May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A monsoon on Arran

The island of Arran is sometimes referred to as 'Scotland in miniature', and I am not sure quite why. It's a lovely island, and certainly has a lot of ingredients deemed to be Scottish – highlands and lowlands, a castle, good beaches, lots of water and lots of sheep – but I don't know why it is thought to encapsulate more of the essence of Scotland than other places. 
When I got off the ferry at Lochranza the rain was sheeting down so hard I could barely see the road ahead. I narrowly misssed mowing down a group of about eight young Indian men who were trying to hitch a lift. They weren't dressed for the weather and were so comletely drenched that I nearly did stop... but then I didn't. It was only partly because I have been told not to pick up strange men - let alone eight of them - but more because I couldn't bear the thought of them dripping all over my van!
Brodick Bay with Goatfell behind
I drove the 14 miles round the very hilly north of the island and down to Brodick. I saw a nice hotel looking on the front, and when the rain had abated I went inside, ordered a drink, and used the loo and the wifi. At 9pm I moved Baa out to the promenade near where the Caledonian Macbrayne ferries come in – big ones for the crossing from Ardrossen. A few drunks stumbled about a bit later on but I slept well with the rain drumming on the roof.
By the time Cathy came in the next day the rain had stopped. We had lunch and went round Brodick Castle, a handsome pink (red sandstone) baronial pile overlooking the bay with the magnificent pointed Goatfell rising up behind it. Brodick was home to the Hamiltons, then Montroses (or perhaps it was just their hunting lodge) and dates back 800 years. Cathy did retail therapy in Arran Aromatics and we set off south to loop round to Blackwaterfoot on the west of the island where we were booked into a campsite.
Looking towards Holy Island
Holy Island lies just off the east coast, pretty as a picture with its lighthouse; and further south and further out Ailsa Craig, a great volcanic plug of an island is where they quarried granite for curling stones. There are many Bronze Age standing stones etc on Arran and we stopped near Machrie to see a Bronze Age burial cairn.
The campsite was a good one, and quite an experience for Cathy. There weren't many people – six or seven other vehicles. One poor couple had had their car sliced up by the Lochranza bus and were waiting for it to be made driveable by the local garage so they could return home to Suffolk. A cyclist from a campervan similar to Baa was in Lochranza hospital having suffered a fit, poor lady, and another man had had to see the doctor because of trouble with his insides. Cathy met his wife at the dishwashing area when she took our dirty plates in the morning and got all the details...

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