an unmatched experience, from the formal walled garden to the woodland walks. There are three national collections of rhododendron that flower in almost every month of the year. The country park extends from seashore to mountain top with over ten miles of trails and abundant wildlife.
Also just outside Brodick is the Heritage Museum, a well-run imaginative exhibition that reflects the social history, archaeology and geology of the island: worth a visit, even in good weather.
Blackwaterfoot Lodge is also a superb location for golf and outdoor enthusiasts. There are seven golf courses on Arran and the island is crisscrossed with walks that suit every level of walking ability. Not only that, but, outside the villages, the buses will stop anywhere to pick up or drop off passengers. Walkers can thus enjoy one-way walks. The Lodge has a collection of maps, books and pamphlets providing oodles of information on local walks, geology, archaeology and other attractions, all available for guests to borrow.