Fancy slowing down the pace in 2016? Dawn Geddes and family get away from it all – and fall in love with the dramatic Kinloch Hotel Isle of Arran
As I stood on the deck of the Caledonian MacBrayne, setting sail from Ardrossan in Ayrshire, I just knew that I was at the beginning of a very exciting adventure.
I’ve explored plenty in my 36 years, travelling as far and wide as Asia, but I’d never quite got round to seeing the tiny beautiful Scottish islands at my own backdoor. Now, as I ventured out to The Kinloch Hotel in Arran with my little family in tow, all that was about to change.
On the lead-up to our trip, I’d been yearning to go someplace quiet where I could immerse myself and our kids in nature. I was looking forward to going back to basics for a few days and leaving all of our technological gadgets at home.
When we stepped off the boat in Brodick, I knew that I’d found the perfect place to switch off for a few days and recharge. The town was breathtakingly beautiful. Framed by mountains and crystal clear water, the quaint high street was busy with tourists and locals browsing Brodick’s gift shops and cafes. It appeared lively enough for a small, sleepy town, but I knew that we were at the very heart of the island on a Friday afternoon: our home for the next two days was going to be altogether more remote.
The Isle of Arran is just 19 miles long and I’d assumed that it would be easy to conquer in just a few days. As we drove around half of it to get to The Kinloch Hotel in Blackwater Foot, our weekend abode, I realised that Arran packs a hell of a lot into its small space. Surrounded by tremendous rustic views, we travelled the distance with our eyes wide and our mouths agape. We were even treated to a sighting of a golden eagle along the way.
When we arrived at Blackwaterfoot, a small village on the south-west of the island, I was thrilled to realise that my dreams of a nature-filled weekend would be realised. With only a handful of tiny shops, a spectacular coastline and a glorious waterfall to boot, Blackwaterfoot was awash with beauty. Standing dramatically amidst the splendour was our home for the next few days, the stunning Kinloch Hotel.
After receiving a very warm welcome from the hotel’s helpful staff, we ventured upstairs to our lovely suite. Perfect for families, the room provided us with a living space as well as a bedroom. With stunning views right across the sea and an extremely comfortable four-poster bed, it was the perfect haven. Standing admiring the view from our bedroom, we were given an extra special greeting when a gorgeous grey seal decided to make himself comfy on a sandy bed outside our window and wave to us. Welcome to Arran.
We spent the next few hours making ourselves at home and exploring the family run hotel. With its own swimming pool, sauna, squash court and games room, it has plenty to offer guests, especially those with younger children who might not want to venture too far in the evenings. They also offer mouth-watering cuisine using local produce, from Arran lamb to Kilbrannan Sound seafood, making it a firm favourite amongst visitors to the island and locals.
Part of the charm of staying on a small island is that nothing is ever too far away and the Kinloch Hotel was an excellent base for exploring. After receiving directions from the hotel staff, we started to roam the island visiting everywhere from the beautiful, tropical-esque beaches to Arran’s very own standing stones at Machrie Moor.
We were enchanted – and not just by the historic stone circle – the whole island has an almost magical feel. The rolling hills and the cool sea breeze provided us with a welcome spring in our step and our kids, who usually bore so easily, were entirely happy spending their days skimming stones and finding sticks to bring home with them.
By the end of the weekend I felt recharged and ready to return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life – but I felt that I’d be taking part of the Kinloch Hotel and its dramatic islands views back home with me.
How to get to The Kinloch Hotel without flying:
From Ardrossan, take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Brodick which takes approximately 55 minutes. From Brodick pier drive right on to the B880 and follow the road for around 23 minutes until you reach Blackwaterfoot.
Words: Dawn Geddes for Feet on the Ground
Images: Kevin Geddes